Satisfying your customers isn’t good enough in today’s competitive markets. Meeting their needs falls short of earning their loyalty. You need to dazzle them; leave them “breathless” whenever they touch your organization.
The challenge is to build an organizational culture that serves the customer in every way. Not one that pushes products and services at them. Not one that forces them to engage with the organization in an unfriendly way. Here are three steps leaders can take:
1. Hire “Human-Being Lovers”
People who are born with an innate desire to serve their fellow human beings. People who get absolute joy from serving and do whatever it takes to see someone’s eyes light up.
Customers can’t be delighted if an employee would rather be taking inventory than taking care of them.
You can’t train people to “love humans.” You can train them to “grin” with a smile in their voice, but that’s the extent of it.
To select the right candidate, the recruitment interview should always include the the question “Do you love humans?” with the follow up “Tell me a personal story that proves it”. If you get goosebumps from the answer, hire the person. If not, show them the door.
2. Trash Dumb Rules
Rules have a legitimate management control purpose but if they drive business away because customers are unwilling to play by them, what’s the point?
Have fun with the idea. I struck a number of “dumb rules committees” to seek out and destroy senselessness; I made it matter by holding my leadership team accountable for implementing the changes.
Rules that serve the customer requires their engagement. Ask them for their input in rule design; they will be impressed that you are open to asking for their help.
Empower your front line to bend rules in special circumstances when they don’t make sense to a particular customer and their loyalty is in jeopardy. Not every policy will be acceptable to every customer, so allowing some flexibility is required.
Don’t worry, your employees won’t give away the farm. Provide them with the skills to balance the needs of both the company and the customer.
3. Turn OOPS! Into WOW!
Sure you do your best to avoid making mistakes, but they will happen. That’s life in any organization.
The good news is that if your service recovery is remarkable when you disappoint one of your customers they are more loyal than if the mistake never happened.
The issue is that most organizations don’t have a service recovery strategy; they don’t like to admit they make mistakes and as a result don’t take the time to plan for when it happens (and it always does).
So how to recover? Fix the mistake fast and then blow the customer away by surprising them with something they don’t expect.
Surprise Is Magic
People expect the screw-up to be remedied but they don’t expect the extra personal attention you give them to atone for the mistake.
Speed is critical. A recovery succeeds only if it is delivered within 24 hours of the OOPS! After that, save your energy for the next one coming your way.
Leaving people breathless is not rocket science; it’s about delivering basic human needs. We want to feel special, treated as individuals and delighted by surprise.
Stand-out leaders understand this and create organizations to deliver.