Friday, August 28, 2009

Little things matter. Make a service experience memorable.

A few service experiences in the last few days remind me how the little things matter. My daughter and were I shopping at Target and had a 44 pound bag of dog food loaded on the bottom rack of the buggy. As we were cruising down the aisle, it started to slide a bit forward and drag the ground. We both leaned over to push and shove it back when an employee stopped what he was doing and took care of the shoving for us. It was such a simple thing but memorable.

An incident at Panera Bread Company caught my attention also. I had waited in the line and had money counted out for my iced tea. I stop often so I knew $1.92 was what I owed. Much to my surprise the price had gone up by a few pennies so I start to fumble for the additional money. The employee was quick to take my $1.92 and asked that I not give him the additional. He said he appreciated me making Panera a regular stop and wanted me to enjoy my tea one more time at the old price. Again simple and memorable.

Too often team members do not take such action. They are very much aware of the customer’s need yet do nothing about it. So many have the ability to look through us, “appear busy” and ignore our plight. It is usually a well- rehearsed act. Most service continues to be mediocre at best.

For those of you in leadership, what are you doing to inspire your team members to serve at such a caring level? Are you making it clear that this level of service is expected? Are you rewarding exceptional service when you see it or hear about it? Most of this doesn’t happen by magically motivated employees, leaders must be dedicated to creating a culture of service excellence.

Little things matter.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How much more would you pay for great customer service?

According to Strativity Group’s August 2009 research, customers will remain loyal when you exceed their expectations. Here are the highlights from their study –

1. More than 70% of customers are willing to spend 10% more with a business if that business exceeds expectations

2. Loyal customers are almost 3 times as likely to continue doing business with a company for another 10 years than a dissatisfied one

3. 52% of dissatisfied customers expect discounts of 5% or more to continue doing business with the offending organization. Loyal customers expect none.

I am not one bit surprised by these results. I am willing to pay more and will be loyal when you deliver a great experience. What is the lesson from this latest research?

- Don’t take the customer for granted. Mediocre and average service is the norm. It cost too much to attract one, don’t screw it up by offering a normal experience.

- Sit down and talk about how to exceed expectations. Make this a regular conversation at team meetings. Design experiences that matter and will keep your customers returning.

- Hire people who can think this way. Train people to exceed expectations.

- Check your systems and processes that are interfering with your employee’s efforts. Take the customer view of your processes to see the roadblocks. Our good intentions can not be demonstrated until we get brutal with eliminating the roadblocks.

Great customer service is not costly. Research continues to show customers want it enough to pay 10% more. Keep in mind you are only as good as your last interaction.

Loyalty is the only measure of your success. Now is the time to be really great.