If you don’t continually strive try to make your customer feel special they may take matters into their own hands. You may not always be successful, but demonstrating intent is as important as results. Once you stop trying and give up control, anything can happen, and it usually isn’t good.
If your customer feels neglected or taken for granted they may well create a crisis to put themselves firmly back as the centre of attention. They will demand service; respect.
Once you lose the initiative, it’s not easy to re-take. You will be fighting a rear-guard action and they may look to your competition to keep you honest.
Consider this as you contemplate taking short-cuts. Your actions speak louder than words.
People will make connections. Assume they won’t at your peril.
If you assume you can walk away from mistakes, that they won’t come back to bite you, you are mistaken.
People will talk. Your past will follow you.
Instead, assume that you’re always playing catch up, that you have to impress, to over-deliver and delight.
You can’t control the connections, but you can influence the message.
t have to be a physical exchange of money. It could be an investment of some other kind, a long wait for example, or jumping through administrative hoops. It will all be part of the experience.
What seems like a minor inconvenience or outlay may well have a disproportionate impact on the overall customer experience. If nothing else, it is likely to increase the levels of expectation; it had better be worth it!
Think about what you do. Are your processes designed to make life easy for you or to delight your customers?
[As an example, at breakfast in my hotel this morning I was greeted not with a “Good morning!” but with “Room number?”]
I you get it wrong every experience will be a little bit tainted, a little less special. If that’s the case, you’ll have a lot of ground to make up. It’s really not a great way to start.
Award arbitrary upgrades with caution, there are a number of potential pitfalls:
If the Customer perceives that the upgrade is entirely random, it will not necessarily get them rushing back… after all, what are the chances of them being lucky twice in a row?
Also, if they’ve paid for Standard and you’re offering them Premium, it had better feel like it. After all, if Premium fails to impress, the chances of them returning to experience Standard is slim to none.
If you have a choice, make sure there’s a reason for offering the upgrade. Don’t offer them arbitrarily. Make sure they’ve earned it, and make sure they know you think they’ve earned it.
Of course, the best option is to delight, blow their socks off, make them love the experience and be desperate to repeat it.
Whatever you do, do not convince yourself that giving something away for nothing is a good thing; your generosity may well backfire.
In the majority of situations the combination of convenience and price is enough to make our minds up. There’s no need to look further, we are easily convinced.
There are occasions however in which we’re willing to wait a little longer, travel a little further or pay a little more. These occasions tend to be few and far between, memorable exceptions in which the outcome has a disproportionate impact and leaves a lasting memory.
In these circumstances the service provider or salesperson bears a huge responsibility, not only to their customer, but also to their peers.
Of course their individual performance will be carefully scrutinised, if it isn’t up to scratch their precious reputation will damaged. In time they may have to fall-back on convenience and price to stay afloat. It may feel like they’re in the same business, but they’ll be offering a very different experience.
However, it’s not just their own reputation that is at risk. Every time a customer is left unsatisfied the chance of them looking beyond convenience and price in the future is reduced. Weary of disappointment they’re more likely to choose the easy option. It doesn’t matter what the purchase is, the evidence speaks for itself.
It’s even more important to be aware of what your customers are looking to buy, and what options they have. You must be able to consistently delight, to provide the satisfaction that justifies the investment of additional time, money or effort. If not, your options will quickly become very limited… and it’s not just your own business that you’re putting at risk!
Great service is as much about assurance as delivery. As a customer, a service recipient, it’s about having comfort in the fact that great service will be there when it’s required. You don’t have to be constantly reminded; the approach shouldn’t be overbearing or in your face, instead it should be attentive and highly responsive.
As a provider, the challenge is to demonstrate your service performance without being too keen, without smothering the customer. Some feel the need to have a continual presence, irrespective of the customer needs. It’s all about them feeling good, customer experience comes second.
Great service requires confidence. Confidence to make your presence known and then to step back. Confidence that when the need arises you will deliver and delight. Confidence to provide assurance without action. We don’t see it often but we appreciate it when we do!
When is the most important time for you to operate to your full potential? Are there specific times of day, certain audiences or particular customers that demand more?
Every interaction is important, however to consider all moments as equally as important is naïve. Each customer matters, but the volume of customers is cyclical, regular. Not to flex capacity in recognition of fluctuating demand is commercial suicide.
Every day organisations demonstrate that they either don’t understand this, or don’t care. For a service business this is inexcusable. Acts speak louder than words and the message is clear.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s convenient. Your customers don’t care whether it’s convenient for you or not, their perspective is entirely selfish, you have one opportunity to impress, to satisfy, or not.
These critical moments define the customer experience and will make or break your reputation. You’d better anticipate them, and up your game to meet the demands. There are plenty of moments when the pressure will be off, but now’s the time to operate at full potential.