When I say customer service, what comes to mind?
Is it endless hours spent on hold while trying to resolve an issue with your cable company? A faceless voice telling you to restart your router after your Internet went out (even though you’ve tried that three times)? A bored sales rep refusing to accept your unwanted merchandise because it’s two days past the return date?
Well, you’re not alone. Most people have had similar experiences that lead them to believe that customer service is the pariah of the sales world. In fact, when people contact customer service, they usually expect to be treated badly.
At OBO, we approach the idea of customer service much, much differently. We live by the book Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles, which has taught us to strive for “raving fans customer service.”
Why Good Isn’t Good Enough Anymore
Let’s begin with words of wisdom straight from the authors’ mouths:
Your customers are only satisfied because their expectations are so low and because no one else is doing better. Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.
Excellent customer service is what sets apart A-list businesses from the rest. Meaning: you want customer service so beyond your customer’s expectations that they’re left shocked, impressed, and wanting more.
Decide What You Want
Before you can provide customer service worthy of raving fans, you have to create “a vision of perfection centered on the customer.”
Anything using the word perfect can seem intimidating. So remember, you don’t have to be perfect, you just need to imagine the perfect version of your business and how it will serve the customer.
So close your eyes and visualize exactly what you want your business to be: every little detail matters. Once you have the “perfect” vision in your head, compare it to what’s actually happening right now; if there are differences, work to make changes that will bridge the gap between vision and reality.
Discover What the Customer Wants
In order to provide what your customer is interested in, you have to discover your customer’s vision of “what they really want, and then alter your vision if need be.”
It may seem redundant to create your own vision when you are going to alter it based on your customers’, but it is still necessary. After all, you can only give your customer the product they want after you decide what the product is going to be.
That said, you don’t have to provide every service under the sun; just focus on perfecting the ones in your vision, and customers will come.
Uncovering Your Customer’s Vision
There are a few ways to uncover your customer’s vision, but the most successful is to go to them. Ask for feedback from past customers, and be sure to listen to what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. That’s because customers will often say one thing and mean the other.
An example: a tech company says they want a new and stylish look for a phone case, but what they really mean is that they want to take the current industry-leading design and replicate it as much as they can without being taken to court. So, you have to listen to your customers, but still know your market enough to understand what they really want.
You also have to listen to what your customers don’t say. For example, when a customer says everything’s fine, or nothing at all, you have a problem. Neither of those responses are good because they assume you don’t actually care about what they think. If you do get those answers, be sure to work on changing your company image to show that you do care.
Deliver Plus One
Finally, you’ll want to deliver your vision plus one percent.
- Deliver an extra one percent all the time. Consistency is crucial when it comes to pleasing your customers; don’t give 101 percent during one interaction and 75 percent the next.
- Don’t try to deliver more than you’re capable of. The extra one percent is still more than what you and your competitors have been doing; you need to make sure you can do successfully that before you move on to the next thing.
The Key to Guaranteeing Consistency
Systems–it’s as simple as that.
Rules focus on procedures, not necessarily results. Systems, on the other hand, act as guidelines and can be altered when necessary.
As a result, you need to have a package of systems that defines how to implement your vision as well as a training program to teach those systems to your employees. Once they are familiar with the program, employees can personalize the systems for each customer.
Raving Fans Ready
Okay, that was a lot of information. Let’s review how to implement raving fans customer service:
- Create your vision centered on the customer’s needs.
- Discover your customer’s vision.
- Deliver your vision plus one percent.
Next, you need systems to provide consistent and praise-worthy customer service, as well as enough time for your employees to fully understand the systems.
Of course, this three step guide isn’t definitive. Your customer’s vision is always changing, as should your vision. But if you stick to these practices consistently, you’ll turn your everyday customers into raving, spending fans.
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