And once you've hit a home run, customers will expect one every time.
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That expectation may be unfairly high, but it is also real. I once heard a motivational speaker say he stays almost exclusively in Marriott hotels because they deliver his 8 a.m. breakfast at precisely 8 a.m. every time. He claimed that no other hotels he has stayed in deliver that level of service or consistency.
Legions of customers regularly move to the competition because their trusted vendors failed to deliver on expectations created by previous encounters with them--or with other vendors. The reason is, good service is so satisfying. I know. I am a CRM addict. I have tasted the sweetness of outstanding customer service, and am left aching for more. I refuse to give up this habit, this need to be treated well by the companies to which I give my hard-earned dollars. Any time I receive poor service a voice in my head screams: Run! Grab your money and run to a vendor that appreciates your business!
And I do.
I was recently in the express checkout lane at a local supermarket. I already waited nearly 10 minutes when it was finally my turn. Just as the clerk reached for the first of my two items, the manager opened the office door, leaned out (not even bothering to get off her chair) and handed the clerk a bunch of money pouches. There was a huge line of people behind me, and without a word the clerk walked away to distribute the pouches to each of the other clerks. My reaction was to wonder why the manager didn't get off her lazy butt to deliver them herself. Then I realized, well, why should she? I'm sure she's certain that her store will always be busy because it's so convenient. She may want to remember that there are other markets in the neighborhood just a few blocks away--including a new one that understands CRM. And that is where I'll be spending my money from now on.
On the opposite end of the service spectrum we have Cowan Financial Group. Its managing director, Tom Henske, will always be my financial advisor, because he always treats me as if I'm his best customer. In terms of net worth, I'm probably his smallest client, yet he always takes my calls, he's always upbeat and helpful, he always follows through immediately on my requests. He emails me news specific to my financial interests. His attitude and consistency lead me to believe that achieving my financial goals is as important to him as it is to me. So anytime I want to add an investment to my portfolio, he's the one and only person I call.
I've come to expect high standards from Henske. And he delivers every time. It may be unrealistic for customers to expect every company to treat them as an "A" customers if, in fact, they are only "C" customers. But as Henske has proven, there are ways to make "C" customers feel as if they are "A" customers. And doing so will go a long way toward converting the appropriate "C" customers to "A" customer as they grow. "If [people] have good experiences with you they return to you. If they have bad experiences...they won't be back," writes Tom Asacker in Sandbox Wisdom: Revolutionize your brand with the genius of childhood. "One time in which they are not shown empathy is enough to ruin their relationship."
I may have had only two items at the supermarket that day, but I normally have a cart filled to overflowing. It's that business that the supermarket really lost. If a large corporate customer is only ordering a few items today out of the millions of dollars it spends annually with your company, will the experience be one that keeps that customer coming back? Or will it be one that sends the customer running--with its millions of dollars in hand--for your competition?
Contact Ginger Conlon at firstname.lastname@example.org
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