What sets you apart from your competitors usually has less to do with your products or services, and more to do with how you treat people. The most successful companies in the world understand this and place a major emphasis on creating a legendary customer experience. Just think about companies like Apple, Southwest Airlines, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Their focus on the customer experience has transformed their company and made them game-changers and industry-influencers.
If you’re committed to winning the game, the question is obvious. “How do I provide legendary customer service that makes me stand head-and-shoulders apart from my competition?” You have to get a number of things right, that’s for sure. But one of the best places to start is getting feedback from the very people you serve. The concept is simple yet powerful. Create an ongoing dialogue with your customers in order to gauge your performance and identify areas of improvement.
Author Fred Reichheld calls this asking “The Ultimate Question.” In his book by the same name, Reichheld demonstrates through extensive research that most customer satisfaction surveys miss the mark miserably. Rather than waste your time, energy and money creating complex customer surveys that few people respond to (and even fewer respond to honestly), Reichheld claims that you can learn everything you need to know by simply asking your customers “The Ultimate Question.” The question is quite simple and easy to ask, and Reichheld and his team have even created a scoring system called “The Net Promoter Score” (or NPS for short). The ultimate question is simply this…
Following Net Promoter guidelines, if your customer gives you a 9 or 10, they are a promoter. If they give you a 7 or 8, they are passive. If they give you a 6 or less, they are a detractor. The goal is to prevent detractors and to turn as many customers as possible into promoters. You do this by creating a WOW experience for your customers.
You need to get 100% clear on this reality: it isn’t enough to merely “satisfy” your customers anymore. You have to find ways to exceed their expectations, to go above and beyond! This is what creates the WOW. Consider these three key business areas proven to be behind most if not all customer service successes. How do you measure up?
- Your staff. How do your employees engage and interact with prospects and customers? Are they polite, courteous, positive, caring? Most important of all, are they good listeners who understand what your customers need?
- Your execution. Have you identified and offered the best solution to solve your customer’s need, and provided that solution with quality, speed and excellence?
- Your recovery. How well does your business recover from customer service breakdowns? Do you resolve service issues quickly and compensate your customers fairly for any problems? Does your company have a simple problem resolution process? Are your frontline staff trained and capable of solving problems in a positive and efficient manner?
Making positive changes in these three areas will have a significant impact on your bottom line. But the main point to take away from this post is this: engage your customers in an ongoing dialogue. Ask the right question, the Ultimate Question. Take the criticism along with the praise, because as Bill Gates once said…
Stay focused on what you’re doing right, and work on what you need to do better. And all the while, keep the lines of communication open with your valued customers. The information they provide could revolutionize your business! Remember, the truth is out there!