How to Make Your Business More Successful & Profitable
What is your “Special Sauce” that differentiates you?
The easiest way to outshine your competition is to provide truly exceptional service, I learned 50 years ago how to “WOW” customers from my father who owned butcher’s shops, he taught me how to “Engage Team”, “WOW CUSTOMERS” and the “Law of Reciprocity” where you give first and get back in buckets.
He had thriving businesses because he continually explored with his team ways to engage them, have fun, excite the customer and grow his people whilst being firm but fair. In my book “The People Pill” I have many stories of “WOWing” the customer and a lot came from him and adaptions of what he did….there was no rocket science, people state, yes, yes, we have heard all that before….I agree, then ask them what are the “WOW” factors they are using in their business, it is rare to get an answer of anything they are doing to really wow their customers.
Think of a time in the past 3 months that you have had “Service that Knocks your Socks off!” where you couldn’t wait to refer family and friends to that business.
I ask this at my customer service workshops, and it is rare to get one or two stories from a hundred participants. Everyone should have their hand up as all businesses state their customer is number one, why isn’t it happening? Sad, but true, when I ask for bad service stories they had in the past week most hands go up!
Work with your team to find wow factors and differentiate your business from the competition, one business I have been working with for a number of years now obtain 87% of new business directly from existing customer referrals. What does this mean…they have totally engaged customers who have become raving advocates, which negates the need to advertise.
Customer Service, the precursor to “WOWing” your customers does not change, yes, it is common sense, BUT not very common!
When I became CEO of Westpac Financial Services in 1994 my first “Contact Point” column in our monthly staff magazine focused on customer excellence. I reminded our team that customer excellence, that is, the attainment of raving advocates, will be the key to our ongoing success. It will become what differentiates us from our competitors. I also reminded them that if they felt they were providing superior service currently, to remember the old adage, “You don’t have to be ill to get better,” as a poignant reminder of our obligation to the pursuit of customer excellence.
I then provided them with “The Ten Commandments of Customer Excellence.” I feel these points remain relevant today, and so I have modified them from their original focus on providing financial services advice to being generically applicable to any business.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF CUSTOMER EXCELLENCE
1. Keep ‘em coming back.
Experience dictates that the only way to really find out what our customers want is to ask. As one sales motivator expresses it, “Give it to them…and then some.” Within your particular business you need to utilize tools that expertly discover your customer’s real needs and then match product and systems to these needs. Ensure you tailor for each individual situation (within reason).
2. Excellent service depends on excellent systems.
Being courteous and friendly is only the beginning of customer excellence. Our systems must be such that they enable us to deliver. This ensures that we can do the job right the first time—every time. You need to be committed to continual improvement of systems to support frontline staff. Having said that, do not allow staff to blame systems, especially if there are examples of customer excellence being provided by other staff using the same systems.
3. Offer less, deliver more.
Customers come back when we keep our promises. Give them a pleasant experience by exceeding their expectations on a regular basis. In this day and age expectations can be high; “offer less” does not mean reducing your value proposition, it means having a great offer and then delivering more. As an example of providing more for less, we at Westpac gave a commitment to producing simple, cost-effective products that would meet and exceed our customers’ cost versus return expectations…and then delivered!
4. Treat the business as if you own it.
Every person in the business needs to have the mindset that this is my business. If every interaction with colleagues, business partners, and customers occurs with the thought in mind that our life savings are invested in this business, then outcomes will be different. It is a leader’s responsibility to provide the environment where this is possible, and so it has to start with all leaders respecting, valuing, and trusting their team. Make everyone feel special! This will make a difference—when you change your behavior to others they will change theirs. This mindset will quickly improve customer service and the bottom line. A “wowed” customer becomes a raving advocate who cannot wait to sing your praises to family and friends, resulting in a massive lift in referred customers.
5. Follow the “Sundown Rule.”
There is a maxim that states: “If you never hear a complaint, something is wrong.” If this is the case, chances are your customers are complaining to your competitors. We introduced the “Sundown Rule”: on receipt of a customer complaint, we undertook to contact the customer by day’s end—even if it was only to acknowledge receipt and advise them how we would proceed with their complaint. Then we ensured there was a fool-proof diarized follow up system in place to ensure our promises were fulfilled. Promise to get back to them within 72 hours, diary for 48 and get back to them a day early, they will be pleasantly surprised helping to take the heat out of the situation.
6. Remember your manners.
Our moms were right. People like courtesy—anything less is unprofessional and unacceptable. Recall the last time you were treated with discourtesy as a customer. If you are like me you are now an ex-customer of that business.
7. Show compassion.
Empathy is good, compassion is great!
Having empathy is about understanding: it’s looking at the situation from another’s perspective and understanding how he or she feels before reacting. As I said, this is good—but we need to be careful that it is not used just to profess understanding. Compassion is empathy in action. I regard it as “commitment with passion” to not only see the situation from another’s perspective but to take action and do something about it.
8. Share ideas and initiatives.
In your business you need to encourage the sharing of best practice ideas and initiatives that demonstrate excellence in customer service. Also, be committed to learning from the world’s best in your particular field. Copying and adapting the world’s best practice ideas to your business, and then improving them, is smart business. Leaders need to seek out the exceptional customer service stories, reward the staff involved, and tell these stories at team meetings.
9. Hiring the right people.
Team Members are the critical link to superior customer service. Hire the best people and then treat them in a manner in which you expect them to treat customers. There is a strong link between how your people feel and how your customers feel.
10. Measure, measure, measure.
A. You need to always strive to be the best and measure your performance against those who excel in your field.
B. You need to continually measure your performance—daily, weekly, and monthly—otherwise you will have no criteria for which to gauge your success.
C. Continually strive to improve your performance in all areas to better your “personal best.”
D. Have an organizational matrix in place that measures results on one axis and behaviors on another. The goal is to have everyone in the quadrant high on results and high on behaviors; you need to ensure that the behaviors being measured are clear, that everyone is aware of their particular behavioral requirements, and ensure that they are easily quantifiable.
I can assure you that if you involve your team and adapt all Ten Commandments of Customer Service to your business, the results will be impressive. Become innovative in how you remind your team of your customer service excellence commandments. Will they be posted with your Vision and Values statements or dot points on laminated pocket cards? Will you have one staff member speak at staff meetings on one point that they excel at?
Whichever way you do it, the key is to keep a constant focus on your commandments of customer excellence. If you can do this, along with encouraging a culture of developing your people, you will be well on your way to having a very successful business.
See! Written in 1994, yet it still applies today!
If you would like to look at options to improve your bottom line by engaging customers contact Ken for an obligation free discussion.
Ken Wright +61 414 157657