Survival Of The Nicest: Customer Service As A Business Growth (And Survival) Engine

It’s not as easy to build a business today as it was in the Mad Men era when you could hire Don Draper-level marketing experts who could use mass marketing messages and make any product or services sell. All had was to write a check to your advertising agency.

It’s no longer a Mad Men World.

Customers of today base their purchasing decisions on the customer experience and the experiences of those they hear online. Marketing slogans from the past won’t influence them. Then, you can relax and watch the happy and satisfied customers you have created increase your business’s reputation and bottom line.

What if you don’t? If you don’t care about your customer relationships and fail to create a great customer experience for your growing business, Your customers will begin to see you and your product as a commodity. They will also view it interchangeably and put your survival at risk.

Here are five basic principles to help you get out of this danger zone and onto the path to customer-driven business growth.

1. Deliver wow customer service every single day by using the “plus-one” approach

Giving your customer what they want and a little more is one way to wow customers almost every time you interact with them. A plus-one can be something you give more than the customer expected or asked for. You can also provide a “tell extra,” such as answering a question that the customer forgot to ask or providing the emotional support they needed. If you are a firm believer in “plus one,” your company will soon become a customer service legend.

2. Expect them to be mad.

Like the Volvo ads, which explain how they plan to have their cars (survivable!) in a wreck, it is essential to be prepared for what could go wrong when you work with customers. Every customer-focused company has a system for “service restoration”–the process that helps customers who are upset. Before any customer has a problem, their employees are trained on the framework. Marriott’s service-recovery mnemonic spells LEARN are used by Marriott (Listen. Empathize. Apologize. React. Notify); Starbucks uses Starbucks’ memorable spells LATTE (Listen. Acknowledge. Thank. Take Action. Explain).

If your company doesn’t have a service-recovery plan in place, it’s high time you do. You can remain positive even when you are dealing with your most upset customer. Studies show that customers who can turn around an unhappy customer successfully are more likely than others to become loyal and become ambassadors for your company.

3. The goal is to create a company with a “default of no.”

Is there a feeling that you have when you walk into a customer-oriented establishment? (A Nordstrom department store is a prime example) It’s the feeling that you immediately get that everyone there is eager to help you and are just waiting for your specific request. These organizations expect you to be satisfied and have a “default to yes” attitude.

Try to create a similar culture of yes in your company. Your competition will say “no” when they are dealing with customers. These customers will eventually be yours sooner or later.

4. First, hire customer-friendly employees and then train them to increase their effectiveness..

Include customer-friendly personality traits into your hiring criteria. This goes for all technical skills as well. (Here are some examples of customer-focused personality skills that you could incorporate into your hiring strategy. Provide customer service training until your promising new employees are true service heroes. You have many options today for customer service training. These include eLearning and traditional in-person training.

5. Leverage positive peer pressure.

Once you’ve trained and hired customer-friendly employees for the customer service methods described in this article, your team will be in a unique position to create positive peer pressure. You may have wondered why Apple Store employees are so cheerful and helpful. It’s because they have been chosen for their personality and trained to follow this article’s guidelines. However, it’s also evident to all employees (or veterans) that how things are done around here is friendly to customers.

This is the power and potential of positive peer pressure. It lifts everyone and keeps them up when they feel the need to fall or relapse into something more harmful.

A boss who makes it easy for employees to have a bad day or a long commute can cause them or their staff to become anti-customer. Avoid making public pronouncements about “impossible customers” or customers who are “always stealing advantage of you.”

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Samatha Vale
Samatha a senior writer for HC's entertainment team. She is an entreprenuer, mother and an excellent writer. She's also an avid reader, music enthusiast and all around inquisitive person - which is just a nice way of saying she's nosy.

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