Your Customer is Important and First Experiences Matter

 

I recently read the book, What’s the Secret: To Providing a World-Class Customer Experience by John DiJulius.  It’s a terrific book and catalogues his experiences while working for such companies as the Ritz-Carlton, Lexus, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Panera Bread and many others.  

John is widely recognized as a leading expert on customer service.  In his book John shares the importance of customer service and why a customer’s first experience is especially important.  In this article you’ll discover the business benefits of good customer service, who your customer is and how service plays online.

Here are some of the things I’ll highlight here:

 

For the First Time I Discovered Customer Services Value

 

John value of providing great customer service through necessity.  About 20 years ago he opened a hair salon with his wife.  Their goal was to create a different customer experience that was different than every other hair salon in their area.  This was a problem since they weren’t sure how to create an experience unlike any other.

When he wrote his first book, Secret Service, he faced a dilemma when it came to naming the book.  Originally he wanted to name it “Mastering a Norm Factor” after the TV program Cheers.  However he was unable to secure the rights to use the name.  

John determined that he wanted their regular customers, and the ones who only came in occasionally, to both feel like the Cheers character Norm.  They wanted their customers to feel that they were part of the their family no matter how often they came in.

His book takes you behind the scenes showing how they gathered intelligence on customers to enable them to personalize their customer service experience for every customer.  John discovered how to differentiate your first-time customers from returning customers, and give each one a unique experience.

 

Why Their First Customer Experience is so Important

 

John states that people aren’t actual customers until they’ve tried you out.  That’s why their first experience with you is so important.  Their first experience sets the tone for future visits.  

Give someone a bad first experience and they’re gone.  Probably never to return.  And from there, every interaction they have with you builds on their previous experiences.  It may even take 3 or 4 experiences before they become a customer.

You have to give them the opportunity to give you a second chance.  It’s essential that you make them feel comfortable and create an emotional connection with them.  To achieve this goal there are some things that have to happen.

When you’re face-to-face with the customer, you need to provide the 5 E’s.  The best part is that the first 3 only take 1 second each to do.  You have to:.

  1. Eye contact
  2. Enthusiastic greeting
  3. Ear-to-ear smile
  4. Engage them
  5. Educate them

 

I believe that many people look at social media only as a marketing tool.  However, there are people who will actually say negative things about you on social media.  How you react is so important.  

You have to address those issues and ensure that your social media responses are done in a timely and thoughtful manner.  You need to be aware of what’s being said about you both positively and negatively.  

What should you do if someone says something negative about your product, service or brand?

 

What is Your Customer Service Vision in the Online World

 

Even if you are strictly an online company, you still need to project a customer service vision so that everyone understands what you stand for.

He talks about the 10 commandments that his last book is based on and how they are the fundamental methodology to every world-class customer service company.  John’s 10 Commandments are listed below:

 

  1. Service Vision
  2. Creating a World-Class Internal Culture
  3. Nonnegotiable Experiential Standards
  4. Secret Service Systems
  5. Training to Provide a World-Class Customer Experience
  6. Implementation and Execution
  7. Zero Risk
  8. Creating an Above-and-Beyond Culture
  9. Measuring Your Customer’s Experience
  10. World-Class Leadership

 

His seventh commandment is Zero Risk.  In his writings, John says that none of us are perfect and we all drop the ball once in a while.  When that happens, we have to be able to recognize this and correct it.  You have make sure that no unhappy customer’s complaints go unanswered.  You must have people know that their issues will be taken seriously.  It can’t be part of your company culture to say “No.”

I agree with John and share his business philosophy, “The answer is yes, now what’s the question?”

In the online world, you have to figure out whatever it is people are asking.  If you are doing the right thing, responding to customer issues quickly and positively, it’s not necessary to give discounts to curry favor with your customers.

 

You See How Social Media and Customer Service Inter-Act

 

John says that if you’re not getting complaints something is wrong.  You’re not making it easy enough for customers to complain.  You need to give customers the opportunity to complain to you.  If you make it difficult for them to register their complaints, they will go elsewhere and they will tell everyone.

What happens when you receive a negative comment.  The first thing you have to do is thank them for taking the time to tell you about their issue.  Don’t ever be defensive.

Next you should ask them how you can make it right.  In many cases this will lead to the issue being taken offline.  What you want to do is impress people with your quick and positive response to their problem.  

Some will not contact you directly, instead venting their frustrations on Facebook, Twitter or another platform with their complaints.  How can you possibly address issues that you are not aware of?  There is a easy and free way using Google Alerts to monitor the web for mentions about your brand.

 

How to Create a Culture of Service Inside Your Company

 

You have to train your staff and leadership to have a service mentality.  Developing an aptitude for service needs to be part of your company culture and philosophy.  Your companies service aptitude comes from three different places.

  1. Life experiences
  2. Previous work experiences
  3. Current work experiences

 

It’s not your employees’ responsibility to have a high service aptitude.  It’s actually the responsibility of the companies owner’s, management and leaders’.  Your service aptitude always starts at the top.  To see how that works, all you have to do is look at every world-class customer service company.

Your customer experience is something you have to talk about every time you are in front of your employees.  Not only how it affects the customer experience, but also how the customer experience affects your business.

You then  need to remember and apply John’s 10 commandments to building your customer experience.  To accompany your customer experience, you’ve got to create a customer service vision statement that is measurable, trainable and observable.  You’ve also got to hire people who have the service DNA and that the vision statement resonates with.

At the end of the day, if leaders and management don’t believe in it, then your employees won’t either.  Ending this article I would like you to consider and answer this question.  Can you name 10 reasons your customers do business with you?

 

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