Out-love your competition. This is one of my favorite new phrases. Think about it. Nearly everything can be copied: the products or services that you sell, your décor, website functionality, and prices. Can you really out-work your competition? Out-think them? However, the one area you can get a distinct competitive advantage is by out-loving the businesses you compete against. The only way to do that is stop the typical squawking that goes on about how difficult customers can be, and just start really appreciating them.
Celebrate your Customer
I am not talking about simply having a customer appreciation event or week, or starting a VIP program, which are all good practices to implement. What I am talking about is having internal customer appreciation awareness campaigns. This will dramatically change the mindset of your employees, even yourself. Far too many businesses sit around and discuss how difficult their customers can be, how demanding they are, how they have unrealistic expectations. You hear employees and managers too often talk about that one customer who is never happy and always wants something for free. I truly believe that while this reflects a minute percentage of a customer base, it seems like so much more because of how often they are discussed.
Do you want to have high service aptitude? Do you want your employees to have compassion and empathy for your customers? Well, start having employees talk about their favorite customers, the ones who make them love their job. Have your employees tell stories of the times when they have had the biggest impact on a customer’s day. Companies need to create several outlets where employees can share and hear about how lucky they are to have so many good customers who count on them and are great to do business with. This will change the tone from “us versus them,” to genuine care about your customers, and make everyone on your team grateful that your customers are giving you their business versus your competition. As you think of ways to out-love your customers, please share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let Your Customers Tell Their Stories
World-class customer service organizations do an excellent job of soliciting and sharing above and beyond stories from their customers. They do it by making it easy for customers to share their experience at checkout, online, etc. Then these companies have excellent internal communication to make sure all employees hear how one of their co-workers went above and beyond for a customer, which stimulates and increases everyone’s service aptitude and perpetuates this type of behavior. I recently heard of a very unique way an Office Depot employee did exactly this. After being told by a customer that she loved coming into the store because of how nice everyone who works there is, the Office Depot employee asked the customer if she would like to share what had just been said with the entire staff. The employee then proceeded to hand the customer her headset and the customer repeated her comment, this time for the entire store to hear. Then she heard applause coming from all over the store. What a great example of capturing a customer’s raving fan moment and inspiring the rest of the team!
Let them Hear Your Love
Have you listened to your voice mail recently? I am shocked by how many professionals, (top executives on down) have very unfriendly voice mail messages on their office phones and cells. From the sound of their voice to the lack of enthusiasm, I am not looking forward to actually speaking with them, nor do I want to do business with them. Many of these people are very nice; however, like most, when they created their own voice mail greeting, it was rushed and came off sounding so inhospitable, or too scripted and robotic. Recreate yours and make sure it encompasses your enthusiasm, sincerity, and offers options (i.e. “If you like, you can always email me, or call my assistant at…”).
Actually if you really want to ‘wow’ people, download www.youmail.com to your smart phone. This application is one of the best service tools I have ever come across, and it is free. It has many features, but the best one is the personalized voice mail greeting. Any time someone who is already in your contact list calls you, they will hear a personalized voice mail greeting. There are two ways this works: 1) The easy way is to choose a generic voice to automatically say, “Hi Brian (or whatever the caller’s name is), John is unavailable right now, but will call you back as soon as he can,” or 2) For the people who call you the most, (I did this with my three boys,) you can record a personal greeting just for them with your voice in 20 seconds, i.e. “Hi Cal, I am tied up right now, but I want to talk to you really bad. I will call you back as soon as I can, promise. I love you.”
John R. DiJulius III, best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the president of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America's #1 Customer Service Conference.