Have you ever had a problem with something you purchased, but the manner in which the vendor handled the situation was so exemplary that the situation actually left you as an advocate? Most of us have had an experience like that. Upon further reflection, we would probably realize it was not the resolution itself that generated those feelings. More often it is HOW the resolution is reached that cultivates customer loyalty from a seed of customer dissatisfaction.
We work with a client organization that honors such moments of customer service excellence with something they call an “Extra Miler Award”. This consistent recognition has created a culture of fanatic devotion to outstanding customer service skills. They don’t just look to convert problems into opportunities; they strive to convert ORDINARY customer service moments into EXTRAORDINARY moments of customer delight and customer service excellence. It isn’t easy to stay committed to such an initiative, (customer service training certainly helps) but I have never spent a single day with that customer that they didn’t award at least five or six Extra Milers – some of which would bring you to tears.
Research has shown that bad news travels eight to ten times faster than good news. While that may be true, good news still travels, and the increased sales opportunity that arises out of a good news tour can have a huge impact on your business.
What is the primary reason for that impact? The answer is simple: word of mouth is now far more powerful than advertising in determining how we purchase. An astounding 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 brands are actually links to user generated content! If you own a business, your past customers may be impacting future sales far more than advertising, marketing, or sales initiatives combined! There are over 200 million bloggers, and 34% of them post opinions about products or brands. We live in a world where 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations while only 14% trust advertising.
With the emergence of social media as an integral part of our daily lives, we can no longer afford to just DEAL with customer problems. Strike that term from your company’s language. It is imperative that we treat every customer interaction as a golden opportunity, especially the ones that begin as a problem.
Customer service skills are not instinctive. They cannot be faked. Nor should they be engaged just some of the time. Customers will see through that. Game-changing, loyalty-inspiring customer service requires specific skills training to ensure effective and consistent application. After training, your employees need to be inspired, empowered, and publically recognized for customer service excellence, in order to truly unleash the power of the customer as an evangelist.
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