Connect with us

Compete to Win

Win Customer Loyalty With an Unexpected Experience

Here are a few ingredients from the Corley recipe of service with sprinkles.

Chip Bell

Published

on

Customer-loyalty

Display of a generous attitude has a magnetic impact on customers. It draws them in because it conveys the kind of unconditional positive regard that characterises relationships at their best. I believe customers like the way they feel when they’re part of relationships laced with substance as opposed to encounters that are merely functional.

Ask my business partner Susan Oldham about Corley, a plumbing, heating and electric company in Greenville, S.C., and she’ll immediately go into a passionate discourse. She’s not just a satisfied customer. She is an enamored advocate.

For her, the company has demonstrated what I call ‘service with sprinkles’, the topic of my new book Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service.

Just like sprinkles make a good cupcake truly special, this kind of service turns a value-added experience into something especially unique. The unexpected enchanting experience is more than a service that wows customers. They are in awe.

Corley has used an innovative service approach to a familiar trades business.

Related: 10 Mindsets That Will Radically Improve Your Business

1. Always add an extra helping

“You cannot mandate a generous attitude,” Corley owner Chris Corley tells me. “It must be embedded in the culture – from who you hire, how you train, to what you value. Two of our core values are character and unselfishness.”

A Corley website video shows company technicians describing how they have gone the extra mile for various customers. Technician Blake Turner inquired of one client if he played any of the guitars on display in his home.

It turned out the customer had arthritis and his hands hurt. After some conversation, “he asked me if I would play for him,” Turner recalled, noting how he enjoyed playing for the customer.

Technician Jeremy Barnes recounted an exchange with a customer battling cancer who had not decorated her home with the Christmas tree stashed in her attic. “I think she was dreading that time of year,” he said. Barnes got down her tree and decorations and helped her start hanging ornaments.

Provide your customers the best that you have and the best will come back to you.

2. Give consumers information

Business owners can also provide customers the gift of learning. Customers today truly value service providers who demonstrate an interest in their learning. Home Depot’s in-store workshops have the potential to turn satisfied customers into advocates.

Corley provides a monthly Girls Night Out event, directed at female customers and the brainchild of marketing manager Katie Sullivan.

“It’s been a while, but we are finally talking about water heaters,” a February event e-vite explained. “We all agree that life without hot water would be a lot less pleasant so we are giving this often under-appreciated appliance its own night.”

On the agenda aside from refreshments: efficiency rating standards on water heaters. “Don’t worry; you won’t get dirty and you can come after work,” the invitation noted.

According to surveys of 10,000 customers done by Customer Care Measurement & Consulting’s vice chairman John Goodman, published in his 2009 book Strategic Customer Service, proactively providing customers new and useful information increases the likelihood of a repurchase 32 percent.

Related: 3 Ways to Keep It Simple When You Have the Urge to Add One More Feature

3. Make the service as easy to use as a TV dinner

Are you a service provider who makes reaching a live person harder than winning the lottery? Do you hold your customers hostage with high switching costs or complicated account-closing rules?

When customers call, do you use your phone as an answering machine instead of an easy tool for two-way dialogue? Is your company always reachable when customers need it or do you impose business hours convenient only to you? Is the company’s service delivery always on time? Is the company’s self-service option a “you are entirely on your own” arrangement?

Corley customers receive an email with a photo of the technician on the way along with a shot of the dispatcher. If they click on the photo, they can learn the background of the arriving staffer.

Technicians focus on being easy to do business with. “When they enter a customer’s home, they treat it just like a castle whether it be a 900-square-foot house or a 5,000-square-foot house,” technician Randall Rainey said on the website video.

“We want to always leave our customers’ homes better than we found them,” Chris Corley tells me. And after a visit, customers receive a hand written thank-you note from the technician. This almost guarantees that if customers need service again, they will ask for the technician by name.

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain said in a Slate interview: “Anyone who’s a chef, who loves food, ultimately knows that all that matters is: Is it good? Does it give pleasure?” Innovative service is a blend of these same two sentiments.

Customers want service that is good – meaning it successfully fulfills their needs or accomplishes the outcome desired.

And they will remember and tell others about service that also comes with an experience that gives customers unexpected pleasure. Take a lesson from Corley and make your customers’ experiences come with sprinkles.

Related: How to Build a Business That Works Without You

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Compete to Win

How Excellent Customer Service Affects Your Business’ Bottom Line

Business owners say great customer service is important. In fact, it’s so important it can make or break your bottom line. Here’s how to make it work for you.

Peter Davidson

Published

on

customer-service

Business owners say great customer service is important. In fact, it’s so important it can make or break your bottom line. Learning how this works will help you make improvements to your customer service that will bring more in to your business.

Why Customer Service Matters So Much

Bizness Apps says there are several reasons why your customer service matter so much, including:

  • This is how your customers remember you. Having a positive reputation is great, but customers tend to remember negative customer interactions more. Research shows that you’ll need 12 positive experiences to make up for one bad one.
  • Your customer service says a lot about your business. Customers often base the quality of your product on this interaction. This is why you should spend as much time and money on your customer service as you do on your products or services.
  • Customers want to feel like you care about them. By playing to their emotions and treating them with genuine courtesy and respect, they’re far more likely to invest their faith in your business. Pause for just a moment to think about how they pay your bills and that should help you genuinely appreciate them.
  • Good customer service honestly makes everyone’s lives easier. When it’s easy for your customers to contact you, it’s also easier for them to buy your products or services. This is why you should add contact forms and a FAQ page on your website and include customer service tools in your custom-built app. While offering other forms of contact are great, you don’t want to make it impossible to find your phone number.
  • Offering great customer service is a profitable marketing strategy. Word-of-mouth marketing does more than most A+ marketing teams can. Start by getting your customers raving about your company’s customer satisfaction standards then include customer testimonials and happiness ratings to show potential customers how much you’re there for them. When you tap into this and have your customers start your praises of their own accord, you’re tapping into a gold mine.
  • Don’t undervalue customer service because your clients always have alternatives available. It’s relatively easy for them to go to a competitor who’s offering them what you’re not. In fact, studies show that about 78% of consumers have backed out of transactions or failed to make an intended purchase simply because they received sub-par customer service. In today’s global marketplace, businesses that don’t have the tools to make it easier for their customers to do business with them get left behind.
  • Maintaining your customer base will cost you significantly less money than you’ll spend trying to attract new customers. Loyal customers are typically worth as much as ten times more than their first purchase. However, you won’t cash in here if you don’t prioritise customer success. If you’re wondering what the value here is personally for your company, stop and consider the money, time, and other investments you place in onboarding new clients. You’re guaranteed to save in all these areas by having your clients stick around.
  • While it’s important to drive traffic to your business, if you can’t transform this traffic into leads then the sales really aren’t much use. This requires a careful balancing act that you’ll grow better at as time goes on.

Related: Improve Your (Superior) Customer Service By Focusing On The Little Things

To Improve Your Customer Service, Choose the Right Phone System for you and Your Customers

Forbes says a cloud-based phone system helps with improving communication. In many cases this will help fix any problems you’ll experience in providing great customer service because now you can also provide over-the-internet support services. This is beneficial for your customers in several ways, including:

  • Maintaining consistency in customer interactions and minimising the number of touch-points or different contacts that are involved in each customer’s interaction with your company will improve both their satisfaction and their loyalty because fewer transitions between customer service providers means there’s fewer opportunities for an error to occur. Not only is this something research shows, but the same research also shows that each touchpoint in your customer chain must be held accountable for the end result of your customer’s interaction with your business.
  • You need to simplify and clarify any support text that’s on your website. If you can’t do this, they you should get rid of it altogether.  These small changes can help your customers help themselves so they won’t send in as many support requests. If you choose to get rid of your support text altogether, make sure you instruct your customers to email you for help. This may make it easier for you to keep track of your customers’ issues so you make changes that eliminate them in the future.
  • Listen to what’s being said about you on social media then respond appropriately. Every complaint or concern that’s raised online is an opportunity for you to win over additional customers while also solving your customer’s problem and increasing their satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Show your customers that you always put them first by checking with them throughout the onboarding process. Sending an email or a handwritten note expressing your appreciation goes a long way.

Related: When It Comes To Customer Care – Don’t Be Good, Be Awesome

Forbes continues on to say you never know when a complication with your product or service may arise. When it does you’ll want to work quickly to solve your customer’s problem. Even if they simply don’t understand how to use your product or service, it’s still up to you to fix this issue. Unfortunately, there isn’t always a simple solution available. Many times, you can fix it by offering exceptional over-the-phone or over-the-internet support though.

One Last Thing…

While you may feel like there’s a lot of information here to remember, Talkdesk says the most important thing to remember about this topic is it’s really hard to make up for a bad customer experience. Sure, we all make mistakes, but when it comes to customer support you really can’t afford to make them. Remember, it’ll take 12 good experiences for your business to make up for one lousy experience, which means you could lose out on a lot of money.

Continue Reading

Compete to Win

How You Can Over-Deliver To Gain The Advantage

Go over and above for the people you serve, and you will enjoy the benefits of an abundant relationship.

Published

on

competitive-advantage

Wise, established entrepreneurs know that over-delivering value — which simply means going above and beyond for the people we serve to deliver more satisfaction for our service and thus exceed expectations — is crucial to a business’s survival, growth and future. It represents the core of a company’s foundation. And without a solid foundation, a business is always vulnerable to a person or company that does over-deliver.

To ensure you don’t ever forget the importance of over-delivering value, here are three ways it will give you and your company a distinct competitive advantage:

1. Creates abundance

Success comes most to those who are surrounded by people who want their success to continue. When you over-deliver value, people may be sceptical at first, thinking that you are expecting something in return, but when you are consistent and genuine with your intentions, they begin to trust and appreciate that you are just thinking of them.

Related: Your Questions Answered With Alan Knott-Craig

You never know the value of the value you are delivering. But I’ve learnt that if you are consistently delivering greater value to people, your value becomes more and more aligned with the immediate needs of the people and companies you are serving — and abundance in the relationship is created. This is what over-delivering value is all about.

2. Earns respect

Entrepreneurs who take the time to over-deliver value are the ones who earn respect. Typically early-stage entrepreneurs tend to find ways to be the recipient of someone else’s value in a search for momentum.

You never know which transactional seed is going to grow, but when adding value to others, this type of seed is never forgotten.

For example, every quarter, I deliver a white paper to clients with the intention to challenge their thinking. My goal is for them to know that regardless of whether I am conducting business with them or not, I am thinking of them and thus strengthening our long-term relationship. And since my white papers focus on predicting future leadership trends and business strategies, when a related topic arises in one of their strategy meetings, they don’t hesitate to call me to discuss an opportunity for us to engage.

3. Enables distinction

Entrepreneurs who add value to others create and sustain a distinction in the minds and hearts of those they are serving. After all, most people are simply doing what they’re told to do inside the box they are given. Entrepreneurs can’t afford to do that.

Related: 7 Steps To Optimise Your Cycle Of Customer Service

We are the originators, the innovators and the opportunity seekers. We live our lives constantly in search of ways to add value to make things better. We disrupt the status quo. We are not in the business of fixing the old ways of doing things. We create new ways of doing things. If entrepreneurs are technically the experts at adding value through our products, services and brands, why can’t we add value through the people we depend upon most for our success?

Over-delivering value is the key not only to being a successful entrepreneur but also to the entrepreneurial mindset we must continually cultivate in ourselves and others. No one is successful alone. We must see the value in over-delivering value by being other-directed and connecting dots of opportunity with focus and purpose to become smarter and wiser, while making ourselves invaluable to the people and businesses we serve.

Continue Reading

Compete to Win

How Netflix Is Now Disrupting The Film Industry By Embracing Short-Term Chaos

One wrong move and Netflix could have been nothing more than a footnote in the history of entertainment. But by staying ahead of the curve and embracing disruption, the company is threatening some very entrenched competitors.

GG van Rooyen

Published

on

okja

Attendees of the annual Cannes Film Festival are typically not afraid to be vocal in their dislike of a new film — booing and hissing are both surprisingly common — but the recent film Okja possibly set some sort of record. The crowd was booing and jeering before the film had even properly begun. In fact, all it took was the name of the studio behind the film: Netflix.

Why the animosity? Netflix is disrupting the film industry, and the traditionalists aren’t happy. After debuting at Cannes, Okja wasn’t released in cinemas. No, instead it was released right to Netflix, free to stream as long as you have an account.

Of course, few would have guessed a few years ago that Netflix would ever get into the business of making its own television shows and movies. According to industry lore, entrepreneur Reed Hastings launched Netflix because he was annoyed with the exorbitant late fees of video/DVD store Blockbuster.

Instead of having to return a movie once you’ve watched it, he conceived of a business that would ship DVDs right to your door through the mail.

Related: Meet The 40 Richest Self-Made Entrepreneurs On Earth

It was a clever idea, but not one that seemed terribly disruptive. The whole process could be a bit of a hassle, and it required you to schedule your entertainment well ahead of time. Blockbuster even had a chance to buy Netflix, but decided that it wasn’t worth it.

The rise of streaming

Even as Netflix was hitting its stride in the early-2000s, the tide was already turning. It was becoming increasingly clear that the Internet was going to be an incredibly disruptive force, but many companies failed to notice. Or, if they did notice, they failed to take adequate action.

By 2007, the potential of streaming TV shows, films, music and books online was clear, but the DVD business was still doing well. However, Netflix decided to prepare for the future (and disrupt its own operations) by launching a streaming service. It did this by going to the traditional movie studios and television networks, and asking to licence their old content.

In the view of these studios and networks, old pieces of entertainment had run their course, so they were pleased with the new revenue stream.

This brings us back to Okja. Netflix has been creating its own content for the last few years because it realised that studios and networks would eventually catch on. At some point, they would understand that they were giving Netflix the ammunition needed to disrupt the industry. Why have Netflix stream your content if you could create your own streaming service?

“The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us,” Hastings said of one of the most popular American cable channels back in 2013.

In a mere 20 years, Netflix has gone from a low-tech operation that sends DVDs through the mail to one that not only streams content online, but is also producing its own content — content from some of the most respected actors, producers and directors in the world. All of this is costing Netflix hundreds of millions of dollars, and it remains to be seen if this strategy will ultimately pay off, but betting against Netflix is risky.

Related: How To Make Money Investing, According To Ashton Kutcher

Netflix has shown itself to be uniquely capable in drastically shifting its business model. Here is how Hastings explains it: “Short-term optimisation about being efficient is the death of long-term success and innovation. Building Netflix, we created a company that tolerated some short-term chaos, and we manage right at the edge of chaos. The value of that is keeping and stimulating the amazing thinkers, so when the market shifts, like DVD to streaming, or licence to original content, we have in Netflix all kinds of original thinkers, and that is the long-term optimisation that all of us in organisations want.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending