Customer Experience: Lukewarm or On Fire?

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When you have a good product and a decent position in the market, be it location, reputation, whatever – AND you have customers who want what you sell, you have a shot at success. And when those customers want to come back – and more importantly won’t go anywhere else – that’s called loyalty. And taking it a step further, when they are willing to recommend you to others – because they love you – that’s called evangelism. And that is what the Cult of the Customer is all about; creating an amazing experience that turns satisfied customers into customer evangelists. The Cult of the Customer: Create an Amazing Customer Experience That Turns Satisfied Customers into Customer Evangelists, Shep Hyken

My best managerial trait is that I become a customer “nut.” I love reading anything I can get my hands on around ways to reach more customers, keep them coming back for more and making sure they are more than satisfied. I apply this same nuttiness to internal customers too. A few years ago, I was introduced to a very impactful YouTube video by Shep Hyken (“Hyken”) about an extraordinary cab driver’s delivery of great customer service. In short, the cab driver focused on delivering a better-than-average experience all of the time to all of his customers and added some surprises along the way. By no accident, one of Hyken’s books called “The Cult of the Customer” made its way onto my bookshelf. The concepts found within were so inspiring that sharing them with other managers whom are always looking to get better just makes sense. You are sure to find a nugget or two to implement in your operations and increase customer loyalty.

Hyken points out that an organization will never create customer evangelists until it focuses on creating a Cult of Amazement for its internal customers first; it’s employees. As one cannot give what one does not have inside. The employees must be routinely impressed with the experience they receive before they start to recommend the company to other employees and customers. “As the name suggests, the cult is dedicated to delivering amazement. This is the not necessarily the result of perfect customer service (as in never screwing up) but instead the result of making Moments of Magic part of a consistent, ongoing pattern of experiences. Remember, these are experiences that are simply above average, which the customer comes to expect and rely on.”

Hyken suggested that there are many ways to achieve a Cult of Amazement. I will not attempt to summarize all of them here, but I would like to highlight some key concepts from the book and useful strategies that any manager (including myself) looking to capture life-long customers may consider implementing.

(1) From a very practical standpoint, people love to be appreciated and hate to be ignored. Taking more time to show your appreciation for your employees’ efforts and responding to their requests in a timely manner goes a long way to ensure they do the same for your customers. It just makes good business sense to treat your employees well. Practical Tip: Set time to meet one-on-one with your direct reports every week. It may be an overwhelming thought, but it speaks volumes to your team members about what commitment and loyalty mean to you.

(2) When there is a problem, your goal is not just to fix it, but to restore your customers’ confidence. As a manager, we are expected to: Fix the problem; Do it with a positive accountable attitude and Act with urgency. It makes no sense to try and argue with a customer unless you do not want to continue to service their needs. In the end, customers like to know that you are not afraid to admit that you are not perfect; they like transparency and they like dealing with organizations that can solve their pains with a smile. Be that organization! Practical Tip: Commit to delivering hand-written personal notes to any of your loyal customers, especially those whom have experienced less than above-average service from your organization.

(3) Whenever a customer touches your organization, they form an impression-no matter how small. Generally, touch points are interactions. The key is to identify your organization’s key touch points by: Holding a meeting with your employees and Identifying and mapping out all of your touch-points to include the behind-the-scenes aspects of your business that might impact the customer’s experience. Customers are also involved in this process. Then, make sure to:

a. Create ways to improve in some of these areas

b. Brainstorm ideas on how to add value to your existing offering

c. Most importantly, ask your customers what they want by administering traditional customer satisfaction surveys and more relationship surveys that measure loyalty. Check out this company for a widely-used system for surveying your customers. Practical Tip: If you do not already use some sort of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool to track your organization’s customer interactions, research your options right away. This is one of the most effective ways to monitor your touch points on a daily basis.

Any brand or company-big or small- can decide to work to create a Cult of Amazement within their organization. In my long history being a customer-facing leader, I have found that by putting the proper systems in place to ensure your organization and its people are prepared to perform at an above-average level every time cannot be overstated. You may even notice that your customers are becoming more and more confident in your ability and desire to exceed their expectations. And they will tell others.

Have fun building your own Cult of Amazement!

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Thank you for reading this post. I get really excited talking and writing about this topic. If you found it of interest, please do Share it with other who might benefit. I am always open to feedback as well.

Special thanks for @Shep Hyken for writing such a stellar book!

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