What is exceptional customer service anyway?
The United States Thesaurus states that exceptional means outstanding, excellent, brilliant, extraordinary, or incomparable.
When was the last time that …?
… received exceptional, extraordinary, or unmatched customer service?
… were you surprised or happy that a business or service provider exceeds your expectations?
… felt important or valued after making a purchase?
… were they treated so well that the service made you smile or feel special?
… you walked away saying WOW!
WO W stands for Wonderful, Outstanding and Way beyond what you expected!
In my experience, the WOW factor is hard to find.
It is often said that up to 95% of businesses will fail in their first five years. If a company lacks customers, it can no longer exist. 68% of customers will leave due to the attitude or indifference of the Service.1 The good news is that 68% of customer retention is under our control. Read on for 3 reasons to provide WOW service, 3 leading customer service companies, and 3 personal ways I’ve been wowed.
Here are 3 big “R” advantages to providing exceptional customer service to retain customers:
- REduce costs– It costs us between 6 and 7 times more to get a new client than to keep the current one. 2
- RFacilitate sales– Regular customers spend 67% more. 3
- Reappearancegenerate referrals– A loyal customer will typically recommend up to 7 people after they have made 10 purchases. 3
Satisfied customers stay longer, cost less to service, and are easier to maintain. Also, they pay less attention to what their competitors are doing because. In contrast, dissatisfied customers tell 9 to 12 people about a negative experience. Many times we don’t even know that our customers are unhappy because only 2% will tell you. Most customer changes happen without a customer telling you.
Here are 3 examples of leading companies in exceptional customer service:
1. Nordstrom’s – “offering the best possible service, selection, quality and value”.
Nordstrom’s, founded in 1901, has a long-standing reputation for fanatical customer service. Its entire business model revolves around maintaining a customer-centric culture. My daughter worked for Nordstrom’s for several years, so I was able to observe their unmatched customer service and customer retention practices.
Brand loyalty had been ingrained in Rayna since her interview, when the hiring manager said, “This may be the only interview you have to do in your entire life.” The seed was planted for a long-term professional vision; the pride of the company passed. This loyalty has a positive impact on how Nordstrom employees treat the end customer.
Nordstrom’s does not have a cumbersome policy and procedure book. Its values dictate the rules:
- Some of my favorite heroic stories are: Do whatever it takes to make the customer happy.
- Use your best judgment.
- Smile even if the customer doesn’t deserve it.
- Look for opportunities to become a customer hero. “Heroic” – Employees who witness a colleague providing excellent customer service are encouraged to write a description of what they saw.
A Nordstrom salesman delivering a suit to a customer’s hotel on short notice.
- Ironing a shirt for a client who had a meeting that afternoon.
- Wrapping a gift for a customer that was purchased at Macy’s.
- Heating a customer’s car in winter for a customer while the customer finishes shopping.
- Knit a shawl for an older client who needed a special length to clear the spokes of the wheelchair.
- Sell two different shoe sizes to a customer
What can you do to go out of your way for your current clients? Can you make a positive connection? Make them smile? Make them laugh?
2. Southwest Airlines represents freedom [to fly] and we are committed to showing our Customers something different in the airline industry – low fares every day and superior customer service. With this simple approach, they’ve survived the good times and bad: price hikes, increased fuel prices, and more. They live to be the kindest service in heaven.
I am a fan of Southwest Airlines and some of the special ways they surprise me are:
- Resist additional baggage fees when the other airlines have.
- Send customers an anniversary card.
- Reward customers with loyalty rewards drink coupons.
- Have humor and dignity when talking to your customers in flight. Their culture has a fun spirit.
3. Walt DisneyIt is a magical place that describes its surroundings by saying, “We create happiness. “
They capture the imagination of the customer. The average family will save up to three years for a trip to Disney World. Disney World recognizes that guest expectations are for the park to be clean, friendly, and fun. Each employee is responsible for exceeding these expectations. What do your customers expect from you? Can you creatively exceed these expectations?
You don’t have to be an employee of Nordstrom, Southwest, or Disney World to create a WOW response.
I’ve had three WOW experiences lately that might inspire you to think about your own WOW opportunities:
1. Amel Restaurant, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My husband and I went back to a restaurant we went to when we were dating. We shared our story with our waiter: we were there to visit, we moved, and we were there thirty years ago as boyfriends. Then he showed up with a glass of wine at the house to celebrate. After our meal, we were surprised when the server brought out a special dessert and had written (in chocolate syrup) around the plate “Welcome back”. Finally, the owner came to personally acknowledge us. We were so moved by the way they made us feel that we bought a gift certificate so we could send our friends there.
2.Cheesecake factory – During a recent business trip to the East Coast, while speaking at an International Women’s Conference, two other speakers and I had our flights canceled. We went to dinner a bit put off by our delay and mentioned our plight to the server. He quickly empathized and offered to stay at his place. We do not accept, however, your answer moved us.
We wanted to share an entry. While some establishments charge a fee for shared meals or simply forbid it, our waitress offered us another piece of fish so that our food could be shared without having to order more than we wanted. His general demeanor was so accommodating that I reported to his manager that he had exceeded our expectations. He replied, “Good to know, because we reward our staff with a free dinner certificate every time a customer congratulates them. And they get a free meal for every compliment.”
3. Fed Ex Kinkos – I was making a display panel for a presentation and had difficulty mounting the items on my display panel. The employee saw that he was having problems. Seeing this, he quickly helped me measure my board and outfitted me with the proper adhesive. It took longer than we both think, so when the employee said “we normally charge for this service, but this time I won’t,” I was certainly impressed. I would have gladly paid for his time, however the fact that he went out of his way without charging made me want to tell everyone about it.
FedEx Kinkos isn’t the least expensive place to get copies, however I happily pay a bit more if necessary due to their service. They have saved me so many times in a hurry before a presentation. I sent them documents in the middle of the night that were to be finished and delivered in the morning. It is a good idea to establish a relationship with your local Fed Ex Kinkos.
About a week later, I received a follow-up call with a short survey about my experience. On a scale of 1 to 10 they wanted to know if you were satisfied with the service you had received. They got a perfect 10+ plus from me.
Each of these examples surprised me. They found a way to provide the level of service from Nordstrom, Disney, and Southwest by paying attention to my needs and making me smile and feel special. They gave me more than I bargained for and they were memorable.
Remind your clients and i know memorable to his clients.
Consider the many ways you can communicate with someone in a personal way … by letter, email, phone, face-to-face. How can you create a WOW experience?
© 2010 All rights reserved. Barb girson Original work
Edited by Robyn Girson
1 American Society for Quality and the Center for Quality and Productivity
2 Harvard Business Review
3 Bain and Company, 2002