It’s an old adage that I’ve mentioned before in my writings and video lessons: People, as in customers, like to do business with people they know like and trust. The knowing and liking is easy. Just creating a good image and having a good reputation makes it easy for customers to want to like you. Be nice and respectful and they start to feel like they are getting to know you. But, the trusting is more difficult. You have to earn your customers’ trust by following through and creating a predictable experience.
Creating trust is paramount to creating customer loyalty. And anytime you have an opportunity to prove yourself and establish a little more trust with the customer, take advantage of it.
So, how do you know when your customers trust you? Aside from repeat business, referrals and accolades, there is one word that you are looking for them to use as they describe you. That word is always.
They are always so nice. They always take care of me. I can always count on them. And, when there is a mistake or a problem, they always fix it.
So, how do you get to that level of trust? How do you get the word always to be part of your customers’ description of you?
1. Be respectful. Customers want and deserve it. They actually expect it. Say please and thank you. Show up on time.
2. Be predictable. Customers want an experience they can count on. They want to know that if you say the shipment will be there by Thursday, it will. They want to know that the service they get will always be what they expect. Being predictable is so much about the word always.
3. Create consistency. Some would argue that this is the same as being predictable, but hear me out. I may deal with Bob on one day and Sally the next. I don’t expect these two people to be clones of one another. But, I do expect a consistency in their helpfulness and enthusiasm for taking care of me. This is more about the culture and personality of the organization than the actual experience. And, the personality is an important part of the experience.
4. Eliminate friction. It could be slow moving line, a long hold time, complicated forms, having to repeat your account number to the customer service rep after you were asked to key it in on your phone pad. I could go on and on with the friction points that customers of many types of business deal with. Find out what your friction points are and do your best to eliminate them.
5. Don’t fail. Okay, this is not reality. This is actually a goal. Nobody and no organization is perfect. But, trying to be is important. And, having the system to fix the problem properly is important.
Sure, there are more ideas, tips and tactics we can add to this list. (And, feel free to share them with us below.) So, to summarize, creating the always predictable customer experience falls into two areas; operations and culture. Is your system in place, and does it work? Is your culture defined, and do your people walk the talk?
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314)692-2200 or www.hyken.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken