Every once in a while I like to take a look back at the writing I’ve done over the last 20 years or so – and my goodness, I’ve done a lot. What makes me the happiest is when I find that the wisdom and ideas I shared in the past is still red-hot relevant today. Tonight, while reading an article on leadership in an issue of Inc. Magazine (still one of my favorites) I was taken aback by how many of the principles we’ve been talking about all these years create situations that wins and add up to what today’s brightest employees are looking for in leaders today.
I decided to look back through some articles I’d written in the past for evidence of that and came upon this article I wrote when I was having fun with anagrams one day. Take a look at EVERYONE WINS.
E – Elevate your customer support people – train, train & reward, reward, reward. Remember that sales is two-part process – getting the customer and keeping the customer. Don’t let the sales people get all the glory. Good customer care is selling too, and it builds the loyalty that makes future sales easy!
V – Verify and measure customer loyalty. Survey often and solicit feedback regularly. Find out what your customers expected and what they think they have received. Measure qualitatively and quantitatively. Make sure it is top management’s priority to see and act on customer perceptions and needs. (By the way, we’re happy to help you with that research. Our clients come back year after year to keep checking in on how they are doing – so far – they are all improving!)
E – Encourage only positive talk about customers. Don’t let anyone get away with badmouthing the customer. No, they’re not all saints and some of them may not even be very nice. But, they are your customers and if you choose to keep them you have a responsibility to them. Remove all signs of subliminal sabotage (those cutsy photocopied posters that poke fun at customers needs – “You want it WHEN?”) Instead, surround yourself with positive supportive messages. After all, without customers there is no business.
R – Reality checks. Do employee surveys. Since service is a performing art, discover what your performers think. Are they supported in doing a great job? Keep the lines of communication open. Your customers get what your employee feel – so make sure that everyone is feeling good about their experience with you.
Y– Your customers can “come alive” even for those who never interact with them. Invite your customers over, or go and visit them. Publish customer stories and problem solving successes as well as employee stories in the company newsletter. Post letters, testimonials, video of focus groups, and yes, even complaints and how they were handled. Require people at all levels of the company to go out on service calls. Make the customers real for everyone (especially the people on the inside!)
O – On-going feedback from customers can come from comment cards, invoices, packing slips, websites or your catalog. Give customers plenty of opportunities to compliment, comment or complain. “Incentivize” employees for submitting ideas and capturing off hand customer comments. If a customer begins a sentence with “I wish..” “If only..” “I’m interested..” make sure you are capturing the precious info that will follow.
N – New phrase – “How will this affect the customer?” Make sure every report and proposal submitted to management begins with an analysis of the direct impact of proposed changes on the customer. Now there’s a new thought.
E – Everyone should know the lifetime potential value of a customer and what it costs the company to lose one. Make sure they do.
W – When a customer has a good experience it used to be that they would tell 3 – 5 people, but when they had a bad one they would tell 8 -10 people. We all know that this is no longer true. Some estimates of how many they will tell on the web number well into the thousands. Start creating more good experiences so everyone wins. Learn how to deal with the bad ones and turn them to your advantage. Positive word of mouth is worth millions!
I – Insist that people keep their promises. Follow-up, follow-up follow-up. Underpromise and overdeliver.
N – Never give up. Become obsessed with customer focused quality. Communicate it relentlessly throughout the organization.
S – Simple rule. Perception IS reality when it comes to the customer. Listen to what they are telling you, it’s their reality.
So there you have it. Some more thoughts on how to create a positive culture and customer-caring company. In times like these, it’s critical to keep the customers coming back and spreading the good word about our companies!
Until next time..
Take good care,
PS Remember – To sign up for the Customer Care Coach® Mastery program – The equivalent of a two day training program for less than I charge for an hour of my time.
My Customer Care Coach® is a self-study program. It covers ten essential topics related to providing what we call ‘Exquisite Customer Care.’ $297 gets you 10 topics, 40 lessons that will make you a more positive and more focused leader.
Buy it, print it and keep it on the shelf for when you need ideas on how to motivate and inspire your team. One of my customers did just that. Each time he had a weekly team meeting he opened it up and taught one of the 40 lessons and did the exercises. Sometimes he just opened the book he created with it and opened to a page at random. According to him – it was always just the right training for the day. Who knew?