Want to keep your customers as happy and loyal as a Schnauzer pup? Then do what elite organizations do – build brilliant customer experiences by giving customers what they want, expect, and deserve.
The 7 Things Your Customers Want, Expect, and Deserve
1. Deliver on the Promise. Often there are many cooks making the customer stew (many that you can only influence, not manage), so slow down, think, explore, confirm, check, and think again before you make a commitment. As folks in the Old West movies often stated, “Your word is your bond.” Do what you said you’d do, when, where, and how it was promised. Your reliability and credibility are on the line.
2. Transparency. Nobody likes surprises, especially when addressing important issues. Neglecting to discuss a few items that the customer may not like, or allowing your lawyers to put in pages of non-customer-friendly fine print in a contract that negates what the customer thinks or what your commitment states are not best practices! Be crystal-clear about what will happen, what won’t happen, and what might happen. Act like a trusted advisor and share the whole picture–explain the bad along with the good. And, of course, don’t lie (what would your Grandmother think?). Besides, people always find out, and people never forget.
3. No Hassle. Customers should not dread the thought of attempting to get what they want from your organization, and then agonize and struggle to get it. Waiting on hold forever while a recording keeps repeating how important they are, asking them to provide information that your company should already have or that is irrelevant, and not being able to communicate with competent people all takes a toll on the customer – one they should not have to pay. Make it easy to buy, easy to access information, and easy to get service.
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4. Responsiveness. Have a need for speed. Customers want fast reactions to inquiries and timely resolution of issues. Is that too much to ask?
5. Evidence You Care. Customers are much more understanding of your situation and your feelings when they believe you understand their situation and care about their feelings. So stop, listen, and empathize with the customer before moving on to business. Evidencing you care is especially vital when you mess up and the customer knows you messed up. They want to know why things went south, what you are going to do about it, and they expect (and deserve) an apology. Man up when you mess up, and fix the customer first.
6. Fairness. Most customers have a realistic understanding of what fairness is in any situation. Most don’t expect “Wow!” experiences, nor do most try to take advantage of suppliers who they perceive are trying to act fairly. Don’t let your legal or financial people skew your practices and policies to protect against the 2% of customers who are the bad eggs. Empower your frontline personnel to do what is right.
7. Control. Customers often feel that once they sign on with a supplier, they have little choice as to what will happen and how it will happen. Resentment builds when the supplier drives the car and appears to ignore the customer sitting in the backseat. Customers want to control the suppler-customer relationship–control in how they buy, control in getting information, and control when getting service. So don’t dictate that the customer follow your agenda; always give customers choices when decisions are required.
Reality Check: When asked, the majority of supplier executives felt their customers’ experiences with their organizations were “good” to “excellent,” while their customers scored their experiences with these suppliers “okay” to “lousy.”* How about your customers?
If you are interested in joining the circle of elite organizations that routinely deliver brilliant customer experiences, get the facts and let the “Customer Experience Assessment,” below, be your overarching guide. Ask a dozen of your important customers (and/or prospects) to candidly score your performance and give examples of why they scored you as they did. I will wager you will have a few surprises.
Customer Experience Assessment
Have your customers (and/or prospects) rate you on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 representing “Never” and 10 representing “Always.”
- Deliver on the Promise
- No Hassle
- Evidence You Care
* Goodman, John A. “Customer Experience 3.0: High-Profit Strategies in the Age of Techno Service.” AMACOM. 2014.