The other day while having a conversation about customer service, I heard someone say: “In our company managers decide who should be a VIP customer.” Such a statement should raise quite a few eyebrows in any company, maybe even trigger alarms. Honestly, it makes my blood boil when I hear something like that. Managers take the right to arbitrarily decide who a VIP customer is! In 2015! (In truth, it’s not arbitrary at all. You know how it goes.)
All customers deserve the same exceptional level of service
VIP customers are loyal customers who need more attention and nurturing. But this does NOT mean that you can neglect your other customers or treat them as unimportant. You have to provide the same level of services for everyone and treat everyone as equally exceptional.
Nothing annoys me more than going somewhere for the first time and being treated like a third grade customer. I don’t fret about it though, I just don’t come back and they lose a potentially loyal customer. I have been loyal to one of our mobile network operators for more than 17 years, and they can certainly rely on me after all these years and countless different phones – when a brand impresses me, I can be an extremely loyal customer and will state so publicly. On the other hand, I am quick to share my bad experiences on Twitter as well as Facebook.
And I’m not an exception.
In a world where (disappointed or delighted) customers can immediately go online and share their experiences with all their followers and friends on different social networks, it’s risky to label some customers as important and others as unimportant and treat them accordingly. The number of people that know about the bad experience of the disappointed customer is rising fast. In 2011 they shared it with 16 people on average, this number increased to 24 in 2012 (source), and today only a word of our friend, acquaintance or anyone from our social network is worth anything. Still, your customer service shouldn’t be focusing what people publish and where, just try to offer a great experience to your customers. This may or may not result in recommendations, but you can be confident that you’ve done your job to the best of your ability.Don’t label your customers as unimportant. This is the fastest way of losing them. Click To Tweet
You have to go away to see what it’s like at home
Igor and Miha spent the last 10 or so days in the USA, attending a HubSpot Inbound 2015 conference, and they have been reporting a lot of things. This also includes stories about the extreme niceness and helpfulness of waiters and hotel staff. This has greatly impressed them, but what I’m more interested is is transferring that level of customer care to our neck of the woods – to all areas, not only tourism. To guarantee this, every company must answer two questions:
- How to create a customer-focused company?
- How to determine what’s really important to the customer?
If the company wants to focus on customers as the center of their business, every employee (not only employees in direct contact with customers) must think about the customers’ interests and how to realize them.Companies must put the customer in the center of their business. Click To Tweet
What really matters to customers? The key to your customers’ hearts lies in three principles. If you follow them, you can quickly gain the most loyal ambassadors of your brand:
- A personal note.The definition of a personal note is “anything that makes something more personal”. This makes your customer feel valuable. It could be something simple like knowing their name or sending them a birthday card. It’s important to let your customer know that they are not only one of many. We all like feeling unique.
- Reciprocity. People have a mechanism that makes us value fair trades. You give me something, and I’ll give something in return. It’s no different in customer relations – if you offer them an exceptional experience, you get loyal customers in return (as well as encouraging posts on social networks and …). An employee of Rackspace heard that one of their subscribers was complaining about being hungry during a long conference call. She put their call on wait for a minute, ordered a pizza for them and told them to answer their door after half an hour, because their pizza arrived. I’m sure you can all imagine the excitement it caused and how delighted their client and the greater public were. That case has spread like fire over social networks.
- VIP treatment for customers. Everyone wants to be unique and important. If a certain brand can make us feel special, we will keep returning to it.
A personal relationship with the customer is built every time we decide something is in the best interest of the customer and then learn something based on the outcome. This is how we acquire loyal customers, increase revenue and improve our customer service. It is even more important that companies adapt their business to the decisions that influence their customers. The customers are in the center of their business and everything else is derived from that. Such companies understand that customer service is a great profit generator instead of being an additional expense, so they try to make every customer feel important. In such companies managers don’t get to decide who an important customer is. Not only that; they don’t even think about trying something like that.