By Bob Hiebeler
When it comes to building a business that lasts, reputation is everything. Being number one in your vertical is certainly nice, but to continue to grow and push your business forward, people need to know you’re incredible…and the fastest way to achieve this is by providing unparalleled customer service.
It’s one thing to tell everyone you’re the best. Any brand can do it, and many do, but what separates the companies who are simply paying lip service from those that are the real deal is the ability to back up those words with serious action. Brands that are willing to go the extra mile and put their money, often quite literally, right where their mouths are, are the brands that endure the test of time.
But why do they do this? What’s the benefit?
Give Them Something to Talk About
Think about times in your own life when you’ve had exceptional customer service; from the barista who remembers your drink every day, to the mechanic who threw in a free oil change, to the phone representative who bumped your service ticket to the top of the pile. Odds are when you’re faced with a choice on where to go for coffee, or for an oil change, or for tech support, that brand that went the extra mile is the first one that pops to mind. That’s because that exceptional customer service has created something powerful within you…a sense of loyalty.
A customer who feels special is more likely to be loyal to that company. And while there are always the occasional bad apples who will take this dedication as an excuse to exploit the company, for most people that tiny act of kindness instills within them a fierce desire to keep returning to that brand again and again.
Why? Because they know when they do, they’ll be rewarded for it.
In addition, not only do they return, but they also tell their friends and family about their excellent service. That’s evangelism, and when it comes to building a brand, it’s one of the most valuable tools you can have in your arsenal.
Of course, to make these moments happen you need employees who are willing to go that extra mile for your customers.
Power to Your People
Take a good look at your own organization. Would your employees go above and beyond? Do they want to go above and beyond? Are you giving them the freedom to make that decision? Are they motivated to make those decisions?
Empowering your employees to have the confidence to not only make promises to your customers but also deliver on them takes several key factors, starting with leading by example. Kindness and a willingness to help others starts at the top. Do your employees look to you for leadership? What reputation do you have within your own organization? Is it a reputation that encourages employees to want to go that extra mile or are they too scared of potential repercussions?
To make this work, you need to have employees that want to provide that extra service, and that are doing it for the right reasons. There’s a huge difference between a happy employee who enjoys making a customer’s experience memorable versus a disgruntled employee who feels like they’re sticking it to the company by giving away things for free.
This means making sure you have the right employees interacting with your customers from day one. You want to make sure the people you’re bringing into your organization are there for the right reasons. Employees who care about their work are the backbone of an outstanding organization and finding those employees starts from the very first interview.
You will want to work directly with HR to make sure your organization has hiring practices in place that bring people to the team who can execute brand ambassadorship intelligently and cheerfully. This may mean waiting a little longer to fill that vacancy, or working with your hiring managers to ensure that there are incentives and pay rates in place that not only bring in qualified candidates, but help keep them in those positions for the long term. Investing in the right employees is an investment in your own company and should be done thoughtfully and carefully.
Tooting Your Own Horn
Often we’re taught to be humble in our achievements, but when it comes to sharing stories from happy customers, there’s no shame in tooting your own horn a bit.
- Start by first listening to the voices around you. Collect unusual stories from any place your business interacts with customers – support centers, retail environments, social media, anywhere!
- Ask your employees for their thoughts and observations. Is there a regular they see every day? Someone who they’ve gotten to know so well they’re on a first-name-basis? Who stands out to your employees as someone who truly loves your company and why?
- Next, talk to those customers. Ask them for honest feedback and encourage them to share their above and beyond stories with you. What is it that keeps them coming back?
- Once you get these stories and testimonials, you’ll need to make sure they make their way out into the real world. Go ahead and amplify those positive messages, either through your company blog, in newsletters, through social media posts…the ways to get the messages out are limited only by your own imagination.
Of course, one of the best ways to get the word out is by partnering with an organization whose entire focus is on sharing stories. This can be done either in house by your own marketing team or by bringing in creative marketing professionals. Regardless of what path you choose, finding content creators who specialize in crafting authentic, heartfelt, funny, creative messages can help you amplify those positive experiences your customers have had with your company.
Thinking Ahead: Solving Tomorrow’s Problems Today
The nice thing about cultivating loyalty and evangelism in your customers is, it’s never too late to start. Recognizing and acting on opportunities to make your brand stand out is a core principle of anticipatory organization. It’s thinking long-term instead of short-term and being proactive rather than just reactive. Businesses and organizations that can do this are the ones that not only survive, but thrive.
Bottom line – You want your competitors, your clients, your customers, and especially your prospective customers to know you really are the best. It’s what will bring them in the door not just the first time, but time and time again…and what compels them to tell others “Hey, these guys really are the best at what they do.
Robert Hiebeler is a global consultant who regularly works with companies and business leaders worldwide about the search for, and implementation of, best practices to improve business performance. Robert is a Senior Anticipatory Organization® Consultant and Facilitator for Burrus Research and is working with CLM on “Anticipatory Organization®” strategies. Robert is also the best-selling author of the book Best Practices, Building your Business with Customer-focused Solutions and has been featured in numerous print publications.
Anticipatory Organization® is a registered trademark of Burrus Research