Imagine your family touches down in a beautiful tropical paradise for a well-deserved vacation. You get to your hotel, check in, then head to your room to relax for a few hours, when you hear a knock at your door. As you open the door, you’re greeted by a hotel employee, holding bottle of wine for you and your spouse and a tray of chocolate chip cookies and two glasses of cold milk for your kids. What a pleasant surprise! Not only did you have a smooth check in process and an upgrade to a room with a beautiful view, the hotel has gone above and beyond with their unexpected gift that really WOWed your entire family. If you choose to vacation in the same place, do you think you’ll select this hotel again? More than likely. And you’ll definitely tell your friends about your experience upon your return.
While good customer service is what helps mitigate issues with customers, resolve problems quickly and keep patrons happy, amazing customer service gets customers returning to your small business again and again. And it’s only WOW customer service that instills a feeling of loyalty and compels customers to refer their friends to you.
Create the WOW
Amazing customer service (the “wow”) creates an emotional connection between you and your customers that transcends a mere transaction. Steven Covey speaks about this and creating a sense of trust between the customer and business. Customers who have a strong, positive emotional connection to your business are more inclined to become repeat customers, tell others to buy from you and forgive you if you or your employees make a mistake.
Your business becomes familiar and seen as more of a friend than a business as you establish these critical emotional attachments with customers. You’ve likely heard the amazing stories of Zappos and Neiman Marcus; these companies are legendary for how they proactively go above and beyond regular customer service to WOW their customers on a regular basis.
One of many examples of excellent customer service from Zappos is a situation when a customer representative listened to a customer who called about returning a pair of shoes due to a medical treatment. The Zappos representative didn’t just accept the shoes, but sent a bouquet of flowers and upgraded both the customer who called and her mother to lifetime of free shipping. Imagine receiving that kind of attention and service from a company. Suddenly the business feels more human, an emotional connection is formed and a seed of loyalty grows.
While a small business might not have a monetary capabilities of waiving shipping for life or sending a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers, sending a handwritten card and including a complementary product or service in the card certainly conveys the sentiment that the customer means something to your business. And don’t simply follow up with customers, wow them with your follow up so that they not only want to return, but refer your business to their friends. After all, referral business is one of the of the best kinds of business because it indicates that a customer loved your service, product or experience so much that they believe their friends will love it, as well.
Your marketing has been done and advertising dollars have been spent, so it’s truly an issue of executing on the customer experience at the highest level when delivering your service or product. That is what brings customers and referrals through your front door or to your website. Aim to wow and create a loyal friendship.
The legendary story that gets used as an outrageous showing of customer service that went well above and beyond the industry standard is of Neiman Marcus, as featured in "What Great Brands Do" by . Neiman Marcus is a luxury department store that sells fine clothing, gifts and accessories, and does not dabble in automotive goods, but when a customer in Alaska brought back tires he had purchased from a store that previously occupied Neiman Marcus’ current space, the Neiman Marcus representative took the tires back.
While this is an extreme case, it still goes to demonstrate the famous retailer’s commitment to customer service and keeping a customer—if not your own—happy. Small business owners don’t have to spend millions of dollars to wow customers, nor should they aim for their exceptional customer service to be documented in books, but by being in the right mindset and showing genuine care for customers, small businesses can create an experience that exceeds customer expectations.
Do the right thing
All it takes for great customer service is to have a desire to serve, do what is right and think about the situation from a customer’s perspective. Employees should as themselves two questions: Will this action I’m taking delight my customer? Is this how I would want to be treated in this situation?
While trying to connect on a practical, logic-driven level of customer service, it is important to consider the feelings involved in a situation. How does the customer feel in this situation? What caused him or her to reach out for help in the first place? When there is a complaint or customer feedback, it is important for your business and employees to do what they can not to solve the surface level problem, but go beyond and wow the customer in a way that fixes the problem and builds upon that solution. And if the byproduct is that customers become deliriously happy advocates for your business, then a job well done!
Ask for feedback
If your business is falling short in the WOW department, don’t be afraid to solicit feedback from customers about your product, service and customer experience. Some of the greatest, most valuable data comes directly from customers who want to make you a better business by offering their unveiled opinions and criticisms. By learning from your business’ shortcomings, you can vastly improve how you deliver and execute on a wow experience.
Referrals are one of the best, most effective leads for all small businesses, regardless of industry or business model. The customer referral is so powerful because of the credibility the referrer has with the prospect can transfer to your business causing them to buy from you. Enjoy a replay of an On Air Google Hangout with the Google Small Business Community and Infusionsoft’s very own Ramon Ray.