There are certain things in life that you don’t want to price shop, look for discounts or take the lowest bid. Things like a heart surgeon or new brakes on your family vehicle.
The value placed on these services is extremely high and there is potential for irreversible damage. Which means in these circumstances you cannot afford to choose anything less than the best. How good of a job are you doing at creating value on the expertise and experience of your services? You need to make your Customers fear that if they choose anyone else, there will be irreversible damages. We need to educate our Customers that they cannot afford to go cheap.
We all have a company or two that we can’t fathom life without. What are the few companies that you would be extremely upset if I told you, "You can no longer do business with them, ever again?" When I ask my audiences this question, the same brands always get mentioned: Apple, Starbucks, Nordstrom, & Amazon as well as local mom and pop shops. Now the important part is, think about what they have done and what they consistently do to make you so loyal, to make you feel that you cannot live without them. That is power. That is brand loyalty. The more people you can make feel like they cannot live without your brand, the closer you are to making price irrelevant.
I have had the good fortune to experience and witness many professionals who truly know how to serve. However, there is one person in particular that consistently blows me away on how he builds rapport instantly with strangers and learns so much about other people in only a few minute conversation. This person is my thirteen-year old son, Bo DiJulius. I have been so intrigued by his ability to strike up a conversation with someone he has never met before and have him or her share so many intimate details with a teenager. So I asked Bo if he could share how he does it.
Customers crave recognition and a personalized experience. In short, technology cannot provide genuine hospitality. It cannot express empathy, make people feel good, take care of others, express emotions and vulnerability in a relatable way, or make people laugh. We have subconsciously sent the wrong message to all our employees, that it is about the technology – our website, apps, social media, virtual tour, iPads, kiosks, self-check out. So our employees have started using the technology as a crutch, thinking they have less importance, less of a role with the customer. They rely on the technology to provide the experience. We need to reverse that. Customer experience is 10% technology and you are 90%.
We have all heard the preflight safety announcements when the flight attendant says, "You must put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you." What use will you be to anyone else if you do not take care of yourself first? Think of how that applies to our life and what we need to do for ourselves before we are capable of impacting those around us.
RBF is something to be taken seriously in all of our businesses, with any of our Customer facing/interacting employees, whether it is face-to-face, ear-to-ear, or click-to-click. A smile is just as much a part of the uniform as anything else employees are required to wear: uniform, nametag, hat, and smile. Everyone should have a smile and it should be genuine. A smile shows teeth. In my companies, we have sent team members home for being "out of uniform," for not smiling. I like to tell my employees, "If you are happy, tell your face."
Leaders love to talk about revenue streams by showing graphs and charts with the breakdown of sales categories. It is important to know the percentage of sales generated by products or services and to monitor trends, especially growth and decline of your business revenue. However, there is one critical component that every business has in common, which is never discussed. 100% of your sales come from one place. Your customer! When you look at it that way, it sheds a stronger light on why companies need to put more emphasis on building an incredible consistent customer experience that becomes your number one competitive advantage and helps make price irrelevant.
The average annual global budget spent on marketing and advertising is $500 billion a year compared to $9 billion spent on customer service. The shortsighted obsession of constantly bringing new customers/traffic to your business is significantly more expensive than building an incredible customer experience. Companies spend millions creating and advertising their brands, yet the customer’s experience is what drives customer perception and loyalty.
How do you know if you received an ‘Experience’ or just a ‘Service’? How do you know if you have delivered an ‘Experience’ or just a ‘Service’? Customer Service is WHAT you do; Customer Experience is HOW you do it. Turning what was once a mundane transaction into a unique memorable moment means you have to re-evaluate everything you do, every way you interact with your Customer, regardless of the length. It could be a one-hour face-to-face meeting, a conference call, a 10 second check-in, a call transfer, or an email reply.
My entire life I have been a collector of something very rare and priceless. People compliment me on my collection all the time. I believe it is the best gauge of a person’s character. I constantly stress to my three sons and all my employees that they should collect the same thing I do. What I collect are rare people in my life. The key word is rare, for I am extremely choosy on whom I collect. I collect relationships with uncommon, loyal, unique, high moral, genuine, and most importantly POSITIVE people. If people judge me by who I surround myself with, I am a champion.
John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.