OTHER PAGE

Brandi

I love books! They spill out of my bookshelves and sit on my nightstands and even on my favorite chair. My favorite books though, are the ones that can be read and referenced time and time again. I'd like to share an excerpt from one such book. It's a wonderful customer service story about a world-class moving company located in Walled Lake, Michigan.
You've got just over a week before Valentine's Day. Do something nice for your customers Valentine’s Day (and every day). Spread the love, spread the joy. Here is our suggestion for a Valentine that will last throughout the year…
While Twitter and Facebook are getting most of the attention, there are some 'old fashioned' ways of relationship building and 'customer romancing' that still work very well. Phone calls, birthday and anniversary cards, and one of my favorite romance tools - the picture postcard.
These days, most people appreciate their customers, especially the customers that have stuck with them through thick and thin in this daunting economic time. While there are still some consultants that speak out against the 'myth' of loyalty, this consultant still thinks the benefits of strategically developing loyalty are vast.
Customer Care should be part of everyone’s job description. But in every organization there are those people – the customer facing people – whose primary responsibility it is to take care of the customer. It’s to them I am speaking today, so be sure to make sure that everyone in your organization has a chance to read this tip. Here are 7 things that I think every customer service person needs to know....
If you are looking to remain competitive (and who isn't?), it's more important than ever to differentiate your company from all the others. It's critical to make sure that your whole value proposition is clear and is consistently delivered in a way that delights and even surprises your customers.
The customer experience makes or breaks customer loyalty. With so many choices today, it's the quality of the experience -- how you repeatedly make your customers feel at each and every touchpoint -- that will determine whether or not they'll come back, purchase more, and refer their colleagues and friends to you.
Are your employees engaged in their work, or are they estranged from your agency's mission and their role in making it happen? Mounting evidence suggests that the more engaged employees are in what they do, the better their performance and the higher the rewards for everyone. The key is to have managers who are skilled at creating employee engagement.
Last week on my way home from a meeting with a client, I stopped into a new, conveniently located 'big box' office supply store to pick up some paper. I'd never been there before. I walked in and almost directly ahead of me were two employees chatting with each other. Since they were standing in the 'greeter' position I made the mistaken assumption that they were there to greet ME and perhaps direct me to the items I wanted....
Ask yourself some “Where is my focus?” questions just for fun. You may be amazed at what you see when you look at a different points of reference. For example, are you so focused on creating profit that you forget to create value? Are you looking so closely at what’s wrong that you forget to acknowledge what’s right?
Are your people laughing, smiling, and leaning into each other when they talk? Do they make eye contact and enthusiastically engage each other in discussion? Are they expressive, energetic? Do they eagerly participate in team meetings and events? What are YOU doing to encourage that kind of participative behavior? Do people like working there? Do people LOVE working there?
When I looked at my calendar today to leave my daily voicemail message, I realized it's almost 'April Fool's Day' and I remembered an email message I had sent a few years ago making the suggestion that we might 'reframe' the day and have some fun with it. So I looked it up, added a few more items to it and I'm republishing it with the reminder that we all need to 'lighten up' and enjoy ourselves, and our customers, a little more.
People who are happy at work perform better and so do the people that work with them. Gallup reports that 9 out of 10 people say they are more productive when they are around positive people.  We took a poll recently and asked two questions about happiness: (1) 'To what extent does 'how good you feel at work' impact your performance on the job?' and (2) 'To what extent does 'how good you feel at work' impact your productivity?' Here are the results....
Do you hunt or do you fish? Fishing for opportunities to create value may no longer be enough. Take charge of looking for ways that your company can be outstanding.
What kind of crazy airline would board a plane like a bus? An assigned seat has value, right? It gives us the security we need, knowing there actually is a seat on the plane for us. If that value (the window seat in aisle 14, for instance) doesn't exist, they must then do other things pretty well that are valuable for their customers in order to be successful.
Does your reputation for good service keep you from listening to what the customer needs and is asking for today? After all, reputations are based on past behaviors. Sitting on your laurels, rather than rising to today’s quickly moving customer challenges, can dull your competitive edge, and fast.  Want to create a sharper edge and KEEP the customers happy? Trying delivering more CARE than service. Customer CARE is Proactive. It’s based on building authentic and mutually beneficial relationships.
The holidays are coming. As I’m thinking ahead to this Thanksgiving, I’m also thinking back to holidays past and a smile crossed my face while remembering a funny occurrence a few years ago. It made me think about how often we take things for granted. Are we taking the relationships we have with good customers for granted as we perhaps struggle with building relationships with the “difficult” ones?
In another article, I shared with you my all time favorite question (You remember, don't you? It's 'How have I created value today?'). Now I want to talk a little more about asking questions since it's such an integral part of how we teach here at the Customer Care Coach®. I love questions because of how they focus our attention. Did you know that the human brain will always search for the answer to a question? It's how we are programmed. That's why it's so important to ask empowering questions.
I'm talking to lots of people these days who are cutting their budgets. That's necessary and expected in times like these. But, I'm also hearing that some are afraid to invest money (or even time) into training and motivating employees to maintain the kinds of positive attitudes that will keep them healthy and keep the remaining customers loyal. Uh-oh.
Summer is baseball season. Baseball is a game of percentages, where the smallest difference can mean a lucrative major league career or years languishing in the minor leagues. Customer service is also a 'game' of percentages that can mean the difference between agency success and failure.
Want a more positive workplace where you and your co-workers feel happy and motivated? Want to make customers happier so that their loyalty - and your profits - grow? Want to work more efficiently and effectively and improve your health?
Happiness is a choice we make—over and over again in the course of the day. It's a choice we make to listen with a sense of curiosity rather than judgment, and a choice to intervene in our habitual thought patterns that often lead us right down the rabbit hole to negativity. We can make the choice to be happy—or at least happier—in most situations by changing what we put our focus on and how we talk to ourselves.
In one of the issues of our Customer Care Coach®, I tell the story about the first time I ever broke through a wooden board with my bare hand (think martial artist doing a karate chop). It's a technique sometimes used in workshops to help people break through blocks, fears and limiting beliefs. Think about a time when you were so focused on a goal that you could see it, feel it, touch it, taste it, and hear it. Emotion fuels our dreams (as well as making for better customer experiences).
The other day I ran across some notes I’d made for an executive of a large company that I was coaching. He was working on a speech with the goal of convincing the rest of the team that the 'Customer Experience' was so critical to their business that they should be making a large investment in training everyone who touched the customer to go above and beyond, to add discretionary effort, to go the extra mile. Here are some talking points....
What would you do if you had a customer care coach? What if you had someone who would help you understand the things you and your whole team could do to create consistently rewarding and positive customer experiences? You do!
Why can Southwest do what other airlines can't? There are dozens of reasons why one company does a better job than another in delivering delightful experiences to their customers. Some of those reasons have to do with culture, with vision, with intent, with working conditions, with attitude. And with training. When companies understand how truly valuable the customer is to their overall success, they make sure to train people in such a way that they deal with them appropriately under all circumstances.
It's expensive to keep getting customers who leave because you haven't delivered and delighted. In the business to business marketplace it is estimated that it may be costing you 30 times more to get a new customer to replace one that has left. Hmm. If you keep more of your customers you could save quite a bit on money. Yes?
When a company meets some or all of our expectations we usually say we are 'satisfied.' When a company goes a few steps farther and exceeds our expectations by creating more value than we expected, we might then be 'very satisfied' or even, 'delighted.' Research shows that it is only the customers in the group above the 'satisfied' category that remain loyal over time....
Given their options, most sane human beings would choose to do business with someone who is pleasant, courteous, warm, friendly, hospitable and dare I say, fun. Yes, of course it's critical to be dependable, reliable, credible, responsive and intelligent, but given that, isn't it great to also have an experience that is enjoyable?
I believe that many businesses have been negatively focused. And, that as time goes on, more and more people are coming to the relatively common sense notion that we'd all get more done at work if we were a little bit happier about being there. Research is proving that so. Gallup reports that nine out of ten people are more productive when they are around positive people.
If you shifted your focus from creating profit to creating value, odds are that you would create more profit than you are creating now. A radical notion? Not really. Companies that create value for customers, employees and others, create above average profits for themselves. Just think about how your business might be different if you put all your energy into creating value....
We know the value of developing long term, loyal relationships with our customers. They buy more and refer more, help us develop the next generation of products and services, and they even help us keep our advertising costs in reason. But are our customers the only people we should be building long term relationships with? No. The relationship strategy applies internally and externally as well.
Like it or not the Digital world is here to stay. Customers are letting us know that, in many cases, they prefer self-service! Many are fed up with the poor service they have received in the past and now take charge of the service themselves - a trend that portends danger if we don't discover how we can understand these customers and give them what they want before our competitors do. And, then, keep them engaged and loyal. It's a tall order.
In Part 1 of this article, I began to tell you about some of the ways to deliver customer caring in this age of technology. I put forth my opinion that technology, used well, broadens our ability to get closer, stay closer and build loyalty with customers. It gives us the opportunity to build a bridge of knowledge and understanding. But, when we use it poorly it can build walls that push our customers right into the arms of our competitors.
I'd love to say that every organization out there understands what customer-focused really is, but I can't. In fact, in some ways we're further from it than we were 20 years ago. So in honor of the last 20 years of learning, I've started this list of what customer-focused really means.
In Part 1, we explored what 'Customer-focused' really means. If you missed it, I suggest you read it HERE. Part 1 covered 16 different ways you can bring the Customer (and their needs) into focus. Since you get more of what you focus on, it's a good idea to focus your attention on what makes your Customers happy and coming back (with money and friends).
There’s no doubt about it; customer loyalty is key to profitability. A mere five percent increase in your customer retention could as much as double your bottom line profits! On the flip side, it costs anywhere from 6-30 times more to get new customers than it does to keep the ones you have – that is, if they’ll stay! The key to customer loyalty? Creating consistently positive experiences time and time again. Here's how....
I was recently seated near a chronic complainer at a restaurant. Fortunately, I was able to move to an empty table far from earshot of the young man. I sat quietly at my new table and started to wonder. I was able to move myself physically from this situation – what can you do when you are faced with negativity that you can’t run away from or choose not to confront (as I did)?
The owner of a beauty salon was worried. He had a large and happy clientele who willingly paid his $30/haircut fee, but noticed an obvious decline in customers when another shop opened less than a block away. The draw? A big sign in the shop window offering $12 hair cuts. What to do? After giving it a lot of thought, he put a sign in his own window: 'We fix $12 haircuts.'
Organizations would be much nicer to work for if they gave people the freedom to fail. Places that set up safe emotional environments by building trust and respecting people simply get more from their people - more ideas, more effort more brilliance. Using one of our foundation principles (#8) at the Customer Care Coach®, I'd like to share an example of how this works in the real world....
I think that when a server in a restaurant presents the bill there should be two things on the bill - the first a percentage chart so it's easy to calculate the tip. The second, a guideline for that chart that clearly indicates the patron's happiness with the service by the amount left. We can also use this idea ourselves.
The holidays can be a time of both joy and stress. I encourage business leaders to create a regular 'practice' of creating feelings of joy that reduce stress - both for their overall well-being, and for the increased success of their businesses. I assure you that a 'practice' of gratitude and happiness can create positive changes in a person that can lead to positive changes throughout a business all year 'round. Want to get happy? Here are seven tips for developing a practice of gratitude and happiness....
My paper piles are particularly large because like most writers, I save every little thing just knowing that it will be useful. After all these years I can tell you with certainty that I will use about one third of everything I save. The thing is, I have no idea until months after collecting it all which one third will be useful! This makes for quite a bit of clutter. And then there's my email...Yikes!
This time of the year can be as hectic for insurance agencies as retailers as you prepare 1/1 renewals. Throw in the trappings and commitments of the holiday season and it's easy to see that providing customer service with a genuine smile on your face can be a challenge when you're stressed! Relax, there are a few things you can do as manager, producer, or CSR to make the season a little jollier, even if it's your busiest one.
Do you routinely encourage creativity on your team? Let them know they're safe to question the norm, suggest the unusual? Do you set aside time to work on your challenges and tap the brainpower of all your team members? Do you honor ideas?
Why do some people communicate so effortlessly, easily getting what they need and want? Why is it that some people consistently get results? Why is it that there's always one person in a company who can calm down an angry customer - and even turn the person into an advocate? What do these people have that others don't? A high level of skill in communicating.
This first tip of the new year is a reminder about delivering WHOLE experiences. Today's customer, who has dozens of places she can spend her hundreds or thousands of dollars wants the whole of the experience to be good, if not great. And if you want that customer to return to your place of business bringing money and friends, you'd better be looking at all that it takes, every step of the way to make sure the customer is always saying 'Yes' about that experience.
Investing in customer relationships is insuring your bottom line. If you can save just 5% of the customers you currently lose, you can yield from 25% to 100% increase on your bottom line. No one can afford to ignore the evidence that exists regarding customer loyalty. Stated another way: You can double your net profit by keeping 5% more of your customers!
When a company meets some or all of our expectations we usually say we are 'satisfied.' When a company goes a few steps farther and exceeds our expectations by creating more value than we expected, we might then be 'very satisfied' or even, 'delighted.' Research shows that it is only the customers in the group above the 'satisfied' category that remain loyal over time....
Want a more positive workplace where you and your co-workers feel happy and motivated? Want to make customers happier so that their loyalty -- and your profits -- grow? Want to work more efficiently and effectively and improve your health? Happiness creates resilient employees who, in turn, create resilient, thriving companies.
Judy’s entire staff is female. It can be a challenging environment at times. One thing she has noticed is that her mood, as the leader, is profoundly contagious. If she allows herself the luxury of slipping into the office in a bad mood, the day goes down hill from there. After years of running a successful design firm she’s learned a few things about making sure the office runs well, so the clients have a smooth ride. Her attitude, she’s discovered, is pivotal.
Steven Slater became a folk hero overnight when he jumped ship on his airline attendant job and career by popping open the emergency exit slide on his JetBlue plane, grabbing two beers and sliding into the spotlight as an employee who was 'mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.' Here's the customer service lesson....
Recently I came upon a sandpile next to a large hole on the beach that quickly became a learning experience for several people. I'd like to share that story and its lessons with you. Think about these lessons from the sandpile and be bold. Do what you CAN do to change things and you will get the support you need.
'There's no magic to magic,' Walt Disney once said, 'it's all in the details.' Sometimes those details are small, seemingly insignificant things, little extras that add up to a strong positive impression. I'd like to share a little something that happened to me last week.
Happy New Year! We begin 2005 with the intention of putting the abundant learnings with which we were blessed last year to good use this year. With that in mind, in this article, we'll explore some of the customer service lessons of the past year and how we can apply them in the coming year.
Love, love, love. It's still February, so I figure I can still talk about love, even if this is business. Have you considered the idea of love as a management style? (Is that just too far out for you? Read on, you may change your mind.) Do you understand the value of fostering both IQ and EQ on your team? Did you check your 'love levels' to determine how engaged you and your team are in your work?
These days many customers don't have the money to spend and so the natural tendency is to want to go out and look for new ones who do. It's a great strategy, it's necessary, but it's really only half the story. Here's what you want to know about your customers....
Jan Carlzon, who turned SAS Airlines around in one year, coined the term 'Moments of Truth.' Moments of Truth occur THOUSANDS of times a day in every business. He believed that the relationship with the customer was recreated (in 15 second increments) in every Moment of Truth. He believed the company, SAS Airlines, in fact, was 'recreated' 50 MILLION times, 15 seconds at a time, every year! He taught the people who worked with him that those 50 million Moments of Truth were the moments that would determine whether or not they succeeded or failed.
Good leaders today don't need to have all the answers, but they do need to have some darn insightful questions. I have file folders full of questions that I have collected through the years. Once, when asked me what my favorite question was, I responded that it's the one question that you should be asking yourself and every member of your team on a regular basis. Here's the question....
Employees suffer from the stress of the worry and of the extra workloads they carry. That stress affects their relationships with each other and, of course, the experience they provide to their customers. And we all know how negative experiences can erode the bottom line. The great news is, there are simple, no-cost techniques managers can implement to maintain ongoing training even as employees are behind their desks. They’re known as ‘Teachable Moments.’
How do you sell the importance of customer loyalty to executives? Easy. Talk numbers. Not the kinds they're used to seeing which are based on accounting principles, but the numbers that fuel the economics of loyalty. After all, only a small percentage increase - 5% - in the number of profitable customers you have can yield anywhere from 25% - 100% on your bottom line. There's a lot of leverage in customer love.
I hate to generalize, but I am beginning to think that service givers are suffering from a disease I call E.D.S. – Empathy Deficiency Syndrome. Some of the symptoms of this annoying disease include apathy and an amazing ability to look right at a customer and not see a thing. In this article, I'll give you some techniques to fight customer service apathy by bringing the customer to life...most are inexpensive, if not free, and will do wonders to boost service and morale.
This tip was originally written after I received a phone call from a writer who was doing an article on customer contact staff training and called to ask me what I thought created long term ROI from training and what made the training 'stick.' Hmmm, interesting questions! What emerged as I thought about it, was a useful acronym. And whether you are using an outside trainer, or doing your training internally, or even using our Customer Care Coach® training program, in order to make training 'stick,' it must be PROACTIVE.
We know trust is a key element in customer satisfaction. Is there anything CSRs can do to re-gain trust from a customer once it has been damaged or completely lost? Trust is not only an element in satisfaction, it's critical for a relationship to survive. To regain trust after it has been broken takes time, patience and deliberate action. There are five things you must focus on to build trust whether with a customer or co-worker....
In the 21st century, a customer service representative will have to be much more than a paper pusher or order taker. Marketing responsibility will be integrated throughout the organization. And soon, relationship marketing will be the norm and we will intelligently use the information we have on customers to make offers that are timely, relevant and don't disturb their privacy (as they define it).
Companies that have strong values, a sense of purpose and pride, a sense of humor and where people work together, can create an environment where people feel cared about. When people feel cared about, they in turn will create the kind of environment that breeds Customer Caring, the first step towards loyalty. Customer Service in these companies is often considered a profit center rather then a cost center since the activities done there create profit.
Do you routinely encourage absurdity? Let people know they're safe to question the norm, suggest the unusual? Do you set aside time to work on your challenges and tap the brainpower of all your team members? Do you honor ideas? If you don't, you could be developing “hardening of the categories” – and in danger of losing your competitive edge.
I hate to generalize, but I am beginning to think that service givers are suffering from a disease I call E.D.S. – Empathy Deficiency Syndrome. Some of the symptoms of this annoying disease include apathy and an amazing ability to look right at a customer and not see a thing. In this article, I'll give you some techniques to fight customer service apathy by bringing the customer to life...most are inexpensive, if not free, and will do wonders to boost service and morale.
Most customer service reps do not like to sell. However, I find that CSRs love to help, they love to be useful. If you ask them if they would feel good if they could provide their customers with more ease, more convenience, more peace of mind, or more value, they will enthusiastically respond, 'Yes!' Here are several steps you can take to create the right environment for maximum selling results....
For a moment I was angry (not to mention hungry) and then I realized what a gift I had in my hands. What a perfect way to talk about well intentioned service that goes bad - what a perfect metaphor for what happens when we promise a customer something special (thereby raising their expectation) and then don't deliver.
Some organizations exemplify a 'scarcity' model - fear-based, stingy, always looking to slash, cut or squeeze something to wring every possible cent to the bottom line. Meanwhile, the company invests nothing in the health and well-being of the people who take care of the customers.
By evaluating and improving five relationship qualities, an organization can make great strides towards good health. And, as luck would have it have, they form an acronym my clients are familiar with - TRACK. It stands for trust, respect, appreciation, communication, and kindness. When all these qualities are practiced well relationships thrive and prosper.
As Valentine's Day approaches, it's the perfect time to look at the quality of your customer communications. Do you say a lot of 'sweet nothings' that ultimately mean nothing to customers, or do you communicate in ways that build customer relationships? 'Sweet nothings' - using wishy-washy language, making insincere promises - can backfire on you, causing you to dilute the power of the customer experience, lose customers and, ultimately, profits.
The worst thing about stress is that it can accumulate and cause a good deal of damage to the body, mind, and emotions. Can we have more control over the way we deal with it? By understanding the physical responses to stress, you can get better control of your stress level. If you're not taking care of yourself, you can't care for your customers and the manifestation of your stress with negatively affect your relationships with customers.
What can you, as a business owner, do to insure that even in the most uncertain times, you maintain and even improve your profitability? Develop better relationships with your existing customers. No, not just give better customer service, but deliver experience after experience that sends a consistent message to the customers that you sincerely care about them, appreciate their business and are concerned with giving them the value they deserve, and, that you are in it for the long run.
It's hard to listen to an upset customer and not have the primal 'fight or flight' response kick in. Our bodies are hard wired to respond to the sound of an angry voice with defensiveness. Good managers make sure to deliver training on 'recovery' skills that enable CSRs to respond thoughtfully to a frustrated or upset customer.
Have you ever noticed that Thanksgiving dinner is the ultimate in service experiences? From the strategic planning of the “operation” right down to “delivery and implementation,” each step is carefully thought out with the “customers’” satisfaction being the primary goal. Here's how to apply the principles you learned in executing a successful Thanksgiving dinner to your service operations....
Put your 'customer hat' on for a moment and think about the last five to ten interactions you had with someone you buy from. How many of these encounters left you feeling like the company had made an effort to build a long-term relationship with you? Did you get the feeling that the company really cared about you and your business success?
When I can imagine all the positive benefits of working out, walking and eating a lot of vegetables, it's easier for me to do those things. When I lose sight of the 'why' of doing them, I am less motivated to go out of my way for them and more inclined to do what ever feels good in the moment. What motivates us to take good care of customers? It's the why.
You need to keep motivated and stay motivated if you are going to deal with customers. I adore this Zig Ziglar quote that says it all: “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.” So let’s start at the beginning and get a good understanding of motivation – really – and how we create it, over and over again.
I didn't sleep well last night. For moments like that, I keep a notebook next to my bed just in case some brilliant thoughts show up. So in the middle of the night I wrote down these three words: Intention, Insight and Implementation.
While taking a walk over the weekend I discovered a mermaid down the beach a bit. Some extraordinarily talented person sculpted a ten-foot mermaid lying on her side, head resting back on her arm, staring out to sea (somewhat wistfully as if she had lovely memories there.) I wonder if the mermaid-maker had any idea at all of how much joy s/he had left behind on the beach that day....
Some people don't understand what they DO want until first they articulate what they DON'T want. So while looking through some of my older customer care tips , I ran across one entitled, 'I Hate It When.' Immediately I judged it 'too negative' and then I re-read it...and found good learning here and so today I am sharing this one again in hopes that the negative slant will cause some positive thinking to result.
One of the most powerful customer service (and sales) tools is a sincere 'Thank you,' yet so often we neglect to do this. Feeling appreciated is a motivational human emotion and it's an emotion we can trigger in customers and employees alike. In this article, customer service expert JoAnna Brandi gives advice on how to most effectively thank the people important to your success.
It was late morning and I was in my hotel room getting ready to speak and then to travel on to my next engagement. It was a long flight and wanted to be able to change into my travel clothes before getting on the plane. Knowing what a hassle that can be without having the convenience of a hotel room, I called down to the front desk to ask a favor....
Psychologists studying stress in the workplace have done over 400 studies on “Resilience” and what keeps individuals in a company healthy despite adversity. Here is a summary of their findings you can use as a checklist to get through a projected business downturn or recession....
This year I had the honor and pleasure to present my newest workshop, 'Power UP Performance: Linking Employee Happiness to Customer Happiness' at the North American Conference on Customer Management. That was fun, and I love teaching it, but the real treat for me was going to the other sessions and learning from some of my idols. Here is what I learned from three presenters....
Do we know who are customers really are? Do we know why they really buy from us? Do we know what their needs and desires are? Do we know what keeps them up at night? Do we have Customer Care standards that everyone -- including the customer -- understand? Do we have a way of measuring our success in the areas that count? In this follow up article to 'Setting the Stage for Customer Care,' JoAnna provides some specifics on how to implement a strategy for outstanding customer service.
If you've had a tough day, can you act 'as if' you haven't? If you have a heavy load to carry, can you walk like a dancer? Keep reading to find out how these concepts can help you deal with the trials and tribulations of being a CSR....
Plan a celebration. October 6-10 is this year's customer service week and it's a great time to honor the two groups of people who have the power to make your business thrive: your customers and anyone who touches them. Without customers there is no business and without HAPPY customers there is no positive word of mouth marketing out there. There are some things you can do to make the week memorable and special.
We are all learning anew what it takes to do business in the world today. I do believe the basics still apply - although they may need to show up in different combinations and different ways. For instance - more than ever we need to be listening to our customers...and we need to make sure that every one in the company is listening - with their ears and their eyes.
Maslow's 'Hierarchy of Needs' gives us an excellent framework for identifying customer value needs. I think of them as the 7 'R's,' the 7 Root Customer Needs. Perhaps they can help you further understand how customers decide to buy from you and when and where you might add value to their experience. It's a great time to be identifying how your customer is thinking, what they need and want, now, and when they can afford to buy again.
Ken Blanchard calls it creating 'Raving Fans.' Ron Zemke calls it 'Knock Your Socks Off.' Jerry Fritz calls it 'The Power to Wow' I call it 'Exquisite Customer Care.' What do you call it? The 'it' I'm talking about is the 'flavor' of service you deliver, the 'brand' of caring and consideration you dish up to your customers. Haven't defined it? Maybe it's time.
How often are you taking the pulse on your customer relationships? Could you be using the time to really understand your customer's needs and what they value? How might you find innovative ways to get involved in a dialog with your customers?
There is a difference between relationships that are 'transactional' in nature and those that are 'transformational.' The latter are those that last for a long time and create value for all the parties involved. As you might suspect, transformational relationships are a little more difficult to achieve, but the payoff is higher.
People are motivated by all kinds of things, some crazy, some understandable, and some just downright weird. For our purposes I've compiled a list (along with my good friend Bill Doerr) of the 'usual' things that motivate people in business. Use this exercise first to understand your motivators. If you have other motivators, add them to the list, then use the list to encourage the people that work with you to share what motivates them.
In all my years of teaching (almost 20), I am continually amazed by the term 'creating value.' It's what every company says it does and wants and can do better than everybody else. YET - when I talk to employees and ask them how they create value, they look at me quizzically and wonder if they are going to lose their job if they give me the wrong answer.
Wherever I go lately, I find myself talking about value. The equation. The whole thing. Not just the 'Is-it-a fair-price-for-the-quality?' value. Enduring value, the kind that builds loyalty. The more I speak, the more I study, the more I learn from working with clients, the more I am convinced that future success lies in the art of creating strong emotional ties in customer relationships - getting customers involved, engaged, and in love with what you do for them.
I really hate to generalize, but I am beginning to think that many service givers are suffering from a disease I call E.D.S. - Empathy Deficiency Syndrome. Some of the symptoms include apathy, boredom, and an amazing ability to look right at a customer and not see a thing. Does your organization suffer from E.D.S.? Can you identify a customer struggling with your system, your forms, your processes, your website, your policies?
More and more I see that companies don't tap into the real genius of their employees. They don't use their ideas and feedback for review panels, boards of advisory, 'postmortem' project feedback, or opinion polls. Some employees are afraid to express real opinions, afraid they will bruise the delicate egos of bosses. Maybe what you need is something like Apple's 'Genius Bar.'