Convert Your Customers to Fans
How do you compete in today’s marketplace where selection and price have become amorphous? The answer is simple. Compete on customer service. You can, because so many other companies are still lousy at it.
Don’t believe me? Go compare your competition’s policies, hours, procedures, tools, even their tone of voice. Do they say to customers “you must do this” in order to qualify for care? Do they give customers multiple ways to solve a problem? Do they make it easy? Do they make it fun? My bet is there is opportunity for improvement.
My advice is that you strive to create Raving Fans, every day. Here’s how.
1. Fund customer service from marketing.
Since Raving Fan creation is your prime goal, treat any related expense as a marketing investment. Spend X; get Y, with a profit of Z. We know this. With customer care, here’s how this thinking works: Spend X (some amount of extra care), get Y (turning them into a repeat customer and Raving Fan who will evangelize for you), with a profit of Z (higher number of repeat sales, more referrals, and a healthier 12-month file).
2. Keep customer service onshore.
Your goal in customer interactions is to create Raving Fans. What kind of investment is it when customers get frustrated due to cultural and language differences? Offshoring will reduce – not enhance – that opportunity. In the end, it’s not cheaper. So don’t go offshore. You’ll be sorry. And so will your customers.
3. Invest in the new tools.
Don’t wait for a new customer service tool to “prove itself” before you adopt it. Get ahead of the curve, and take a serious look at everything that comes along: Live chat, video chat, ratings and reviews, user-generated content, CEO-email response, Facebook monitoring, Tweets. Every shiny new object deserves your consideration, as a way to differentiate.
4. Measure the impact.
Measurement can be by statistic, like conversion rate. Or it can be by customer feedback, like usage rates. No matter how you measure – do it. Don’t make investment decisions by the seat of your pants. You’ll be wrong some of the time; but worse, without metrics, you’ll miss opportunities to expand on something you didn’t know was working.
5. Hire the best.
Here’s a golden rule on hiring: Always replace a departing service person with someone who’s at least two levels better. Not someone who’s “just as good.” That way you’ll always be increasing the quality of the staff who regularly touch your customer. Why does this matter? Because these are the folks who are representing your company. Hire the very best, always hire better, and empower them. It won’t cost you any more. And it will improve your bottom line results, customer retention, and sales conversion.
Excerpted, with permission, from Raving Fan Creation, by Brad Wolansky. Wolansky is President, Consumer Direct, & CMO of Yankee Candle, a division of JardenCorporation. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.