Are customers saying they love you? At yelp, epinions, Twitter, and hundreds of websites every day, customers who are treated well are not bashful about telling others how they feel. These are some comments I collected when I was researching my book:
- “I’m in love with The Container Store. I go out of my way to find a reason to go there.” (yelp.com)
- “Umpqua Bank: They even love my dog there! I wouldn’t trust my money with anyone else.” (yahoolocal.com)
- “In a way, doing business with CD Baby feels like hanging out with your best buddy. They just make you feel all warm and fuzzy.” (epinions.com)
- “I drive out of my way for Chick-Fil-A.” (rateitall.com)
- “Oh, Apple, how I love you. You snuck me into your Genius Bar despite being booked ‘till the morrow.” (yelp.com)
- “You might think that I’m kind of a funny creature, but I’m here to tell you that Customink rocks my world!” (technorati.com)
- “I Love Netflix. They had a shipping problem on Monday. They didn’t make excuses or try to slide by. They fessed up.” (consumerist.com)
“Beloved” companies earn the right to their customers’ stories – by making five decisions that drive devoted customers and business growth.
- They decide to BELIEVE. They believe their customers, and they believe their employees. And they practice this by first suspending cynicism.Beloved company Griffin Hospital wanted no secrets between themselves and their customers. The traditional approach of delivering only select information was putting the customer out of power and the medical professional in power. To balance this lopsided relationship, Griffin made medical records available to patients and their families. Trusting patients with their own records grew patients’ belief in Griffin Hospital and contributed to its growth.
- They decide with CLARITY of purpose. In decision making, they align to a clear purpose, a clear promise to improve their customers’ lives.Most guarantees put the monkey on the customer’s back to manage a countdown clock on product happiness. That’s because most guarantees have a limit on the amount of time customers have to return a product after its purchase, forcing a transaction-based relationship with customers. Beloved company Zane’s, who sells $13 million in bicycles and supplies from a single store, decided to instead guarantee the happiness of the customer relationship by throwing out the clock. The Zane’s guarantee says, “We are going to live up to our promises, no matter what the timing, no matter what the product or service.”
- They decide to BE REAL by dropping the corporate veneer and connecting in a personal way. They encourage their people to bring the best version of themselves to work.Beloved company Trader Joe’s wants to be your neighborhood store – a place where people feel welcomed and want to have a personal relationship. That’s why they resisted the decision to install scanners as part of its checkout process for years. Why? Usually a “pinging” noise sounds as each item is scanned, and they didn’t want that noise to interrupt the conversations at check-out. They didn’t want technology to limit personal connections. Only when their growing inventory pushed them to concede, they didn’t scan until they were absolutely sure that the “ping” from the scanner wouldn’t interrupt the flow of conversation between cashier and customer.
- They decide to BE THERE, beginning with their customers’ point of view when they develop and deliver products and services.Beloved retailer Zara wants to get a product from idea to market in less than three weeks. This efficient process for bringing in new product is compelling for customers who constantly visit Zara stores. “Fast Fashion” is Zara’s pull: it means having an agility for listening and responding to customer requests in the marketplace. An item requested by enough customers can be in its stores to accommodate that request within ten days.
- They decide to SAY SORRY. When things go wrong, they are humble, contrite, and they right the wrong.Beloved company Netflix, the DVD-by-mail service with 10 million subscribers, experienced a severe technology glitch a few years ago that delayed shipping. Netflix confessed immediately and honestly on their website. They followed up with emails to make sure all customers heard the news – even those who hadn’t noticed the delay. Not only did they ’fess up, they extended an olive branch by applying a credit on customers’ next billing. New members got their free trials extended.
You can earn your customers’ business and become a Beloved company by deciding how you will run yours. The decision is yours.
Jeanne Bliss helps corporations connect their efforts to yield improved customer growth. She is the author of I Love You More Than My Dog. To download the first chapter of that book free, visit customerbliss.com