fm Startup Professionals.com 06 Feb 16 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
Customer Delight. Having the best solution is a good start these days, but a solution alone is no longer enough to keep customer attention and loyalty. They expect to be surprised and delighted – as well – by their pre-purchase experience & post-purchase inter-actions. The most memorable businesses, like Starbucks & Apple, no longer sell products, they sell ‘experiences’ with a product at the center.
The Challenge is to transform and hardwire your entire team to think in these terms, rather than the default focus on distinct towers of product quality, closing the sale, or fixing a complaint. I just finished a new book, “Driven to Delight,” by Joseph A. Michelli, with inspiring stories on how one well-known company, Mercedes-Benz, made the transition and is profiting as a result.
It’s a tough Transformation for an existing business, requiring a strong leader and lots of effort. For new entrepreneurs and startups, I recommend an initial focus on these six steps from the very beginning to set the right culture and save the tremendous cost of a transformation & risky competitive catch-up later:
1. Start with an over-riding “top-down” focus on the Customer Experience. The right message must be delivered from the top, by your words & deeds. Start with feedback from real customers, set measurable objectives, then make sure rewards & incentives are tempered by customer experiences – rather than only internal thresholds.
2. Find the best of the best Business Models, then “aim” even higher. Look inside & outside your industry for role models, then apply some innovative thinking to put you ahead of the game tomorrow. Your competition is global, so today’s customers are demanding world-class service. Set the expectation for continuous improvement.
3. Make sure your Team understands the ‘why’ & the ‘how’ will follow. Since customer experience is not a fixed process, it’s most important to get buy-in on the ‘why’ first. The ‘how’ will follow as your team defines how their processes interact with those of others. Your objective should be for everyone to look for opportunities and to say ‘yes’ rather than ‘no’.
4. Tie your Customer’s experience to all compensation & recognition. Customer-driven compensation is now the norm in most industries, not just consumer-oriented ones. You see the exceptions being ridiculed daily in online media – employees getting bonuses despite customer pain & bailouts. Strive for customer visibility on the positive side.
5. Practice is better than Training on in learning how to ‘please’ Customers. Give your front-line people your Mission & Vision, then allow them the freedom to practice delighting customers. Teaching & providing training manuals won’t do it. Ask key team members to train customers, then share their experience with the Team.
6. Collect & publish compelling stories of Customer Delight. Real stories are inspiring and more powerful than any executive or marketing messages – both for Team members & potential new Customers. Stories illustrate concepts and evoke emotions in a way that even the best facts & figures can’t. They highlight the impact of ‘yes’ to all.
7. It’s a new Culture of providing great customer experiences. It doesn’t happen by chance, and it requires more than just excellent operational procedures. Surprising and delighting customers as the new norm requires a backdrop of strong leadership, deliberate planning, and integrity in execution. It requires brand-building at its best.
8. Customer Delight pays off. According to a recent American Express survey, more than 3 out of 4 customers say they have spent more with a company – and recommended it to friends – because of a history of positive experiences. If you surveyed your customers today, what percent of your customers would put you in the winning category? How about working at it, to get much more?
Comments: Do you have any ideas on how to Delight your Customers.