Taking it just a little farther makes all the difference…

I came across an interesting article by JAMIE HERZLICH on Newsday.com today that just compelled me to comment on.  The good news is that the title of the article is spot on, “Small Business: Good Customer Service is Key.”  However, I don’t think Jamie took it as far as it could be to accomplish what I think was intended to be accomplished – showing how “consistency” is the crux of providing a high-end, differentiated customer experience that leads to LOYALTY. 

Jamie starts off by saying that, “In today’s commodity-filled marketplace, oftentimes the only characteristic that differentiates one company from the next is customer service.”  Excellent point and one I completely agree with, other than the word “service” – it should be “experience.”  This was emphasized in the well known book (and the primer for what we believe in) titled, “The Experience Economy” by Pine and Gilmore.  In their book they claimed that in the new millennium (which is what we are in now), the primary thing that will distinguish companies from each other is the “experience” they provide their customers. I completely agree with this – and it is becoming more of a reality every day.

“If all you do is satisfy your customers, that’s not enough,” explains Randi Busse, president of Workforce Development Group Inc., an Amityville-based customer service coaching and training firm. “A satisfied customer is a former customer waiting to happen.”  I agree that satisfying your customers isn’t enough but not sure I quite understand her definition.  Let me offer you our definition, which I think is pretty clear to everyone.  We say, “A satisfied customer is one that is simply looking for the next best deal.”  Meaning, as long as you have the best deal around (price, delivery, terms, etc.) they will buy from you, but when a better deal comes along, they will defect and follow the “next best deal.”  The only way to prevent this from happening is to build LOYALTY with your customers.  Those are customers willing to “give you another chance” and stay with you.

The final piece I wanted to comment on was a statement made my Martha Rogers of Peppers & Rogers Group out of Connecticut.  Martha said, “Random acts of kindness are not nearly enough.”  We agree – but it should be taken a little further.  We coined a phrase in our book over 6 years ago that has stuck with many people over the years.  We said, “To create a Totally Awesome Customer Experience, you must eliminate the Random Acts of Excellence and Chaos in the relationship.”  Simply put, if you can’t create a “consistent” and “repeatable” customer experience, customers get confused and defect.  Customers want consistency and when they don’t get it they leave.

So in almost all cases of Jamie’s article, it was spot on – just didn’t quite take it far enough in my humble opinion.  My recommendation to our readers – take it all the way, don’t stop part way in developing your Totally Awesome Customer Experiences – develop “consistency,” move beyond “satisfied” to Loyal and eliminate “random acts.”  Hope this helps…

Blaine

Blaine Millet

Customer Experiences Inc.
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One Response to Taking it just a little farther makes all the difference…
  1. Randi Busse
    September 12, 2008 | 5:43 pm

    Allow me to expand on “a satisfied customer is a former customer waiting to happen”. If all you do is “satisfy” your customer, they will not remain loyal to you. Satisfaction is not enough, and at the first opportunity to jump ship (lower price, better availability, new competitor), customers will leave because they have no real reason to stay. We must “WOW” our customers, exceed their expectations, under promise and over deliver, and let them know how thankful and appreciative we are for their business.

    I’ll be happy to explore the topic further as it’s near and dear to my heart!