We all have brands or companies that come to mind when we think of premium customer service. Walt Disney World, Lexus, Amazon, maybe Trader Joe’s or your favorite local ice cream store or barber shop. Places that roll out the red-carpet treatment for everyone from Beyoncé to, well, you.
Now ask yourself, would your business make the list? Speaker and trainer Bob Pacanovsky, with decades of experience in the hospitality industry, encourages business owners to take a look at all aspects of their business as though they were prospective customers. He says that after being so involved in a business for so long, it’s natural to have blinders up when it comes to seeing the small things. But prospective and current customers see these small things. And, they now have the capability to easily take photos or videos and share their experiences with the entire world.
Take a critical eye to all areas of your business
So what are these “small” things we’re referring to? Here’s a list of just some of the parts of your business that might need a critical eye to make sure they are clean, up-to-date, fresh and presented in the best possible way.
Impact tip No. 1: signage and artwork around the building;
Impact tip No. 2: restrooms, lobbies, hallways and conference rooms;
Impact tip No. 3: parking lots and the area outside your entrances;
Impact tip No. 4: carpeting, lighting and paint/wallpaper;
Impact tip No. 5: website, social media platforms and constituent emails; and
Impact tip No. 6: your people! (We’ll talk more about this later.)
Pacanovsky offers several tips on how to check up on all these areas of your business to make sure they’re sending the message you want to send.
Impact tip No. 7: Take a walk thru of your space, looking in every room that a customer might go into with a critical eye of all aspects of the area.
Impact tip No. 8: Mystery shop your business or send a trusted friend thru the process of buying in person and sending you feedback about the experience.
Impact tip No. 9: Place an online order yourself, ensuring that every step throughout the buying process runs smoothly.
Impact tip No. 10: Try to return an item to your company. What sort of customer service experience do you have?
Impact tip No. 11: Call your business and listen to how people answer the phone and offer assistance. What is the hold music? How long is the wait time?
These areas of your business are what Pacanovsky refers to as “impact points.” They are opportunities to not just positively impact your prospective or current customer, but to give them a “black-tie” experience with your company.
Elevate your image at each impact stage
Pacanovsky identifies three stages to be aware of along the selling process where an impact can be made. Check out the following three impact stages and what can be done to provide the black-tie experience at each one:
Impact Stage 1: Prospective Customers
The first stage deals with customers you haven’t yet acquired. Here are ways he identified to turn these prospective leads into paying customers.
Impact tip No. 12: Brew coffee that makes the room smell good and place cookies out for prospective customers to enjoy with the coffee.
Impact tip No. 13: If you’re sitting with a prospective customer, place them in a position where they can see appealing artwork or photos on the walls—perhaps of the city your business is in or of work you’ve done with other clients.
Impact tip No. 14: Follow-up with a sincere phone call or email thanking them for their time and interest in your company.
Impact Stage 2: Current Customers
Now, let’s talk about the customers you have.
Impact tip No. 15: If you have commercial vehicles, make sure they are clean on the outside and inside.
Impact tip No. 16: Examine what your brand looks like on social media. Is it clean and well-represented?
Impact tip No. 17: Do you create an environment where care and trust are subtly expressed, especially in sensitive areas like the restrooms?
Impact Stage 3: Returning Customers
Finally, here’s how to keep your customers coming back for more.
Impact tip No. 18: Learn how your loyal customers take their coffee or about their other specific preferences.
Impact tip No. 19: Have your reception staff and other greeters learn the names of your frequent customers.
Impact tip No. 20: Reward your most regular customers (not just your prospective customers) with discounts, gifts of appreciation or special access to thank them for their loyalty.
It all starts (and ends) with your people
Pacanovsky points out that an underlying theme (and something we promised we’d talk more about) is a workforce that can help improve each of these impact points. It’s your people, he says, that can influence whether you have a one-and-done customer or a loyal and raving fan.
He indicates that there are several ways to involve your staff in creating a more positive customer-service experience:
Impact tip No. 21: Instead of saying “No problem,” encourage your workforce to respond with “It’s my pleasure.”
Impact tip No. 22: Create a general script for your staff to use when interacting with customers on the phone or in person. Nothing too structured so that there’s still room for conversation, but specific introduction or conclusion language that delivers your message and leaves a positive lasting impression.
Impact tip No. 23: Make sure emails from your workers to customers are consistent, error-free and on-brand. They should also contain introductory and concluding language similar to the messaging discussed above.
Impact tip No. 24: Role-play with your workforce so that you can not only see first-hand how they treat customers and the language they use, but also so that your workers can see things through your customers’ eyes. Have them help mystery shop and walk thru the space with you examining the impact points for themselves.
A good way to ensure that you have happy and positive customer-service providers working for you, is to have happy and positive employees. Treat your employees well and they will also be brand ambassadors for you—promoting your brand and letting others know how much they like working for your company.
Pacanovsky ended with a quote from Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Leave your customers with the feeling that they are appreciated, valued and respected. Leave them with that “black-tie” experience feeling.
Be sure to join us for our next COSE WebEd Series. Register today for the Feb. 21 webinar Maximize Your Marketing Spend: Spreading Your Brand Without Spreading Your Budget.