Customer service has always been important, but today, there seems to be a reawakening of its importance to small business success. As we lead out business out of a brutal economic downturn, we can see that the companies that fully embraced providing stellar customer service are the ones that are not only doing well today, but also did well during the worst parts of the recession. So says Jeanne Bliss, my guest on INDIE Business Podcast. Jeanne is the author of “I Love You More Than My Dog”: Five Decisions That Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and BadCustomer Service Books).
For a high level overview of what Jeanne told me about how to create customer love, read on, using the time stamps to find what interests you most. To go beyond listening and start applying, scroll to the bottom, click the gray arrow, turn up the volume and enjoy the full 30-minute conversation. You can also download the podcast to your favorite mobile device or via iTunes. Here are 5 things companies do to create and drive what Jeanne calls “extreme customer loyalty.”
- They suspend cynicism (12:36). Instead of building policies and procedures that manage the minority, companies with extremely loyal customers build policies that support the majority. This focus on building up the positive (instead of managing the negative) sets these companies apart.
- They have clarity of purpose (12:55). These companies anguish over their higher purpose to serve and support their customers's lives. They're not just providing a commodity. They are providing an experience. For example, one business offers you a hotel room while another business offers you a retreat.
- They are real (13:22). When you deal with these companies, you are made to feel important. There is a humanity about them at every level. Customers are treated with respect, as are employees, who are encouraged to bring the best version of themselves to work every day.
- They create moments of contact (13:40). By consistently creating reliable connections — one by one — that enhance their customers's lives, these companies actually earn the right to grow.
- They say, “I'm sorry” (14:06). These companies capitalize on their mistakes by quickly repairing any damage by apologizing in meaningful ways. Companies that do this well and consistently often create more customer loyalty than they would have created if they had made no mistake at all.
Don't miss the part starting at 15:43 where Jeanne shares a bit about how Lush Cosmetics creates extreme customer loyalty around their “fizzing bath bombs” and other handmade cosmetics. And scroll to 21:13 to enjoy case studies of specific things companies have done to deliver great customer service. (One company spent $1,500 to save $150,000 in business!)
About Jeanne Bliss
Jeanne Bliss began her career at Land's End as a customer service pioneer and went on to serve as the chief customer e served as the chief customer executive at Coldwell Banker, Allstate, Microsoft and Mazda. She is now the president of CustomerBliss, her own consulting firm where she guides companies large and create extreme customer loyalty. Visit Jeanne's website and follow her on Twitter here.
How to Listen to the Show
This post contains my paraphrases of the information Jeanne shared. To hear it from the horse's mouth yourself, listen to the entire 30-minute show using one of these options:
- Download it on iTunes. (It usually takes a day or two for iTunes to feed the show there.)
- Click on the arrow at the bottom of this post to listen now!
- Because I have not had a chance to load all of my shows to this blog, you can listen to hundreds of interviews from 2005 to 2010, each one as relevant today as it was when I recorded it, at my Indie Business Radio site.
Question: How do you create extreme customer loyalty at your small business?