Are customers’ expectations higher today than they were 10 years ago? What about five years ago? What about two years ago? I’m sure you would agree that customers’ expectations have risen exponentially over the past years with the growth of information gathering, smartphones, and savvy consumers. This is the age of customer capitalism. Today, the power has shifted from the seller to the buyer. It’s a buyer’s world now, and each buyer has a voice and an ability to communicate with each other through social media. The customer is now in command. The shift goes beyond the firm paying more attention to customer service. Everyone in the firm must be oriented on providing more value to customers sooner.
People expect quality products and service. We’ve been asked by a lot of people how we’ve grown so quickly, and the answer is actually really simple: We’ve aligned the entire organization around one mission — to provide the best customer service possible. Internally, we call this our wow philosophy. Customer service is now a department — it’s a state of mind. It’s a personal responsibility of not only customer service representatives (CSRs), but of everyone in the organization. From the top down, even if you never speak to a customer, you need to treat everyone, including your vendors, creditors, suppliers, and so on, with sincerity and respect. Every time a customer comes into contact with your business, whether in person, on the phone, or on your website, it’s a moment of truth. Your reputation is about to get either better or worse.
WHO’S IN CHARGE?
The customer always rules, and there are rules for turning customers into advocates and emissaries for your business. This isn’t just some feel-good platitude. Your customers are your single source of revenue and profit; without them, your company would go out of business, and you’d be without a job. Serving your customers serves your bottom line. If you provide excellent service in a world where excellence is rare, the chances of being noticed by the right person skyrocket.
When I think of exceptional customer service, I think of companies like Publix, Disney World, Zappo’s, Southwest Airlines, and Chick-fil-a. Rarely do I think of (fill in the blank) heating and air conditioning, and rarely can I quote an exceptional service experience from a contractor I’ve encountered. Why is that? What’s the difference from Publix selling groceries and me selling HVAC repairs and/or replacements? They provide nutrition for the body, and I provide comfort and affordability clients’ homes. To compound this analogy, customers have many choices to choose from. The internet amalgamates choices, social media influences them, and loyalty no longer seems to exist. So, how do we excel and beat the competition?
It’s simple. We need to wow our customers. We need to provide them with an outstanding experience with our organization from start to finish, from the incoming call to the CSR to the dispatched technician to our follow-up and accounting. This will help you morph customers into clients. This turns your company into a business that generates raving fans through reviews and loyalty for years to come. We need to look outside our windows and step outside our boxes. We need to open our eyes and learn from other industries and companies that are building loyalty and crazed fans through a wow experience. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we simply must change our company culture to match that of a successful party from the inside out.
This type of culture paradigm shift must buzz a strong commitment to service throughout the whole company, from your mission statement to your values to your credo to your life. You must hire and fire based off your mission and vision statements. Your mission isn’t just a nice saying that stands behind a frame of glass for visitors to view, it’s a living and breathing way of life that every employee must believe in and emulate. I would encourage you to poll some random employees inquiring of them to share their favorite parts of the company’s mission and vision statement. After you realize it’s simply a piece of paper or a pretty poster on the wall, and no one understands the rhetoric, it’s time to facilitate a companywide strategic meeting to develop your mission and your vision. Build by the company and live by the people.
In order to be the Zappo’s of HVAC, it takes more than a desire and a cool poster on the wall; it takes a culture change that develops through training your teams to produce wow experiences for your customers, creating clients for life.
Publication date: 10/17/2016