(This article was originally published in the Sunday Star Times and on stuff.co.nz on December 11, 2016.)
I used to believe that to stand out customer experience wise you had to really blow your customers away.
This is still true, but businesses do not have to be as amazing as I historically thought. I now follow the “plus 2 per cent rule”. This means if you can exceed what your customer expects by 2 per cent, then it is likely you will have a customer for life and a raving fan who will refer you by strong word of mouth ie. new business.
We often just keep doing things because we have always done them that way.
This can be true of internal things, such as systems, and also how we deal with our customers. I am sure that your team is very capable of generating great ideas internally on what customers would like, but when was the last time you truly asked your customers what they actually wanted that they are not getting today?
Or, where can you improve so they enjoy their relationship with you even more? It is a proven business principle that if you developed your product and services just at the whim of what customers wanted, most businesses would go out of business.
So when you listen to customers, you need to carefully prioritise the myriad of ideas and improvements they share and consider them economically of course.
That said, customers are willing to give you free ideas on how to improve and stand out more in the market place. And when you listen to customers, or at least acknowledge their ideas, they love it, further building the chance of you having a life long customer relationship with them.
This will help you to meet the “plus 2 per cent rule” as most customers will not be expecting the great idea that one of your customers had. The majority of customers will be positively impressed with your business by the implementation of a little new idea or slight tweak to how you have done it in the past.
One of the simplest ways to exceed your customers expectation is to deliver upon your word just that little bit earlier than you promised (and of course, worse case, just deliver on time).
No matter what you sell, unless customers can trust you they will not want to buy from you.
The easiest way to build trust is to do what you say you will do. And to gain that “extra 2 per cent trust”, deliver what you promised just that little bit earlier – you will blow them away. One related hint here is what percentage of the time do you actually deliver on what you promise to your customers? It’s an interesting key performance indicator if you were to measure it, and it might surprise you.
I was recently on an Air New Zealand flight trans-Tasman. Like most kiwis I really enjoy Air New Zealand. It is a great example of a company that is customer experience led. Just after take off, I went to read the Kia Ora magazine and could not find one. I asked the helpful cabin crew for a magazine – they said they would go and find me one.
Two of them came back on separate occasions over the next 30 minutes to say “Sorry Mr de Silva, there were no Kia Ora magazines loaded on the plane. We do not have so many of them now on trans-Tasman flights, if any…”
I thought with the airline having a great digital app offering, perhaps I could read it on the screen in front of me. No joy there either. This is not a gripe at Air New Zealand, it does a fantastic job in general and I am a raving fan.
Sometimes however, minimum standards in a business, which you think are ingrained as the business owner or manager are not actually happening, or, it is an example of a minimum standard customers come to expect as part of an overall experience no longer being met.
I call it the “minus 2 per cent rule” of customer experience, which is what basic expectations do your customers have that are not being met consistently.
These are the things that could make your customers think about trying competitors or sharing such happenings as stories with their friends and family – the basic (and obvious) minimum standards that are no longer happening 100 per cent of the time due to lack of training, lack of systems, lack of knowledge, lack of care et al…
So if you can consider both the “minus 2 per cent rule” and the “plus 2 per cent rule” of customer experience, you will likely be able to identify many ways of giving both a more consistent and more enjoyable customer experience. All extremely positive for your business.
Zac de Silva is an award winning business coach who owns www.businesschanging.com as well as being the co-founder of the Nurture Change Business Retreat in Fiji. If you like the questions that Zac poses, check out www.accme.co which will get you thinking on how to run a better business.