Years ago, when I was working in the food-service industry, a customer came up to my counter to order something. It was clear that the customer was not having a good day, so I pried a little. While I didn’t get any details, I gathered that I was correct in thinking that the customer was in a crummy way. So, I offered a simple gesture: a free drink.
Years later, I ran into that customer. This person recognized me and brought up that day I’d given him a free drink in hopes it would cheer him up a bit, or at least take the edge off his day and help with whatever it was he was going through. He went on about what a nice gesture it was, how he still remembered it, and how appreciative he was.
I’m not tooting my horn (at least I’m not ONLY tooting my horn), but it goes to show the power of customer experience. Every (successful) company has its own unique perspective on customer service that differentiates it from its competitors.
One thing we can all agree on, however, is going above and beyond and setting the bar high regarding customers service will put a company ahead of the others.
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Think of Amazon, Zappos, Trader Joe’s, REI’s return policy, or the Ritz-Carlton experience among others. It may be true that your local coffee shop or retail store may not have a dedicated call center or millions in revenue to return products on demand, but they do have a very one-on-one customer experience. You may even be a regular, they know you by name (yes! Cheers, I love that show), know about your job, your family, and so on. That’s just as important as the behemoths mentioned earlier.
If you go to a restaurant, for example, and they have amazing food but crummy customer service, would you return? What if the food is okay, but their customer experience is off-the-charts? Then would you return?
WebPunch has a nice habit of spoiling our clients. We like to keep up with special times in the lives of the people we work with like job promotions, birthdays, births in the family, and so on. It’s not to keep our bottom line happy, but to keep the people we work with happy and smiling. Same goes for larger companies like Amazon. We treat our customers well because it’s what we want to do; everything’s not just about business and money, it’s about treating each other with respect and celebrating with them—that translates into customer experience.
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Since I've entered into the glorious career of Online Reputation Management, this topic has become more than just giving out a free hot chocolate. Instead it's a philosophy. It's a way of life. It's an ongoing practice, one that is constantly evolving and changing as the needs of customers change and new technologies are developed (more on that in Let's Get Personal: Taking Your Social Strategy to the Next Level).
Dig deep when defining that customer experience. It's easy to get caught up in cliché wording like "quality" or "to serve others," for example and tired mission statements. But what's it really about? Is it returning purchases at a customer's request? Is it having a team or representatives ready 24/7? Is it timeliness and employees who go above and beyond? Is it remembering the little things in your customers' lives?
Whatever it is, do it with passion, authenticity, and for each other.
Matthew Van Deventer is a content creator for WebPunch. As a dealer of words he dabbles in journalism and loves a good story, whatever the medium. Matthew lives outside of Denver, CO with his wife, daughter, and pup, Chewy.