Today, few companies create a memorable customer service experience. Most provide milk-toast service. It doesn’t impress, differentiate or add value to the customer. It’s so average that customers don’t even notice it. It’s almost as if customers are blindfolded while buying and can’t easily describe what happened in their purchase experience. If something goes wrong however, let’s say they experience discourteous service or a product that is of noticeable poor quality. Or, if they experience delays in service, discount discrepancies or pricing issues, many customers will remember and share their bad experience or complain to as many people as they can. Upset customers commonly let their emotions run wild with negative word of mouth advertising. Brain research tells us that a strong emotional response to a situation is what creates a lasting memory. Memories like these are a detriment to any company.
How do you create a positive service experience – one that is positive and memorable? That is the key to legendary service. Legendary service is rare and difficult to achieve. We believe it is on par with the examples set by athletes like: Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, Serena Williams, and Lindsey Vonn. Each one is a sports legend who has excelled time and time again in their own competitive sports providing lasting memories for their fans.
Legendary service occurs when a company, through its employees, serves the customer so well that the customers receive a powerful, positive, and emotional reaction that propels them to repeat the experience. The customers become believers in the company and are repeatedly drawn back. Their experiences and behaviors are exhibited as a sharp contrast to that of the mind numb or upset customers. The happy customers write complimentary letters, tell friends about it, share their delight with a company manager, and begin to increase their purchases at the business. Their experiences are capable of producing a loyalty that may draw the customers back to buy exclusively from this business for years and even decades.
We know from our research that if a company creates a high performance atmosphere and continually coaches and trains their employees, this level of committed service is achievable. Unfortunately, this is exactly where too many companies and managers fail. Note the characteristics of legendary service providers below. Passionate employees do the first three, and the next four come from loyal customers. All of this creates unsolicited media attention which is a capstone achievement resulting from legendary service.
Providers of Legendary Service:
- Exceed expectations– their employees love working at the company; they search for ways to delight customers with each daily service encounter.
- Achieve service levels that are better and different than the competition-happier and passionate employees provide new ideas so the company can innovate and distinguish their service from others.
- “Wow” the customer – employees routinely go the extra mile because they want to.
As a result, their customers:
- Customers become promoters– the positive emotions customers receive when engaging with the employees makes them want to spread the news.
- Customers share word of mouth advertising- people talk positively and the word spreads beyond a market and industry.
- Customers keep coming back– who wouldn’t want to buy again?
- Customers generate viral media attention– as the positive buzz spreads the media from many sources begins to report the good news. מערכת אומניצנל
In the supermarket industry, Wegmans has figured this out. Wegmans is consistently the #1 grocer in America. It’s not just grocery shopping there, it’s an event. The smell of freshly baked bread fills the air. Customers can take a cooking class to advance their culinary skills or dine at Wegmans food court while shopping there. A friend recently sent me an email lamenting a host of poor service experiences he’s had in a variety of companies. At the end he added, “Well, at least I still have Wegmans.”
As a manufacturing company, Apple is still relatively new to retail, but it certainly isn’t a rookie. They designed their stores so customer engagement is outrageously different. All of their products are accessible for demo and their employees are the “geniuses” that offer expert advice and involvement. There are no sales clerks that don’t care in an Apple store. They demonstrate their superior technology and service capability by checking customers out on the spot using their phones to collect the customers payment and send a receipt immediately to their email. This allows a nice demonstration of their technology, even while they collect your contact information without offending you at all.
In a world where more and more businesses are competing for the same customers while selling essentially the same products as their competitors, there are few places to make a distinction that allows the customers to win. We all know from personal experience that we will often pay more when we can depend on the business to take real care of us. We all tend to worship on the altar of price and technology, yet it’s most often the rare personal service we receive that captures our loyalty as customers.