By Micah Solomon, keynote speaker, customer service speaker, customer service consultant, and #1 bestselling author of “Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization.” Visit with Micah at http://customerserviceguru.com
Before an organization can even think about delighting customers, it needs to be able to consistently deliver what it takes in order to satisfy customers.
I’m glad therefore to offer this refresher on the four-step framework (the fourth step is for when things fall apart), that can lead with reasonable predictability to satisfied customers. These four elements of customer satisfaction are important to have in your repertoire. (If you have already read Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization you likely recall this framework, laid out by Leonardo Inghilleri and myself, but it bears frequent repeating in most organizations. )
Customers are satisfied whenever they consistently receive:
1. A perfect product
2. Delivered by a caring, friendly person
3. In a timely fashion
. . . with (because any of those three elements may misfire)
4. The support of an effective problem resolution process.
(Now, I don’t want you to get too hung up on either of those first terms in item 1. We’re all told since an early age that “nobody’s perfect.” If you’re from a religious family, you might have heard that “nobody’s perfect except for God.” If you’re from a secular family, you might have heard (until recently) “Nobody’s perfect except for… Toyota.” The fact is, of course, nothing and nobody is perfect. “Perfect” here means designed and tested to perform perfectly within reasonably foreseeable circumstances. As far as product, nearly nothing is a pure product any more. Almost everything is a mix of product and service (Steve Jobs’ Apple has been an amazing example of understanding this. The products such as Westin’s “Heavenly Bed” that underpin “service” industries such as Hospitality are other great examples.)
I will tackle all four of the elements in the course of this blog, but it is imperative that you have the framework in your arsenal to start out with.
What does the resulting, satisfied customer look like? She thinks your business offers a reasonable solution that it delivers well. If asked, she’ll say nice things about you. But although she may have some warm feelings for your business, she’s not yet an advocate for your brand, and, unlike a truly loyal customer, she can still be wooed away. A merely satisfied customer is still a free agent, exploring the marketplace.
She still has a wandering eye.
Nonetheless, simple customer satisfaction is one of the underpinnings of the exceptional relationship we call true customer loyalty. It is the place we are obliged to start.