February 1, 2012

Customer Service Must Be Fresh, Never Frozen

By Patrick Mahan

The only thing better than +Culver's signature ButterBurgers and Frozen Custard is their customer service. And good service is hard to get these days.

We always notice when service is bad, but rarely notice - or recognize - good service.

It's kind of like a referee in a basketball game. He can make 100 good calls and no one notices he's on the court. Or he can make one bad call and have 25,000 angry fans calling for his head!

Why is that? Is it just our human nature to look for the bad and overlook the good?

Or is it because most companies these days set low standards, believing that "good enough" is good enough when it comes to customer service?

Consumers today have higher standards than ever before. And business owners better be up for the challenge.

It's time to move beyond customer service and even beyond customer satisfaction.

Merely satisfying a customer doesn't mean they'll ever come back. To keep customers coming back, you have to be remarkable. Remember, it's not what you do... it's what you do differently that matters most.

You have to engineer and deliver a magical experience that customers actually notice. An experience that creates loyal customers. An experience that inspires the 3 things you want most.

What are those 3 things?

1. Repeat business
2. Testimonials
3. Recommendations to their friends, family and followers

Loyal customers will do the three things above. Satisfied customers will not. At least not to the extent you need to grow your business.

Best-selling author and master sales trainer, +Jeffrey Gitomer, explains the critical difference between loyalty and satisfaction. He says, "Would you rather your spouse be satisfied or loyal?

Think about that the next time you boast "Satisfaction Guaranteed."

Now back to +Culver's...

What did this fast food, burger joint do to catch my attention?

Nothing revolutionary. No song and dance or balloons and fireworks when you walk in the door. But there is definitely an energy. A "spirit of service" that you can feel everytime you walk in the building.

The employees are young and energetic (it looked like a high school club running a concession stand). But they were all very well trained and enthusiastic. They smile. They walk fast. They don't drag around. They deliver the food to your table and always ask the one question you should be asking your customers... "What else can I do for you?"

The kid who delivered the take-out food to the cars outside actually ran!

I overheard a customer seated at the table beside me ask for some ketchup. The young employee literally ran to get the ketchup and was back even before the lady unwrapped her burger!

There is a great dynamic there. You can see the employees working together as a team, helping each other, and having fun!

When is the last time your employees had fun at work? Or maybe employees aren't supposed to have fun at work? If this is the culture you're creating, then don't be surprised when this attitude starts to infect your customers.

At Culver's, the employees seem happy. And happy employees lead to happy customers.

The owners and managers have created an incredible culture at this place. What kind of culture are you creating? Are you more focused on creating profits or experiences?

Profits don't last. Experiences do. And experiences are what creates the loyalty you need to survive and thrive in today's ultra competitive economy.

One last thing... there is a big, golden bell that hangs on the wall by the door with a sign that reads: "Ring the Bell for Great Service!"

At Culver's... that bell rings a lot.

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