Thoughts on Customer Service with Shep Hyken – Part 2

shephykenIn Part 1 of customer service expert Shep Hyken‘s session summary, we explored his recommendations on dealing with unhappy customers. Today we’ll take a closer look at Shep’s top strategies on how to make Moments of Magic – those special moments that turn happy customers into evangelists of your business.

1. Manage the First Impression

The cliche is true: first impressions matter. What does your website homepage look like? Is it cluttered with flashing graphics and text or is or neat and organized? When you meet potential clients in person how do you dress? Do you project confidence?

2. Demonstrate Knowledge and Expertise (at what you do)

Show your customers and peers that you know what you’re talking about. Think about that one friend you have who knows everything about computers. You probably have one who knows a lot about money and finances.

Providing content = demonstrating value

For your website, this might take shape in the way of an articles page or a helpful blog. When people start asking you about things you might not know, this is a WIN. Knowing where to find answers and who to ask is sometimes just as good as knowing everything.

3. Build Rapport

What do people like to talk about? Themselves! In every interaction with customers, try and let them talk about what interests them – whether it’s their kids, their spouse, or their business. If you can remember these details in your next conversation, you will demonstrate that your customer isn’t just another number and they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

4. Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is contagious. Be excited about your product in all interactions! Others will see that you take your business seriously and will be more likely to do the same.

5. Communication

Manage expectations by asking the extra questions and proactively avoiding misunderstandings. Miscommunications often tend to pop up around deadlines (shipping, deliverables) – so make sure you head them off at the pass!

6. No Mistakes / Knowing How to Handle Mistakes

The goal is obviously not to make mistakes, but they’re going to happen and when they do,  handle them well. If you restore confidence after a mistake, you create a Moment of Magic. This is accomplished in three ways: 1) fixing what needs to be fixed, 2) having the right attitude (ownership) and being accountable, and 3) fixing it with urgency/speed. Educate your customers to know you’ll make their issue your NUMBER ONE priority!

7. Underpromise & Overdeliver

Set an expectation that your customer agrees to, then exceed it. For example, if your customer places an order, promise them that it will ship within seven business days, then get it there in three.

8. Consistency

Customers should always be able to expect at least a certain level of of service from you, and hopefully it’s high. Sometimes you’ll do better and blow them away, but they should always be able to count on you to be this good.

9. Show Appreciation

Say thank you over and over and over. Not just in an email – pick up the phone. Send a postcard! Make the effort to show you care and this will differentiate you from the pack.

Make Them Love You… or Hate You

angry-babyLet’s face it, not everyone can love you. I am one of those personality types that tries to please everyone, so it usually bothers me if someone has a bone to pick with me or my ideas. However, I’ve gradually learned that detractors can be as valuable as fans.

If you are doing something truly great, unique, or exciting in your small business – there are bound to be people who will have a problem with it. When someone takes a shot at you or your brand in a public/online space, you quickly learn who your evangelists are as they jump to your defense.

Consider this: whether they love you or hate you, they’re talking about you. So why play it safe and shoot for the middle?

There’s nothing that convinces the undecided like passionate supporters, and these fans are key to spreading your message.

I recently heard a story about the owner of a small pizza parlor long ago. This owner, let’s call him Hank, had a very small budget compared with the large Pizza Huts and Dominos of his neighbourhood.

This happened years ago, when businesses still advertised in phone books. The big chains, of course, could afford huge, full page ads which Hank could not compete with. He decided instead to run a small promotion of his own: for every competitors’ ad that customers ripped out of the phone book and brought to his store, Hank would give away an order of wings.

The customers came swarming, and Hank quickly saw that the cost of the wing giveaway was more than absorbed by the increased spike in business. His competitors understandably hated what he was doing: complaining, cajoling and even leaving him threats. However, his customers understood a great offer when they saw one, spread the word, and Hank’s business boomed because of his somewhat controversial move.

So the takeaway is this: don’t be afraid to polarize people. Ask yourself how you can stick your thumb in your competitors’ eye. Chances are, it will make your customers love you even more.

What moves could you make in your business that might tick off a few competitors?

For more, one of Apple’s original marketers, Guy Kawasaki wrote an excellent post on innovation.