Customers don’t make up stories about you or your business. It is you who create them. The customer simply retells them. How the story is told, and what the content is, is up to you. It’s based on your actions or reactions, combined with their interpretations and perceptions.
These stories create the basis for the most powerful form of advertising known to mankind. Word-of-mouth. It is estimated that more than 50% of American business is based on this ad form.
When people ask each other for a referral, or a business reference, it’s given based on their past, personal experience or what they “heard” from others. Other stories.
Here’s an example: “Hey Jeffrey, you fly all the time. I’m going to Dallas. What airline should I fly?” Three options will occur. You will either get…
1. A referral: American Airlines is the greatest.
2. Nothing: Well, I dunno, they’re all about the same.
3. A reverse referral: Anyone BUT American Airlines.
Here’s an example of the whisper down the lane version: “Hey Bill, I’m going to Dallas. Do you know which airline I should fly?” Three options will occur. You will either get…
1. A referral: “You know Sally, my friend Jeffrey says American Airlines is the greatest, and he flies all the time.”
2. Nothing: “Well, I dunno, they’re all about the same.”
3. A reverse referral: I’ve heard all kinds of bad stories about American Airlines. I’d say, pick anyone but them.
NOTE WELL. If the experience was good, the customer may not proactively say something, but if the experience was bad, you can bet your last dollar they’ll bring up the story in the first 5 minutes of a conversation and depending on the severity of the displeasure, sometimes in the first 5 seconds.
This lesson of customer service is the most real (and valuable) I have found. First, because it shows how one front line person can speak volumes for a multi-billion dollar company by creating an experience worth talking about. Certainly more powerful than a bunch of rhetorical ads on TV, most of which are so plastic they should be accompanied by vomit bags.
And second, it creates a classic opportunity to examine how customers can make or break a business after a transaction has taken place.
If 50% of American business is done by word of mouth advertising, what’s the word on you? The only way to “get the word out” is to create memorable situations. Excellent service is not what you believe it to be, it’s what your customer perceives it to be. And tells others.
How are you taking advantage of your service opportunities?
Here’s what happens if you do. Here are 7.5 advantages of great service…
1. It’s free. Great service costs little or nothing but it’s worth a fortune
2. It builds goodwill. Consistent service creates and builds reputation.
3. It builds customer loyalty. People will actually look forward to the next time they will do business with you. Happy to do business with you.
4. It creates memorable experiences that will be retold time after time. Stories create the basis of word-of-mouth advertising.
5. It makes your customers salespeople for your business. And they are one thousand times more effective than any employed salesperson on your team.
6. It leads to referred business. People are guided and influenced by the success, satisfaction and happiness of others.
7. It makes it harder (impossible) for competitors to steal away customers even at a lower price. “Loyalty through extraordinary service” is a powerful yet overlooked motto in business today.
7.5 It creates a clear distinction between two companies engaged in the same business. Yours and your biggest competitor.
Every time a customer calls you, or you call a customer, you have an opportunity and a choice. What opportunity are you taking? What choice are you making?
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