Whenever you make a purchase that requires service afterward, it is important to choose the right vendor or provider, correct? A car, an appliance, insurance, a furnace all require after purchase service that can cost a lot of time and money. The typical practice is to obtain at least three quotes from three different vendors to be sure to receive the lowest price. Is price the most important factor? Sometimes. Often there are other factors that can be more important depending upon the type of purchase.
According to recent research by Kustomer, a customer service CRM platform company, “79% of consumers say customer service is extremely important when deciding where to do business.” (Kustomer, 2020) Their research also confirmed, “59% of consumers are willing to pay more for a brand or provider known to have outstanding customer service.” (Kustomer, 2020) Clearly price, for some, may not be the most important factor when making an important purchase.
If you agree price is NOT the most important factor for a particular purchase, then once we have the quotes, we need other criteria. There are four major stages for creating an exceptional trusting customer experience organization. These are called stages because they build increased trust and loyalty as more stages are completed.
- First, did they meet all your expectations (promises both stated and unstated)?
- Second, did they answer all requests (questions) within reasonable expected time frame and with expected quality?
- Third, were they proactive to anticipate additional needs or desires? In other words, did you educate beyond the specific questions?
- Fourth and finally, did they provide a small, unexpected added value without being asked (a surprise)?
I recently had the opportunity to apply these stages to decide to replace our 26-year-old home furnace. The furnace had an average lifespan of 25 years. It was time to consider a replacement to avoid any sudden disruption of heat during a cold winter. I obtained three quotes. They were all very close in price. I had to use the four stages to make my final choice and, once I did, the choice was easy.
The first vendor met my expectations (Stage One – expectations met) by providing a competitive price on-time, and he answered all my questions (Stage Two – responded to my requests). The second vendor promised to respond with answers and never responded (Stage one and Stage Two were not met). He broke a promise, one of the worst things a vendor can do.
The third vendor responded on-time with a competitive price (Stage One – met). They answered all my questions (Stage Two met). They also anticipated my needs by asking key questions and made recommendations that would save me time and money over the long-term. He used his experience and expertise to educate me in factors I had not considered. He was proactive (Stage Three met and exceeded).
Finally, he made an extra effort to find his installer and was able to immediately have him come to the home. The installer was able to confirm all the correct information to ensure the installation would go well and with the highest quality. He anticipated my concerns for a worry-free installation and surprised me with all the information to allay my concerns (Stage Four – extra added value).
Communico’s MAGIC system provides the skills to meet all four stages of an exceptional experience every time. These include, calming concerns with empathy; expressing a willingness to help; uncovering expectations with superior questioning skills; making proactive promises; and offering additional help when needed. With these skills anyone can anticipate customer needs, keep promises, create a trusting relationship, and get results.
Imagine all four stages met consistently for your customers. What would that do for your business? What would that do for the engagement of your associates? What would that do for your ability to create exceptional customer experiences?
Start practicing the four stages. You will create an exceptional service culture and trust with every interaction.
Kustomer. (2020). What Consumers Expect From the Customer Experience….and How You Can Deliver. New York NY: Kustomer.
Dr. Wally Hauck is a senior vice president and co-owner of Communico. He is the author of Art of Leading: 3 Principles for Predictable Performance Improvement, Stop the Leadership Malpractice: How to Replace the Typical Performance Appraisal, Unleash Employee Engagement: 7 Initial Conditions for Outstanding Results