The client’s name is Gloria.
She wanted to buy her son a new skateboard, so she went to one of the two local sporting goods stores and found someone to help him. The only one she found pointed her towards the skateboard area and back wearing sneakers. Finally, Gloria left for the sporting goods store down the street. There, an associate asked her if she needed help. The partner took Gloria to the skateboard and explained the pros and cons of the different types of boards. She asked about Gloria’s son and talked about the local skate parks.
As Gloria left, the partner called, “See you next time, Gloria!”
The details of Gloria’s story are crafted, but every minute, customers like her make decisions about where to spend their money based on brand loyalty. And that loyalty is largely won on customer service (importantly from humans, not bots).
A closer look at stories like Gloria’s illustrate the secret to going above and beyond customer service: infusing customer service with your values while putting people first.
Infuse customer service with your values
To prioritize the values of your own customer service, you first need to define your business principles. If you haven’t finished this exercise, pause. Grab a piece of paper now and write down the values you associate with your business. These can include honesty, quality, transparency, growth, efficiency, boldness, and loyalty. Choose your top four. These are the pins of your brand stool. Without one of these, your brand will start to take off.
Once you’ve outlined your values or principles, consider how your team is equipped to implement them.
In Gloria’s example, the affiliate at the second store knew that one of their brand values was personalized service. Her company cross-trained its floor reps so that any of them can answer any customer questions. It takes extra training, but it allows each rep to give each client the attention they need.
The employee in the Gloria example also follows the store policy of saying, “See you next time!” when Gloria left. So every time a customer leaves the store, they are personally invited to return. Policy based on this mentality reflects the values of the business and affects the bottom line of the business.
Put everyone first
To put people first, consider what your business prioritizes. In Gloria’s example, the partner of the first store focused on the athletic shoe stock. At the second store, the associate focused on Gloria’s needs. People first is a value that affects every aspect of your business, from your PTO policy to the music kept on your customer service phone line.
Business growth expert Shari Levitin talks about a package company that takes care of sending soups instead of flowers and cookies instead of cards. Levitin tried to send a care package to a friend who uses the company, but the package arrived at an old address. The company, Spoonful of Comfort, contacted Levitin again and sent a free new package to her friend. This experience aligns with the company’s people-centered values — for example, company blogs that describe how to develop and appreciate your people, not how soup is delivered. The company’s model has earned the loyalty of Levitin and dollars.
People can tell when you’ve made them a priority and when you’ve truly lived up to your values. They reward their loyalty accordingly. Do these two things and you can get customers for life.
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