I was recently at a conference where I saw a wonderful customer service expert, Shep Hyken who shared his take on what makes a great customer experience.
Shep's story was interesting because it started when he was very young and he realised he was quite good at doing magic tricks. His first performance was playing the part of a magician at a friend’s birthday party. His act went down very well and he got great feedback from the crowd and with a little advice from his father, he learnt his first lesson in customer service. His father advised him to write a thank you note to the parents who hosted the party, thanking them for the opportunity that they gave him in performing at the party and then a couple of weeks later, he contacted the same family again and asked if they knew any other kids in the neighbourhood that were having birthdays. Sure enough they were happy to refer him on. And he repeated that process over and over again and he began to charge for his magic shows. And very soon he was doing dozens of magic shows every month. All the kids in his region wanted him at their parties, and he started to make a tidy living from being a child magician at other kid’s birthday parties.
There is a great lesson in this for all of us. Even in its simplest form, it really comes down to showing courtesy to people who give you their business. Make sure you do the best job you possibly can. Shep practiced hard and I have no doubt was a very good magician at a young age and put on a great show. So always put on your best performance for your customer. But then, do those extra things, make sure you show gratitude to your customer for choosing to give you their business. In Shep's case it was a hand written thank you note. Yours might be in a slightly different form, although a hand written note these days doesn’t go astray. And then even more importantly, following up within a couple of weeks and asking your customer if they have any other opportunities, are there any other ways you can help them? What other needs do they have that you might be able to help address? Or do they know anyone else who might benefit from your services?
This is a great combination of respectful customer service and marketing and clearly in Shep's case it got results and he also said he got plenty of birthday cake along the way, which as a 12 year old wasn’t too bad.
Remember in today’s reputation economy, the way your customers or clients directly experience you, goes a long way to contributing to your reputation. Your reputation is made up of three things,
- What you say about yourself,
- How people directly experience your business or organisation and
- What others say to others about your business or organisation.
Obviously what others say about you is going to be directly influenced by their experience of your business, and of course we know in today’s social media age, what others say to others makes up a huge part of your reputation. Businesses and organisations that understand this and take active steps to p[positively influence those who form their reputation are going to thrive in a reputation economy.
So take a leaf out of Shep's book, think of the 12 year old magician and the way he used customer service to build a great business. Even if you’re in a government agency or not for profit rather than a business, you can still apply these principles to the great service you deliver so that the reputation of your organisation stands out in today’s economy. So even using the wisdom of a child, we can learn great lessons and build our business through brilliant customer service.