I ordered new running shoes from Zappos the other day.
If you’ve ever ordered from Zappos — you’ll know they sometimes don’t have the best prices. But they do deliver the best customer service.
When I say “CUSTOMER SERVICE”, it isn’t specific to business owners. If you work in corporate, CUSTOMER SERVICE is critical — you have CUSTOMERS above you, along side you, and below you. When you work at an organization, it’s formal Human Resources name is “interpersonal communication”.
To survive, you need to keep your customers engaged, happy, and wanting more of your products and services. So without further ado — here they are:
1. Deliver WOW during the whole process.
From the initial screens, to the multiple angles, to the highly-descriptive videos Zappos makes you feel right at home choosing your merchandise. Everything is clear, and open and they really don’t try to hard-sell you. In addition, they promote their core values at the bottom of every page to let the customer know what philosophies are guiding every business interaction.
When I say WOW, I want you to look at everything you do for your boss, customer, or client. At every juncture, how can you do a little bit better? How can you elevate every touchpoint and anticipate their needs? How can you reach out and make every interaction more streamlined and pleasurable?
2. Make the customer feel special by personalizing the process.
Zappos remembers ALL of your purchases. A year after I bought a pair of Merrell Jungle Mocs, I received an email to let me know it’s been a year and if I’d like to buy another pair. Although my pair is in good shape and I didn’t need another pair just yet — the thought of receiving a card is impressive.
When was the last time you reached out to your current client base to remind them of a service or product? How about a new service or product? How about a simple card appreciating their business? You can do almost anything and make the customer feel special.
3. Be responsive.
4. If something goes wrong, ask questions and listen.
5. If you screwed up, give them a token of appreciation.
I had a slight snafu with one of my orders — I ordered it on the regular Zappos site and not the VIP site (we order a lot of shoes). The end result — shoes I thought were arriving that day were delayed by a few days. On the phone, the Zappos representative was helpful and was able to expedite the shipment. In addition, they sent me an email with a $25 credit to apply to my next purchase. WOW.
If something goes wrong — fix it immediately. Don’t wait for it to ‘go away’.
First, you need to be instantly accessible to allow your clients to access you. All of my clients have a direct line to me — so they can either call or email me. If it’s an emergency, I get back the them ASAP. If it’s just a question, 24 hours is fine. But I am there — they don’t sit in my inbox for weeks or are relegated to my voicemail for eternity. I get back to them. And they can access me instantly.
Second, if there is something wrong, ask questions and then LISTEN. Most people try to fix the problem without listening to the entire story. Your customer first and foremost want you to empathize with their situation. So your job is to ask questions for clarification and listen to them until they run out of steam. Then empathize with them — “I’m so sorry to hear that happened.” or “Let’s see what we can do to solve your problem.”
Finally, if YOU screwed up — apologize and give them a token of appreciation. A discount, a gift, flowers, take them out to lunch, whatever. A small token of acknowledgement and a gift will not only go the distance, they will be your customer forever.