Seth Godin says:
“The best time to study for a test
… is before it’s given.
The best time to campaign is before the election.
And the best time to keep a customer is before he leaves.”
Jeff Bezos knows it:
“There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.
Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.”
In these statements is the seed of modern business success: an obsession with the customer experience.
The Save Call Before the Save Call
Every service business knows the save call.
It’s the tough call made to a client we know is ready quit. We come ready with explanations, assurances, and perks to balm their frustration and keep them on. We describe how we’ll double our efforts, find a better way, and do everything in our power to exceed their expectations.
Sometimes the save call works. We keep the client on. But often the extension is only temporary. The call may go great, but the damage to your relationship is already done. You’ve spent trust you can’t get back.
Have you ever made a “save call” to a client who is currently happy? How often do you make efforts to exceed the expectations of a client whose expectations are being met?
Consider what Jeff Bezos says. Even your happiest clients are always on the edge of dissatisfaction. They won’t tell you today that they want something better, but tomorrow they’ll want it anyway.
Is your customer-service policy just about keeping clients happy, or does it strive to provide for clients’ needs before they have them?
The best time to make a save call is before you have to make a save call.
“Houston, we have a problem.”
Apollo 13 was the first trip to the moon where the public began to see the journey as routine. In fact, the televised broadcasts from the astronauts were canceled due to lack of interest – until an accident put the mission into jeopardy. By the time Apollo 17 (the last trip to the moon) happened, the public was bored with it.
20 years ago we marveled at how the internet gathered information and Google provided amazingly accurate results for our searches. Today this is an everyday thing we take for granted.
People today get bored almost instantly. We have infinitesimal attention spans. Excitement is a spark that’s gone almost as it appears.
And you wonder why your unbelievable Facebook posts or Instagram images aren’t getting more likes?
Or you’re perplexed by how your staff moves along with complacency – until disaster strikes and suddenly everybody is jolted into action.
It’s no easy thing to hold an audience’s attention. Exceeding expectations is easier said than done.
A yoga instructor in Boulder, CO couldn’t fill her classes. She tried to market, advertise, and gain attention on social media, but she wasn’t getting anywhere.
She wanted to delight her clients in a new way. Her solution didn’t come from a group of marketing analysts.
What would stimulate interest in her yoga classes? Baby goats.
The latest trend attracting people to yoga classes is goats. There is some affinity between baby goats and people doing yoga. It’s a trend that started in Oregon and has gone viral:
Sometimes you don’t know what your clients want. Often, they don’t know what they want.
But you’ll both know it when you find it.
Take a Loss, Win a Lifelong Customer
I’d made a mistake.
The customer called ahead wanting to know our price on a bag of dog food. I looked it up – our price was surprisingly low.
“That’s much cheaper than the other store in town, are you sure about that price?” he asked.
“I’m looking right at it,” I replied with confidence.
After I got off the phone, I did a double take. I was not looking right at it. I looked up the wrong bag.
Soon, the customer came in, went to the bag of dog food them came to me.
“Oh, sorry. There was a mistake. My fault.”
The customer squinted at me, frowned, and turned to leave the store.
But the shop owner happened to be listening in.
“Hold on sir, what happened?” he asked.
I explained that I’d made an honest mistake and looked up the wrong bag of food.
“No worries sir, we’ll give that price today. Hope you’ll come again soon.”
The customer smiled.
“I was leaving for good, but since you’re making up for it I’ll keep you guys in mind.”
We lost money on that bag of dog food. But the customer left knowing we cared about his business.
Day 1 Vitality
Jeff Bezos uses this term, and we all understand it.
When we start out in business, there is an initial excitement that’s hard to match. We’re optimistic about our plans and how we’ll help our clients. The grind of overcoming daily challenges hasn’t yet dealt its blow. We’re focused on opportunity, innovation, positivity, and excellence.
But what about day 1825? You’re five years into business (which shows you’re doing something right), but do you have that same sense of vitality you had when you started? Are you still inventing on your customer’s behalf?
There has never been a time in history when the phrase “what have you done for me lately” had such literal importance. Customers today aren’t engaged by what you did last week. They’re not impressed with what you did yesterday. And they’re not interested in what you did 5 minutes ago.
Brands are not in control today the way they were pre-internet. They no longer control the customer experience, guiding people where they want them to go. Instead, they have to understand where the customer wants to go and help them get there.
That takes fresh ideas, creativity, innovation, and a sense of adventure. You have to tell a story where your customer is the hero. Their lifestyle is the setting, and how you solve their problem is the plot.
Most of all, it means exciting them with incredible value before they ask for it. They won’t consider other options, because you fulfill their needs before they knew what they needed.
It’s Day 1 – again. Start saving the customers who love you.