I may have used this title before, but it's worth using again and again.
I often get emails asking why I talk about stuff like the Hilton
Garden Inn Tri-Cities/Kennewick example. Aren't those just customer service stories and don't really have anything to do with marketing? As a matter of fact, they have everything to do with marketing and, IMNSHO, are more important to learn from than any direct mail/social media/email/advertising or whatever campaigns I can share.
Like most consultants/authors/speakers, I'm full of catchy little phrases. (I know many of you think I'm full of other stuff, too, but I digress.) The title of this post is one of them. Another is: the purpose of business is to create and maintain long-term, mutually profitable relationships.
Most companies tend to spend a high percentage of their time and money on generating new customers. But here's an interesting question: where did you GET that money you're using to generate new customers? Duh, you got it from your CURRENT customers! Doesn't it then make sense to use a good percentage of that money to KEEP getting your current customers to spend more money with you? And doesn't it also make sense to invest a good percentage of your marketing budget and time getting those current customers to also help find new customers? Duh, duh, duh. (I'm a rhetorical question machine!)
Let me repeat. Doesn't it then make sense to use a good percentage of your marketing budget to
KEEP getting your current customers to spend more money with you? In my June 7 post I asked if the Hilton Garden Inn Kennewick, WA deserved a 10. Some of you said yes. Most, including me, said no. I said I would give them a 9 for a genuine effort, but not a 10.
My 1-10 scale is a lot like the Richter Scale for earthquakes. Did you know that each subsequent higher number on the Richter Scale is ten times stronger than the previous number? A 6.0 earthquake is ten times more powerful than a 5.0. My personal rating scale for vendors is similar. I go into a relationship starting at a 5. That is defined by my pre-existing expectations for that relationship and each relationship can have different expectations. For example, my starting 5 has very different expectations for a Holiday Inn Express than it does for a Ritz-Carlton.
If you match my expectations, you get a 5. If you exceed my expectations, you start to move up the scale. But each subsequent number is harder to get. Moving from a 6 to a 7 is harder than moving from a 5 to a 6. In my book, getting to a 9 is a heck of an accomplishment (the Hilton Garden Inn Kennewick absolutely did a great job and because of Holly Siler's letter I will go back). But that's why getting a 10 from me is rare. It's takes something pretty amazing to get a 10.
That's also why I would never give a 10 to a business for fixing a problem. Remember, the GM said in a letter left in every room, "…if for any reason, we could not give them a 10 to please contact him and
he will fix it." I'm sorry, but we're SUPPOSED to fix problems. That is not service above and beyond the call of duty. When someone fixes a problem for me I don't think, "Wow, isn't it great they fixed the problem I shouldn't have had in the first place! I'll give them a 10!"
So how does someone get a 10 from me? It requires something completely unexpected; something I wouldn't even be able to articulate even if you asked. It requires almost reading my mind and delivering some type of service I didn't know I wanted, but am surprised and thrilled to get! That's why something as simple as the toothpaste on my bathroom counter at The Muse in New York City gets that hotel a 10 from me. Another example came this week from Donna Erwin:
I just wanted to share my experience at Trader Joe's today with you. I was shopping for food for this up coming First Friday Art Walk in Troutdale (Oregon). After I loaded my car, I went to return my cart to the front of the store. On the way, I noticed that there were two other carts in the parking spaces, so I gathered them, too, and pushed all three to the front of the store. As I was preparing to leave, there was a tap on my driver's side window. It was a smiling Trader Joe's employee offering me a bouquet of sunflowers to say thank you! It made my day! Wow! How cool is that?
Donna Erwin, Owner, International Award Winning Picture Framer
Columbia River Gallery
An amazing, unexpected WOW! That Trader Joe's gets a 10 from me.
Why is all this important? Because I MUST put my own business to the same test when it comes to taking care of my clients. I MUST constantly ask myself how I can move the needle to a 10 for each and every one. Yes, of course, I'm not going to succeed with all of them, but it's got to be my goal.
Over and over again we've heard the most powerful marketing tool is word-of-mouth. Yet last year I asked my readers how many had formal, word-of-mouth marketing strategies and 74% said NO. What the…?
What does a word-of-mouth strategy look like? Well, it's not standardized. It's not the same for every customer. Remember what I said it takes for a business to get a 10 from me? It requires almost reading my mind and delivering some type of
service I didn't know I wanted, but am surprised and thrilled to get! Each and every customer is different and each and every customer has a different definition of a 10. It's my job to figure out what that is.
It's my firm belief that 10's get talked about. Not 8's. Not 9's. I believe if the Trader Joe's employee had simply knocked on Donna's door and said, "Thanks for bringing those carts in," she wouldn't have emailed the story to me. But by delivering an expected WOW, she did.
We don't go out of our way to talk about a company that satisfied us. We don't go out of our way to talk about a company that even exceeded our expectations. We might mention them, if the situation arises, but we don't go out of our way to bring it up.
When something is WORTH talking about, it GETS talked about. When something happens that blows us away, we can't wait to share that.
BTW, did I tell you what happened when I stayed at The Muse hotel in New York City?
Steve, It’s so true! I told EVERYBODY about my experience at Trader Joes…and continue to. Now I’ve shared your blog with all of my facebook fans and email contacts. And the beat goes on….
What you say about it being the 10’s (not the 9’s or 8’s) that get talked about is absolutely true. It occurred to me that the flip side of that is just the opposite. If a customer has a negative experience, it takes very little to get it talked about and the results can be devastating. If someone talls me about a bad eating experience in a restaurant…poor food, bad service, whatever…unless I already have a good experience of my own there, not only am I unlikey to ever even try that restaurant, but I am likely to pass on the bad review to others, even though I, myself, have never tried it. A double whammy to the offending business! Another reason that good (above average) customer service is vital to business growth!