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Let’s wrap up this week’s theme on customer happiness with some discussion on creating a culture that is intent on delivering it. It’s not overly complicated, but making the decision can be.
I’ll jump right in and tell you why a fanatical customer happiness culture is hard. Math. That’s right. Math gets in the way.
More specifically, it’s about how business owners and top leaders view money.
This week I had two different encounters that robbed me of about 4 hours total. Companies that open their doors daily without any regard to customer happiness. Every day it happens. They start another day running uphill in the battle for customer satisfaction. Forget happiness. They’re not yet on square one toward satisfaction. Happiness is many solar systems away.
After running into a brick wall on a technical issue that I attempted to solve myself (something I usually am able to do rather quickly), I contact support. I’m quickly informed that what I want to do isn’t possible. Hum. Okay. I don’t think that’s right so I push back ever so slightly. Nope. Not possible.
On a lark I bail out then contact support again, this time getting a different person. I don’t know. Let me check, she says. Okay.
Nothing. She goes dark and never returns. Perhaps the Bermuda Triangle Of Sucky Customer Service snagged her.
This goes on for a bit while I’m Googling like a fiend. Somewhere along the way, I find a page produced by this same company. That’s right. It was on their website. Addressing my issue and confirming that my technical issue could be solved. Four support people had no knowledge of the issue or their own company’s website content about it. I was brand new to them (fooling with them on behalf of a friend) and I found it. But I was the customer (kinda sorta) so I had a much bigger interest in solving my problem.
And there it was. The problem staring at me once again. The same problem with pathetic customer service we all experience. Leadership sucks. Top level leaders, including their CEO and founder do not have a customer happiness focus. If they did, my experience would have been vastly different.
Here’s why it’s a math problem. A money problem.
Making customers happy costs money. Sometimes lots of money. That means reduced profits. It means lower sales. Or…does it?
Some leaders aren’t good with customer happiness math. Instead they practice the hard math school taught them. Or numbers the VC community knows by heart. But math is alive in the real world and behind the math are human beings. When you’re trying to create the next startup unicorn (a company that hits the billion dollar mark), you don’t always focus on Randy, the customer. It just doesn’t seem to scale. Or…does it?
Last year Skybell Video Doorbell founder Andrew Thomas wrote an article at Inc. entitled, “The Secret Ratio That Proves Why Customer Reviews Are So Important.”
Here’s the ratio: It takes roughly 40 positive customer experiences to undo the damage of a single negative review.
Mr. Thomas writes:
A customer who has a negative experience is highly likely to share that experience by leaving a bad review. A customer who has a positive experience, on the other hand, is unlikely to leave a good review.
The bar is high, but every CEO and business owner must clear it IF they want to build a company with a reputation for customer happiness. That’s the rub. Many, perhaps most, don’t. They’d rather pursue a financially successful company and they lack the vision to see and understand that those goals aren’t contradictory.
A culture intent on delivering customer happiness understands the seemingly hidden math that works in favor of companies who delight customers.
Mr. Thomas knows. He says so in the article.
There’s only one solution. If a single bad review can undo the value of 40 good customer experiences, then the best solution is to focus on customer satisfaction. If it isn’t already, customer happiness should be just as important to your business as the product or service itself.
It starts at the top. That’s why you, the company leader, must fully understand how important it is for you to dazzle every single customer. As much as possible.
I could enter your company and spend less than a few hours talking with your employees to unearth how serious you are about customer happiness. Your team members will readily relay to me what’s important to you. Maybe it’s sales. Maybe it’s efficiency. Maybe it’s profit margins. Maybe it’s customer happiness. But they’ll tell me.
And it will be based on what they hear from you on a regular basis. It’ll be based on what sets you off. And what doesn’t.
Your company listens to what you say and how you say it. They listen to what you don’t say, too.
Your company watches what you do and whether that fits with what you say. They know where you invest capital and where you refuse to invest. They know where the bodies are buried and they know which bodies need to be buried but are still haunting the place (dead workers).
They do what they have to do to keep their jobs. And if they’re able to keep their jobs, or even get promoted, without any focus on customers — then they’re doing what’s most important to you. And it ain’t customers! Or they’d be behaving differently.
How do you create a customer happiness culture? You make it THE priority of the company. You don’t make it the priority when it pays handsomely. You make the priority no matter what.
People see how serious you are about it when they see your willingness to do whatever it takes to make something right for a customer.
“Yeah, but some customers are just unreasonable,” you say. I hear that most often.
Yes, they are. So?
“Well, how do you make an unreasonable person happy?”
I don’t know. Figure it out. Worst case scenario you find some common ground to make them go away satisfied. Best case scenario you convert them into somebody so loyal to you that they tell everybody they know how great you are. You exhaust yourself to win them over by doing the right thing.
Because at the end of the day it’s your company and your self-respect. And it’s the self-respect of everybody who works for you. When you commit to do the right thing, even for the jerks you sometimes serve, then it makes serving all those great customers even easier (and better).
Your company culture must see your seriousness about this. They must know – deeply know and understand – how important this is to you. That means you refuse to negotiate it, for any amount.
It’s a long-term play. That’s why it’s hard. Many lack the discipline to make the commitment. They mistakenly think any commitment other than the top-line revenue or bottom-line profit is misguided. They fail to see the mathematical truth that making customers happy is like the magic of compounding interest. It may take time, but it keeps building momentum (and revenues/profits) along the way. Nothing trumps it.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!