Motivate Your Customers to Return
By Scott Holmes and Kit Sullivan
Regardless of your position or job title, in any organization your
number one task will always be to attract and satisfy customers.
In other words, customer service is job one! And everyone has customers.
GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS
With regard to customer service, there is good news and bad news.
First the bad news: The average American company will lose between
10 percent and 30 percent of its customers this year - mainly because
of poor customer service. When customers have a choice, they will
go to your competitor almost one third of the time.
Customer service is like an election being held every day and the
customers voting with their feet. If dissatisfied, they walk (sometimes
run) to your competitor.
Now the good news: Organizations that initiate effective customer
service programs have seen profits jump 25 percent to 100 percent.
experience reduced employee turnover and a much happier workforce.
THE FRONTLINE DIFFERENCE
The customer-service game is ultimately won or lost
on the frontlines where customers come in contact with your employees.
In your customer's eyes, these employees are the company. Employees
who come into regular contact with your customers must see themselves
as the heroes that they really are.
Managers should share this view and must support these employees
with the tools (such as training and established operating systems)
needed to serve the customer appropriately. Surprisingly, very few
organizations seem to understand this.
ZONE OF INDIFFERENCE
Why do customers make the decisions they make? Customers
are rational people. If their buying experience is positive, they
will probably come back; if negative, they will try to avoid returning.
Customers who are not dissatisfied are not necessarily satisfied
customers. They could be merely indifferent to the whole experience.
They may not even remember your organization the next time they
need the same service.
Satisfied and not satisfied, therefore, do not represent
the entire spectrum of customer experience, merely the two extremes.
In between these two extremes is what most customers experience
- indifference. This zone of indifference can be home to as much
as 80 percent of your customer base.
For a customer to be motivated to return to your business - and
only your business - for future needs, something more than adequate
service must be experienced. Otherwise, that customer resides in
the zone of indifference and is not positively motivated to come
back to you in the future.
The frustrating thing about customer expectations is that they
are all perceptual. They exist solely in the mind of the individual
customer. Sometimes they're accurate and rational, sometimes they
A customer's judgement of satisfaction goes beyond just the product
or service purchased. The standards by which customers measure satisfaction
are much more vague, and they present somewhat of a moving target.
The challenge, then, is to create positively motivated customers
by exceeding their expectations.
OVER-PROMISE VS. UNDER-DELIVER
Some companies seem to have fallen into the trap of promising the
customer the best possible product or service (over-promising),
and then delivering only an adequate experience (under-delivering).
This will almost never result in customer satisfaction simply because,
based on the over-promise, the customer's perceived expectations
are too high.
The trick is to make realistic, positive promises about your service
or product. This helps to set your customer's perceived expectations
at a rational and attainable level.
When you exceed those rational and attainable expectations, you
achieve what most companies talk about endlessly yet rarely, if
ever, succeed at on a regular basis - customer satisfaction.
Scott Holmes is a partner in Connecticut Car Care, a Milford,
CT-based firm whose operations include car washes, detail centers,
and fast lube facilities. Scott was program chairman in 1999 for
the Fast Lube Division of the ICA Convention.
Kit Sullivan has worked with large and small independent fast-lube
operators developing strategies for business growth while implementing
continuous training programs to sustain their future success.
Scott and Kit work together as consultants specializing in the
car wash and fast-lube arena. They can be reached at (203) 232-1258.