Innovation Blog

Morning Jo: Top Three Companies that Deliver…


Disney Every single employee is considered a performer, and when they are on the grounds of the amusement park, they are on! Its showtime! I have a sign on the back of the break room door at every Snip-its that says, Its Showtime! So, whatever was going on in the break room is left in the break room, and what happens in the salon is magic! At Disney, they have a very complex maze of underground transportation and staging areas with elevators that come up to the park grounds. Youll never see Mickey Mouse adjusting his costume or chit chatting with a colleague as he gets out of the elevator. As he steps out into the spotlight, its showtime!

Ritz Carlton The hotel chain is famous for their customer service training, and every single employee from the maintenance man to the concierge is empowered to do whatever it takes to make the customer happy. A waiter will carry your bags, and a bellboy will serve you a meal. They never pass the buck; they do what needs to be done right there and then. They also add an extra touch, what we call E-Plus at Snip-its. E-Plus stands for Expectations: Plus! That means that you dont just meet a customers expectations, but you exceed them. At a Ritz hotel, thats a tall order because expectations are already high, so adding something extra takes training, empowerment, and creativity from every employee. But you have to admit, when they go above and beyond, it feels great!

Nordstrom the customer service training at Nordstrom focuses on the tenet that you should never have to pay for something you are unhappy with. For this reason, their return policy (which is now pretty standard in retail, but was not at all standard before Nordstrom implemented it) is no return policy. Not seven days, not store credit only, not with a receipt only. Literally, you can return any item at any time with no guilt trip and no questions asked. There is a famous urban legend of a customer returning a set of tires to Nordstrom, and Nordstrom doesnt even sell tires! At Snip-its, we say Lose the Sale; Keep the Customer. Which would you rather have: $20 from the botched haircut in your bank account? Or $2,000 in future sales from the lifetime value of that customer not to mention the goodwill and referrals youll get from making the customer happy. You should never have to pay for something you are unhappy with, and a happy customer is way more valuable than any single sale.

Heres an interesting psychological fact. People seek balance in their lives, and when they are set off balance, they need to find a way to return to neutral. Think of it like a scale, where balanced is in the center of the scale, E-Plus is on the right side, and (call it) E-Minus is on the left.

If you leave a customer feeling mistreated or unhappy, they will be on the left side of the scale unbalanced in a negative way. Weve all heard the horror stories of unhappy customers tweeting about their experience or writing angry letters to the owners. They say an unhappy customer will tell 100 people. This is how that customer gets back to neutral. Having been set off balance by a negative experience, she MUST do something to return to a balanced state. Complaining is just one way to do that; there are many awful things angry customers can do.

A neutral customer leaves your business satisfied she got what she was expecting and remains balanced. She not especially happy or sad after the experience, and therefore takes no action at all. This is OK, but not great. This customer may or may not return to do business with you again. This customer will likely not tell anyone about the experience, positive or negative. Youve left your customer in the exact same state as you found her.

Now, imagine you can E-Plus your customer. Put her off balance on the positive side of the scale. As with the unhappy customer, she MUST do something to return to a balanced state, but in this case, it will be very good for your business. It could mean a lifetime loyal customer or a customer who spreads word of mouth advertising on your behalf. This customer is called an advocate, and this is the customer you want.

When startups say they will rely on viral marketing to grow the business, they are hoping (praying) for the positive side of the scale. Now empower your people, deliver magic, and do whatever it takes to make the customer very, very happy.

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