The customer’s name was Gloria.
She wanted to buy her son a new skateboard, so she went to one of the two local sporting goods stores and looked around to see if anyone could help her. The only person she found just pointed her to the skateboarding part and went back to stocking up on sneakers. Finally, Gloria left for the sporting goods store down the street. There, an employee asked if she needed help. The employee walked to the skateboards with Gloria and explained the pros and cons of different boards. She asked about Gloria’s son and talked about the local skate parks.
As Gloria left, the employee yelled, “See you next time, Gloria!”
The details of Gloria’s story are made up, but every minute customers like her are making decisions about what to spend their money on based on brand loyalty. And that loyalty is won largely through customer service (crucially, from a human, not a bot).
A closer look at stories like Gloria’s illustrates the secret of customer service beyond customer service: infusing customer service with your values while putting people first.
Customer service infused with your values
To prioritize values in your own customer service, you must first establish the principles of your company. If you haven’t completed this exercise yet, pause. Now take a piece of paper and write down the values you associate with your company. These can include honesty, quality, transparency, growth, efficiency, boldness and loyalty. Pick your top four. These are the legs of your brand’s stool. Without one of these, your brand will start tipping.
Once you’ve mapped out your values or principles, consider how equipped your team is to implement those values.
In Gloria’s example, the second store employee knew that one of their brand values was individual service. Her company trained its floor reps so that each of them could answer a customer’s question. It took extra training time, but it enabled each representative to give each customer the necessary attention.
The employee in Gloria’s example also followed store policy to say, “See you next time!” when Gloria left. So every time a customer left the store, he was personally invited back. These psychology-based policies reflected the company’s values and had an impact on the bottom line.
Put people first
To put people first, consider what your company prioritizes. In Gloria’s example, the employee of the first store concentrated on stocking sneakers. At the second store, the employee focused on Gloria’s needs. Putting people first is a value that affects every aspect of your business, from your PTO policies to the music on hold on your customer service phone lines.
Expert in business growth Shari Levitin talks about a care package company that sends soup instead of flowers and cookies instead of cards. Levitin tried to send a care package to a friend through the company, but the package went to an old address. The company, Spoonful of Comfort, contacted Levitin and sent a new package to her friend free of charge. This experience was consistent with the company’s people-centric values, as the blogs describe: how to develop and value your people, not how to send soup. The company’s model won Levitin’s loyalty and dollars.
People can see when you are prioritizing them and when you are authentically living your values. They reward their loyalty accordingly. Implement these two things, and you might get customers for life.