"No matter what industry, size, or type of organization you lead, delivering an experience that inspires your customers is what every business wants."
Randi Busse and Carol Heady’s book, Turning Rants Into Raves, is delivered as an actionable plan meant to inspire business owners to focus on one all-important goal: customer service excellence. The result is an informative, practical, and engaging guide centered around five principles that should be “in the hands of every employee who represents your company.” The authors employ insightful interviews with business owners and employees, illustrations depicting real customer service situations, informative statistics, and questions throughout each chapter to help the reader create their own plan.
The authors have a combined total of 50 years of customer service experience in a variety of industries, and have concluded that “customer experience is a leading predictor of customer loyalty.” Their mission: to help you create loyal customers who are inspired to rave about your company. They introduce the fictitious employees “Rant” and “Rave” who appear throughout the book, demonstrating the difference between the positive or negative customer service.
Statistics support their view. Carol and Randi point out: “Improving the customer experience has become a major strategic priority for just about every company, according to a report by Forrester Research, The State of the Customer Experience, 2012. Of all the businesses surveyed, 93% identified the customer experience among their strategic priorities, and 28% placed it at the top of the list. Additionally, 75% plan to use it as a key differentiator. Will you?”
As a business owner, I know that customer service excellence is everything. And your employees must be motivated – by you – to care enough to represent your business as though it was their own. Carol and Randi invite you to reflect on how your approach is cascading across your business. How you treat and inspire your employees will directly translate into how they communicate to your customers. Do your employees feel valued and important? If you can answer yes, then they will make your customers feel delighted and loyal too.
So, how do you turn rants into raves?
Never Underestimate Your Influence
"If your employees aren’t engaged, your customers won’t be either."
How do you engage your employees?
Carol and Randi offer five principles to help you guide employees:
1. Think Like An Owner
2. Build a Relationship
3. Remove the Roadblocks
4. Walk in Your Customer’s Shoes
5. Capture Your Customer’s Heart
As the authors say, “implementing these principles will help you provide experiences that inspire your customers to rave about your company, earn their trust and loyalty, and positively impact your bottom line.”
How do you take action on the five principles?
See Things From Their Perspective
"Treat customers the way they want to be treated."
While the Golden Rule may be treat others as you would want to be treated, Carol and Randi introduce the platinum rule: Treat customers the way they want to be treated.
To be like the character Rave:
Demonstrate sensitivity to customers’ situations (Acknowledge customers’ feelings.)
Be proactive to help customers (Offer to research alternative solutions.)
Reassure customers that you can help them (Tell a customer, “I see you are frustrated; let me help you.”)
Treat customers the way they want to be treated (Ask customers what they’d like us to do for them.)
The authors provide many examples of good and not-so-good customer service. Here is the thinking behind one real-life employee’s personal philosophy:
“The customer is priority one and we want to do what’s best for the customer. That’s the main goal. The customer is why I’m here, so to help them, whether it’s to do something simple on their account or to discuss their business plans, my personal philosophy is that I want to help them succeed in their business and actually accomplish what they’re trying to do.”
The bottom line: Stay focused on walking in your customers’ shoes.
Capture Your Customer's Heart
"Create an emotional connection with your customer that makes him feel special and appreciated."
As Carol and Randi say, “every interaction has two dimensions, human and business. The human dimension involves your emotions and interpersonal skills (listening, empathy, demonstrating appreciation, sympathy, acts and gestures of kindness and caring), while the business dimension involves your technical or task skills (problem-solving, asking questions, follow-up, product knowledge). We often focus more on the business dimension – completing the task at hand – yet it takes both skill sets to care for your customers and capture their hearts.”
To demonstrate small acts of kindness, try to:
Make customers feel special (Send handwritten cards thanking them for their business.)
Personalize customer experiences (Use customers’ names or remember them from a previous interaction.)
Exceed customer expectations (Arrange for customers to get orders before they expect them.)
Be genuinely interested in customers (Acknowledge special events like birthdays or awards.)
Carol and Randi also point out that “80 per cent of social media users have bailed on a purchase due to poor customer service, as have 55 per cent of consumers overall.” They call social media “the new word of mouth” and it’s true. Every day on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others, I read about my friends and colleagues’ personal experiences with various companies – good and bad! We are always sharing our stories and talking back and forth about our experiences.
How you plan to turn your Rants into Raves?