Today’s guest contributor is my friend Tim Brownson, who’s a Life Coach, NLP Master Practitioner and author from England now living in Orlando, Florida. He’s currently involved in a huge project to give away 1,000,000 copies of the book he co-authored, How To Be Rich and Happy.
Do you find it strange when there is so much evidence to prove money is an appalling long-term motivator, so many businesses still seem oblivious to this fact and rely so heavily on it?
They will offer bonuses to staff for hitting targets, discounts to tempt new clients to join them, and hand out huge ex gratia payments to executives in spite of mediocre performance. Even though doing all this not only fails to improve performance and/or loyalty (other than in the very short-term), but will often impede it.
Study after study has removed any shred of doubt that the thing that really motivates people isn’t money or material objects, it’s something that is free and relatively easy to implement for any business that genuinely wants to do so.
If you have staff, clients or customers, making them feel valued and appreciated is, by some considerable margin, the single most effective thing you can do to build long-term relationships and guarantee great results.
Yet so many individuals and businesses fail to grasp that being appreciated is a basic human need. They then wonder why staff get demotivated and either do a poor job or leave, and customers aren’t continually trying to beat a path to their door.
A couple of years after we moved to the US, I was talking with a customer service advisor at Progressive Insurance about renewing the insurance on our cars. I forget how it came up now, but the women suddenly said to me “Wait, you mean you have a US driving license?” “Sure” I replied. “Well that means you qualify for another discount”
She then asked me how long I’d had it and when I replied two years she asked if she could call me back. Five minutes later she did so and advised me not only had the discount been applied but she’d requested and been granted authorization to backdate it 2 years.
How valued and appreciated do you think I felt?
Her determination to show me how much Progressive valued my custom not only saved me $400, but generated a rabidly loyal customer that spends over $2k per year with them and would never consider moving. That’s what I call a genuine win/win.
Here’s a secret that it took me years of running my own businesses to fully grasp:
Customer service is easy. Really easy. If the will is there it’s not only the easiest part of your business to get right, but the one that is, presuming your product or service is up to scratch, likely to yield the greatest results.
I used to own a record store back in the UK in the 90‘s and as you can imagine the holiday time was manic. One year we had a guy come in to order a CD on 23rd December. Fortunately for him we could get most items shipped over night and told him that we should have his CD in on Christmas Eve.
Unfortunately, the delivery was late, and when he came in mid-morning it hadn’t arrived. He didn’t quite go postal, but he was certainly very, very, unhappy, and he was ranting and raving in the store about poor service and how we’d messed up his Christmas.
Here’s what I could have done.
I could have pointed out what an idiot he had been for waiting until December 23rd to order a present he considered so important. I could have also explained that we had no control over the traffic that the delivery had got stuck in and thus it wasn’t our fault. I could have said we never guaranteed delivery, just said it was probable. And I could have waved him and his cash goodbye…forever.
Here’s what I did.
I got his home address and told him I would personally deliver the CD after we closed that evening. And then I did exactly that. I drove the couple of miles out of my way, knocked on his door, gave him the album and wished him Merry Christmas.
How easy was that? Do you think he felt valued? Do you think he told other people about that? Do you think he became a loyal customer?
I’m not saying that you should always go out of your way in such a manner or that you should be dictated to by irrational and aggressive customers or clients looking to rip you off. Sometimes it’s wise to walk away and be at peace you did your best to help somebody out.
But how often can businesses honestly say that they really did their best?
The Progressive story stands out because it is the exception when it should really be the rule. If you own your own business, no matter what it’s size, you have the opportunity every single day to separate yourself from your competition by getting the easiest part of your business right.
I’d love to hear any stories you have about a company blowing you away with customer service and making you a raving fan for life.
About the Author: Tim Brownson is a Life Coach, NLP Master Practitioner and author from England now living in Orlando, Florida. He’s currently involved in a huge project to give away 1,000,000 copies of the book he co-authored, How To Be Rich and Happy.
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