With so many distractions, particularly at this late season, we can forget how our success is ALL about our customer service. Are you delighting your customers at every contact? Or are you neglecting them into the arms of other vendors? The math is clear! It is five times more expensive to make sales to new customers than it is to keep your current customers happy.
Read on to find the 3 lost keys and consider ways to delight your customers. Let’s keep them coming back to you, year after year, and get them talking about you to their friends. For more detailed insights, be sure to download the white paper, 10 Ways to Grow your Business Through Referrals from Existing and Past Customers.
The KANO Model – Understand What Matters Most
Here at PBC, we love the KANO Model for understanding customer service. It is a classic piece of theory that both describes customer requirements AND is a tool for transforming your business into one that excels at customer service. Here it is:
It is not as complicated as it looks at first sight. It’s a tool for doing two things:
1) Understanding your customers’ requirements (vertical axis) and
2) How much effort you expend with your products to satisfy those requirements.
Attributes of your product that move along the red curve satisfy minimal customer requirements. They are the ‘table stakes,’ to use a gambling analogy, that ensure your business remains in the game. Being open for business during the hours that you advertise is an example of this curve. You don’t increase satisfaction for more accurately doing that but you certainly lose satisfaction points if you deviate a great deal. And the more you deviate, the more you will disappoint your customers.
The blue line is the linear relationship between paying more and getting more. An example of this is economy, business, and first class airline travel. More service is offered for more money and greater levels of satisfaction are obtained in proportion to the offer level. The customer understands that if they pay more they will get more of the aspects that move along the blue line.
By asking and listening to your customers you will discover ‘delighters’ on the green curve. This line describes customer requirements that are rarely expressed but greatly appreciated when experienced. They are the personal aspects. The delightful intangibles that make all the difference in the world to your business success and often cost very little to perform, like greeting your customers with a smile, or sending them a handwritten thank-you note. Those are the aspects of your product delivery that excite and delight. Customers may not even be aware of these, let alone be able to express them to you. You must implement a deliberate and specific process to identify and implement them.
When you satisfy customers’ basic requirements, you get into the market (red curve). When you meet their performance requirements, (i.e. your products do what they were bought for) you have a sustainable competitive business (blue line). But when you, EXCEED your customers’ attractive and exciting requirements, your business suddenly becomes world class (green curve.)
3 Lost Keys to Unlock Customer Satisfaction
Hidden within the Kano model are 3 keys to unlock world-class customer service. I call them lost, because they often get buried under the multitude of distractions in modern business life. They also get shuffled down the ‘to do’ list because they require time, effort, and mindfulness and because of our longing for simple solutions. They are:
1. Ask and actively listen to your customers: Call PBC for a free consultation on creating a Kano-based customer questionnaire. With this invaluable tool, we can categorize all of the attributes of your product, service, or process. Then we can highlight the ‘attractive’ customer requirements and plan to exceed them. Read our blog “Are You Taking Advantage of Your Customers?” for a list of 10 ideas that you might find helpful, if you are not taking full advantage of your customer relationships.
2. Be your customers: You and your employees are your own best resource when it comes to understanding requirements. When did you last walk in a first-time customers’ shoes and feel what they feel when interacting with you? Or consider seeking out an independent and objective ‘mystery shopper’ and enlist their help. Buy your competitors’ offerings and with your team deconstruct their processes from beginning to end. Stand on their shoulders to build your own business even higher. Read our blog “9 Actions to Build Employee Engagement” for 9 practical changes you can make in your business culture that will get you moving toward FULL Engagement.
3. Assess your own customer service: Use the Kano model and evaluative questions to place each aspect of your customer’s satisfaction ratings with each functional attribute of your product and service. Then task a matrix team to go all out to exceed those attractive requirements with a detailed plan to create a customer service culture in your business. Read our blog “Thriving in a Matrix World” to learn more about ways to reduce your frustration with your bottom line and to balance your business and personal lives.
The secrets of a total customer service culture will be the subject of our January newsletter. But remember, transforming your customer service is not something that should wait for a New Year’s resolution. Now is the time! Think of this as the PBC’s Christmas gift to you, dear reader.
Call PBC today for a free consultation on this topic or any other business issue. We put out these 3 lost keys to get you thinking and to spark your own ideas for making this year, your most profitable ever!
Connect with us on social media and be part of the dialog.
This originally appeared in my December 2016 Newsletter.