I was recently on Facebook and saw an update by fellow entrepreneur Bradley Hill that read “Bradley Hill had a very poor customer service experience at Domino’s pizza last night. Why is it so hard for merchants to do the right thing?”
I commented on his status, noting how I keep telling clients to use this slow time created by the recession to improve their customer experience. Bradley’s response was this:
“Not so long ago, if a customer had a bad experience he told 20 people. I just told hundreds with the click of a button. Looks like companies would figure that out. Not a good time to tick-off customers.”
His update on Facebook told hundreds, I’m now telling hundreds more with this blog, and if I choose to “tweet” about it, the news of Domino’s poor service could go out to 1,200 people within a few seconds. Who they tell could then multiply that exponentially.
I understand that budgets are tight and some companies are so busy forestalling disaster that they’re not focusing on building a future. But this viral immediacy could take a company down.
If you want to prepare for your service stories to go viral, do the following:
1. Develop a sense of urgency. Okay, I can’t demand that you get a sense of urgency, but you can totally differentiate your company and put it in the “still here in two years” category by letting everyone know that NOW is the time to wow. Not with expensive new products, but with behaviors as simple as smiling, saying “thank you,” and walking around a counter to hand a customer their bag. In fact, at this point, we’d be happy to have someone talk to us instead of their co-worker and show up with a hot pizza. We’re pretty easy at this point.
2. Refocus on behaviors – they’re proactive. In tough economic times all eyes return to the spreadsheet without the realization that behaviors drive those numbers. Results don’t just happen; people make sales happen. Set a few behaviors as required for every customer interaction. Then surround employees with an environment that rewards those behaviors.
3. Measure results. No initiative in the world is going to catch on simply because you think it’s important. Change is difficult, and people need to know that the effort they’re putting in is worth it. Ever have a teacher that would have you write a five page paper and then not grade it? How did you feel? Did you ever put a lot of energy into a paper for that teacher again? Measure and show improvement, both in service behaviors and sales results. The accountability factor will ensure that the behaviors continue.
Every time you (or anyone in your company) interacts with a customer, think of this — your behavior could be virally described to 5,000 people before the customer leaves your place of business. So ask yourself – Is your service ready to go viral?