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Why do customers want to keep coming back?

There’s only one chance to make a great first impression; that very moment you turn a customer off when something goes awry is the same moment the competition tries to reel him in with a more attractive offer and a lot of new promises. For many of us the ultimate in business growth and success is repeat business, because these are the very loyal customers who will not only return for another service or purchase, but these are the very same people who will tell others why they have chosen us and advise them to follow our successful paths.

Great companies who continue to lead today’s generation of “WOW” customer service all have the same basic principles for success. Each one offers a great product or a great service, well-trained and empowered personnel, a proven history of problem solving and customer satisfaction, and the alignment of every department working together in order to deliver a successful experience to a purchaser. The best of customer service begins with the perception of exactly what a customer expects. If you delivered a product in the past, but failed to make that lasting impression your customers won’t be calling you again. If your customers felt you were just there to make the sale, undoubtedly they will have moved on to your competition for their next purchase. Customers want to appreciated, and although they won’t come out and tell you that, their actions speak louder than words.

For instance, potential home buyers walk by a real estate company along Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. The couple decide to stop in for a chat. From Rhode Island, Mr. and Mrs. Jones have dreamed of having a place in the sun to relax along the sandy beaches of South Florida during the cold New England winters, and although they have looked online for Palm Beach listings, they have never had the opportunity to actually visit the areas affordable to them. Their ideal search therefore begins with an experienced agent who can explain the possibilities, introduce the couple to available financing opportunities, coordinate the specific and unusual insurance demands of Florida, and find them the perfect property to suit their needs. Summing it all up – success comes with knowing your business, your market, your customers, and having the ability to collaborate experts in all related fields to produce a strong relationship to accommodate customers until they reach a successful closing experience. Whether it takes one week of intensive potential home previews or six months of credit repair, the partnership of working together for the benefit of the customer or client becomes that positive memorable experience.

So how does an organization deliver customer service which strives to exceed great expectations?

  • Each and every action should be  a commitment to a customer which ultimately ends in loyalty. The customer has to know they are important, and each and every sale made concentrates on the needs and wants of the customer. A customer should never think that all an organization cares about is just the sale.
  • Only hire the best employees, and spend the money and time training them. Move past the employees who are just there waiting for payday. Although the initial hiring salaries and subsequent training can cost a company more than budgeted at the onset, poor employees mean unhappy customers, fewer referrals, and non existent loyalties.
  • Every business decision should be well planned and strategic. Dedicate customer service as a top priority. Each time a customer calls in with a suggestion, a question, or a complaint, make sure that any representative is able to deliver efficient service.
  • Consistently work to improve your organization.

Zappos customer service ‘core values’ sets record for longest call

Zappos’ Customer Loyalty Team repeatedly exceeds expectations of the family culture CEO Tony Hsieh envisioned as his passion for customizing customer service always remains a number one priority 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. On December 8, Customer Loyalty Team member Shaea Labus spent 10 hours and 29 minutes on a phone call. According to The Huffington Post, the call set a new record; beating out the previous record at the online shoe and apparel retailer of 8 hours and 29 minutes.

As an integral part of their unconventional and innovative customer service, Hsieh’s ideas are reflected in everything Zappos. If work shouldn’t be viewed as onerous, “being a little weird requires being a little innovative.” The call between Shaea and a customer named Lisa didn’t concern a customer service problem; it involved the caller transferring to Las Vegas and asking questions seeking information about neighborhoods, jobs, and what it’s like to live in that part of the country. Shaea stated she took one bathroom break during that time, and her teammates brought her food while she was on the call. And to Shaea’s credit, the caller did purchase a pair of Ugg boots.

There is nothing better than the human factor when calling customer service. Of course automated systems are cheaper and more efficient than hiring humans, but most customers calling in and having to deal with an Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) where one must “press 1 to continue in English” becomes exasperating and confusing as the next prompt warns the caller to listen carefully because “the options may have changed.” If customer service is all about sending away happy customers while forming lasting relationships so these customers return to make more purchasers or tell their family and friends what a great experience they had using a company, shouldn’t some retailers be taking lessons from a company like Zappos? Statistics reveal that automated answering systems have longer hold times; whereas automated answering systems average a wait time of two minutes per phone call, a human answering the phone averages only a minute wait time.

Customer service is all about making the customer feel important, and the largest part of Zappos investment into customer satisfaction is training their team to be good listeners, and staying on the phone as long as necessary to help. After all, aren’t future customers a large part of building a company, and isn’t a company built one customer at a time? There’s little doubt that customer Lisa will always be a loyal customer, and there’s no doubt that Lisa will be telling friends and family about her experience with Customer Loyalty Team member Shaea Labus. And it’s not that a customer service agent must stay on the phone forever, but having the option always available for the taking is a step in the right direction.