GUEST POST from Shep Hyken
What brands do you trust the most? And why? There are certain products and companies that seem to own the trust of their customers. It stems from product quality, reliability, managing expectations, good customer service and, perhaps most importantly, consistency.
Keep in mind that consistency is related to all of the attributes mentioned. A consistently bad experience and poor quality, while still consistent, is the opposite of what you’re trying to create. And inconsistency is almost as bad. A great experience one day followed by an average or poor experience will cause customers to question what the next experience is going to be. A pattern of inconsistency kills confidence and trust.
Let’s break it down:
1. Quality and Reliability: A product or service must do what it’s supposed to do. When you think of the most successful brands, you trust them because you know what you’re going to get. That comes from confidence in the product and/or the customer service. If that confidence is broken, it can take a long time to rebuild trust—if the customer even chooses to give the company or brand another chance. For example, a popular restaurant chain had an E. coli outbreak. Even with a stellar reputation, it took years to regain the trust of its customers.
2. Customer Experience: Customer service must be easily available. Customer service isn’t a department. The best companies know that serving the customer is more than reacting to problems, answering questions and resolving complaints. It’s the way customers are treated throughout their entire journey with a company or brand.
And while you may want to have a 100% flawless experience in which the customer never has to reach out, it’s impossible. Every company is going to have problems. In the early days of Amazon, Jeff Bezos was famous for saying that Amazon should be so good that it didn’t need a customer support department. Maybe it was that good, but when the product left the warehouse a third party took over the shipping. And if the package was lost in transit, who would the customer blame? To the customer, it was Amazon’s fault. So, Amazon needed a support center, even for problems that weren’t its fault.
It’s not if there will ever be a customer service issue, it’s when. The best organizations recognize the need for an excellent experience combined with excellent customer support, when needed.
3. Managing Expectations: You don’t have to WOW a customer to get them to say, “Wow.” When people describe a “Wow” experience, it’s typically over-the-top. The problem is that you can’t always be over the top. The opportunities to be over-the-top or go above and beyond happen when there are special situations, such as a problem that is handled so well that the customer says, “Wow!”
The key is to not worry about trying to be over-the-top with every interaction, but to be just a little above average. It is consistent and predictable above-average experiences—even just a tiny bit above average—that make customers say, “Wow!” Speaking of consistent and predictable, we move on to the next attribute …
4. Consistency: Anything less than a consistent experience erodes trust. Consistency is where “the rubber meets the road.” As just mentioned, it is the consistent and predictable above-average experience that gets customers to say, “Wow!” What gets them to that point is when they say, “They are always so helpful … always so knowledgeable … they always respond quickly. …” It’s the word always followed by a positive comment. Often, those comments are basic expectations. Shouldn’t all employees be helpful, knowledgeable and respond quickly? Of course. Just meeting a customer’s expectations, with maybe a more positive attitude, will fuel the experience to be better than average. Consistency creates trust. Anything less erodes it!
Think of the brands you trust and why. The product does what it’s supposed to and meets your expectations. The experience is consistent, and the customer service is great. And to emphasize just how important the customer service part of this is, our 2022 customer service research found that 83% of customers trusted a company or brand more if it provided an excellent customer service experience.
If all of this seems like common sense, it is. Unfortunately, common sense is not always so common. So, be a little uncommon. Deliver quality and reliability, manage expectations and create a consistent and predictable experience that gets customers to say, “I’ll be back.”
Image Credit: Pexels
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