As the Frog owns up to her latest addiction, she offers a powerful message about the business benefit of turning our customers into loyal advocates.
It’s time to admit it. You deserve the truth. Deep breath…
I’m obsessed with Netflix. There, I’ve said it.
Over the last six months, I’ve caught myself mentioning Netflix at least ten times a day. My friend Katie has taken me to one side to have a “concerned” conversation about it. Her husband Nathan now refuses to discuss anything vaguely related to films or TV, for fear I’ll start excitedly chirping about the new addition of Poirot episodes. I’ve cajoled so many people into subscribing to Netflix that Phil - of mother obsession and tropical fish fame – is convinced I’m covertly “on their payroll”. Yep, I’m obsessed.
This personal realisation led me to think about customer loyalty. Where Netflix is concerned, not only have I purchased their wares, but I’m a regularly returning customer who proactively promotes their service to others. I’m a priceless little nugget of gold… even if I do say so myself!
A few years ago I stumbled across the customer loyalty ladder (not literally of course - that would be bizarre). The ladder illustrates the different types of customers that a business will encounter. The aspiration is to “advance” customers up the ladder to a place of long-term relationship, loyalty and retention:
Reflecting on my adventures in Netflix (which sounds far more civilised than “my Netflix emotional dependency”) I realised they’ve moved me up that ladder pretty quickly… and without me noticing!
The fascinating aspect of the customer loyalty ladder is that moving customers “up” works for both the business and the customer. The business is happy because they establish a long-term relationship with customers who’ve become enthusiastic supporters. The customers are happy because, let’s face it, they’re not going to become loyal promoters unless the business is truly meeting their needs.
I used to wonder why my hairdresser had “clients” but the petrol station had “customers”. I always presumed it was because my hairdresser liked to think she was posh. But it turns out she was right… the petrol station has people who pop in occasionally, but often go elsewhere. My hairdresser has dedicated clientele and an established relationship of trust… she has clients.
So, my question for you today is this: do you have clients and advocates amidst those customers of yours?
For help in turning your loyal customers into advocates, please contact Marianne Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week the Frog reveals what can happen to a business when they don't recognise how poor or inconsistent their customer service is.
I've just returned from my local chippy, where I treated myself to a rather lovely cod and chips. I was also lucky (or should that be unlucky?) enough to receive a rather generously-sized portion of customer service insight. Who said you don’t get anything for free anymore!
The chip shop in question is owned by a Mediterranean couple, both of whom have a “bit of a temper”. It’s quite a common experience to be stood waiting while one shouts at the other. Actually, when I say “shout” I mean vehement red-faced screaming. If you’re a Jeremy Kyle fan, you know what I’m talking about. Indeed, I should imagine you’d welcome the experience as entertainment to pass the time while you wait for your chicken & mushroom pie. As I’m definitely NOT a Mr Kyle fan, the whole thing has always made me feel rather awkward… I can only stare uncomfortably at a saveloy for so long before wanting to fling myself in the chip vat to end the misery.
About three months ago I made a conscious decision never to go back. While I’d become impervious to the domestic melodrama, I couldn’t get past the increasingly inconsistent reception to me as a customer. It was a flip of the coin whether my chips would be happily served with a smiling face and jocular discussion, or whether they’d be hurled onto my rissole along with a side-serving of hassled frowns and miserable mumbling. Alas, my rumbling tummy and empty fridge got the better of me tonight… but it did reaffirm my decision never to go back again.
The sad reality is that this business is losing custom on a massive scale. The perplexed owners have tried to diversify and expand their market-reach, but it’s not working… and they genuinely don’t know why. The fact is that their shop is now infamous; becoming the devoted topic of local conversation. Tales abound about how Mr Jones and his sausage-in-batter were treated appallingly, or how Mrs Thomas had the most shocking experience and had to take a sweet sherry for her nerves when she got home. Indeed, local shop woman (from previous blog fame) recently allowed some door-to-door salesman to have a meeting at the back of her shop by the cornflakes, rather than signpost them across the road to the chip shop where they could have sat down with a cup of tea. When I asked her why, she told me “it wouldn’t be fair” on the men to “have to listen to all that cowin’ palaver”.
Unsurprisingly, the chip shop is now up for sale and the ‘lively’ owners remain bewildered about why they’re not making any money.
While this true example is somewhat extreme, it serves as a perfect illustration of customer service without the customer bit… otherwise known as “service”. We’ve all been there, stuck between two checkoutswhile Becky and Shaz - thinking they’re doing you a favour by robotically bleeping your Rivita through the till - shout through you about their debauched Saturday night antics. Taking my order, giving me my change and shovelling my chips into a cone is service. Acknowledging my presence, smiling, giving thought to the experience I’m having, being polite and engaging is customer service. And, funnily enough, customer service is what customers want.
Robert Half (the world’s largest professional staffing and consulting service) pretty much summed it up when they said: “when the customer comes first, the customer will last”.
I wish someone would let my local chippy know. Unfortunately, I’m not brave enough to face the inevitable rage. So perhaps I’ll do us both a favour, make another visit for some more fish & chips and leave a cryptic message in salt on the counter just before I leave…
For support with the improvement of your customer service, drop us a line at email@example.com
This week saw my grandmother’s 80th birthday. And, in keeping with my inimitable skill for finding the best gifts in a haze of panic-buying, I found myself in Tesco an hour before her party; roaming the aisles, desperately seeking ‘the perfect gift’. Fast forward 15 minutes and I was heading toward the checkout.
There’s something quite extraordinary about the moment when I arrive at the tills. I morph into a sniper – stealthily surveying the scene before me...trying to filter the mass of information bombarding my brain rapidly, in order to make a decision. Where to go? There’s only a split second to decide which aisle; after which I have to live...or die, with the consequences. There’s a pressure, an urgent desperation… which checkout to choose and what if I pick the wrong one?
Have I got less than ten items? Yes I do. So, it’s the basket aisle, surely! Nope, I’m a victim of premature relief - there’s someone standing there with 2 turnips, a box of Fixadent and a moneybag full of copper coins... it’ll take too long. Next option? There’s a woman with an entire trolley-full of shopping on the conveyer belt waiting to be scanned or a smallish queue at the self-serve checkout. Which one? I plump for the self-serve.
Next dilemma – three aisles of self-serve checkouts and only one queue...immediately putting me in mind of the Welsh side of the Severn Bridge where traffic from 20 toll booths suddenly merges through chaos into 3 lanes. We’re stood single-file, wrapped around the clothing section. When our time comes, we are to fan out to one of the three aisles. We resemble meerkats; stood to attention, head twitching and turning – making sure that interlopers don’t bypass the queue and make a crafty entry to one of the checkouts.
Surveying my competition, I realise I’ve made the wrong choice. People who hadn’t even parked their car outside by the time I started queuing, are now being served at the basket and conveyer belt aisles! Meanwhile, at the self-serve checkouts, the solitary checkout helper (stoically limping with her arthritic hip) is trying to weave between tills, armed with a magic store card that brings freedom to customers. Every two seconds a light tells her she’s needed – security tagged DVD, bottle of wine, fondue set and a cuddly toy… then blu tack. A conversation starts in the queue about the absurdity of having a minimum age requirement for such an innocuous item as blu tack. A primary school teacher points out it has a similar function to glue and earnestly suggests it could be considered a gateway into to Class 3 narcotic use.
Nearly everyone has an unexpected item in their baggage area, or otherwise not enough items in their baggage area. I overhear poor solitary checkout lady tell a customer that this job has done more for her weight loss than the Cabbage Soup diet did in the 70’s. A woman chatting on her mobile phone is trying swiping her I ♥ Benidorm key ring, confused as to why she’s not getting any points… rumours flood the queue that she has also absentmindedly pulled out her kidney donor card to pay.
Finally I get to a checkout. Result! I have to call over poor checkout lady twice. Once because I need my age authorised (lest I brandish my newly purchased bonsai tree as a weapon) and secondly for a bag… for which I have to part with 5p. Five minutes later, I’m out the other end. I’m exhausted, ready for a valium and a lie down.
Recovering in the car on the way home, my thoughts drift to holidays and the valuable self-serve lesson Tesco could have learned if only they’d taken the time to observe any Brit asked to retrieve their own continental breakfast on a half-board holiday to Majorca. While the Germans like logistical whippets, return to their tables at lightning speed with plates stacked with magnificent food structures that simply resonate ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’; the Brits are mulling around the butter discussing whether it can be trusted. Twenty minutes later, they’ll wander back to their seats with two bowls of dry muesli (because that milk looks “suspect”, like it could be from a goat) and a floppy slice of bread (because they couldn’t figure out how to use that damn toasting machine).
So, what’s the moral of the story? Well, apart from keeping your kids away from blu tack and taking your own milk on holiday, there are several. Primarily, however, it is an interesting reflection on our perverseness as consumers.
There is no doubt we have an increasing and overwhelming desire to do everything quicker, faster and easier. Companies introduce ways and means to meet those demands; yet we’re still not happy. Possibly because our tolerance levels have plummeted in line with our anticipated waiting times… and even then we still demand that it’s quicker, faster and easier.
As consumers pushing for speedier service, have we actually accomplished the opposite… and painted ourselves into a corner in the room of frustration?
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)