This has been (one of) my motto(s) in 2020: build customer experiences so amazing even your customers who aren’t a good fit end up loving you.
I had a call once with a customer who was struggling to use my company’s product. This was an on-the-brink, about-to-cut-ties kind of call — but as we were talking through options, he adamantly said: “You guys have been f***ing amazing.”
That’s stuck with me ever since. The product didn’t work, but the people did — for him, relentlessly, to the point that he had an amazing experience even though he had to drop the product.
When you’re wholly focused on giving your customers an awesome experience, you’re increasing the likelihood of their success using your product.
But even if it doesn’t pan out, the indicator of whether or not you did your job right is whether or not they enjoyed working with you.
Think Comcast vs. Chick-fil-A. Everybody hates working with Comcast (at least, everyone I’ve ever met does). And Comcast doesn’t care about whether or not you succeed using their product — or at least, they don’t make you feel like it. Nothing about their company is designed to make a customer happy.
People use Comcast because they have to, not because they want to. They need internet, it’s the available option. They bite the bullet.
But everybody loves Chick-fil-A. Customers love the experience as much as the food — the friendliness, the quick service, the customer-centric mentality. Everything about the way it’s set up — from the quick drive-through times to the chronically happy employees — makes the experience better.
People don’t go to Chick-fil-A because they have to. They go because they want to.
There’s a distinction here, because it’s easy to get misled down an ego-driven road of seeking customer approval. Wanting to be the coolest customer service rep ever is a false compass. Pandering to your customers to buy you their favor is not an effective strategy.
Being respected for being good at what you do is more important than being liked. Respect implies you’re doing a good job. Being liked implies people enjoyed the experience of interacting with you.
The ideal is to hit both.
Be the point of contact for a customer who really listens, and understands what they need. Be the person who goes out of their way to find possible options to make things work. Be the person who empathizes with their needs, and frames every interaction around what’s best for them (not around company policy, the product’s intended purpose, or anything else they don’t care about). Be the person who’s quick to respond and always makes them feel like they’re your first priority. And be the person who’s pleasant to interact with, always.
A product isn’t going to be the best fit for anyone, and some people will still end up cutting ties. But if they do, make sure they know you went to bat for them and that, in seeking a solution, every possible stone was turned. And that their best interest was always the compass.
That’s the stuff that builds a powerful brand.