“All politics are local”
As a political science undergrad, this quote of Tip O’Neill’s is one very familiar to me. This new spin on it struck me me this past weekend as I was hitting the local farmer’s market and downtown shops in my hometown Saturday morning. With my fairly intense travel of late, and baseball and soccer taking up my other free Saturdays, it’s been a while since I had a chance to tool around the vendors. What I love about where I live is that as I stopped at the various stalls, I was greeted by name by more than one vendor and all had suggestions for me based on what I was putting into my bag and my past purchases. As my sons and I continued up the street, we stopped my favorite wine and cheese shop. I’ve come to know the owner over the last several years, as he’s grown from a small shared space to his own storefront. He, too, know my tastes, and those of my wife, brother and father. He not only has a recommendation, he has demands (“You WILL take this one home with you, and you WILL come back and tell me what you thought!”). All of this sounds like a typical, albeit fairly boring Saturday tour, yes?
So, it seemed to me that what these experiences all had in common were knowledge of the customer (past purchases, preferences, habits) put to use in specific context (You’re having NY strips tonight? Start with this rosemary-rubbed cheddar and this Pinot Noir just in from Oregon. You’ll really like the peppery finish.) The same can be said of what I consider to be successful business interactions. I recently switched television providers, because over the years i found that both the customer service and the actual service delivery declining. When speaking to my new vendor for the first time, the CSR I spoke with did a tremendous job of diagnosing before prescribing. Based on that alone, I was sold,, but over the next several months each subsequent encounter (a change in the plan, addition of a couple of new outlets) each rep took a moment to review my preferences, make an appropriate suggestion (even though it meant my bill would actually go DOWN!), and confirmed next steps.
Delightful customer service sold me. Consistent follow-through has kept me. Organizations that treat each customer individually, using known information to put encounters into a specific frame of reference, and listen to what customers are saying are the ones that have the highest levels of both customer satisfaction and loyalty. While that seems self-evident, and is certainly backed up by research by CEM vendors and analysts alike. For organizations looking to deliver customer experiences and service that keep customers happy, loyal and advocating, think about treating them the same way your favorite local shop treats you.