You want to create raving fans out of your customers and you can! You do that by creating exceptional customer experiences. Not through discounts, giving away freebies or adding overhead to your business, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m going to tell you how to give wonderful experiences to your customers with minimal stress on your end. But that relieves maximum stress on your customer’s end.
I share a story about how an appliance store made my life so much easier when my freezer died by first giving me the heads-up my fridge would be next and then by offering me a loaner fridge while I waited for my ordered replacement to arrive. They solved the cause of my stress in the moment I needed it. And that’s a key to an exceptional customer experience. How can you make your customer feel seen and how can you relieve some of their stress?
Customer experience that makes the customer feel special, feel VIP, feel understood and valued, that doesn’t come through freebies and discounts. It comes from anticipating the customer’s need and making small adjustments to your service to accommodate it. Maybe you check back in with customers after three weeks of them coming to your gym. Maybe it’s a personal welcome note in a hotel room. I’m going to tell you how actually easy it is to deliver the kind of experience customers will rave about.
01:43 My appliance store customer service story
09:25 How that customer experience worked to alleviate my stress
14:35 An example of a brilliant resort strategy for guest rooms
- What are recurring stress points for your customers that you can alleviate?
- Do your customers feel individually seen?
- Simple things can mean the most, it doesn’t have to upend your whole company.
Resources discussed in this episode:
- Anchored Leadership Academy
- Remember, podcast listeners can get into Anchored Leadership Academy on an early bird rate for the first 20 people to register. 40% off with coupon code ANCHOREDVIP40 at check out.
Contact Kari Lotzien | Be the Anchor:
Kari Lotzien: [00:00:01] Welcome to Be the Anchor, the Podcast. I’m your host, business and leadership coach Kari Lotzien. When the seas of life get stormy, and they always will, it is not up to us to captain anyone else’s ship or to try to calm the waters of the ocean. It’s up to us to set our own destination for what we really want, and to learn how to navigate those waves of life together while finding that place of security and stability with others. I call this being an anchor. If you are a dreamer, a visionary, an entrepreneur, whether you have an idea, big or small, that you think might just make the world a little bit better, kinder, gentler place, you are in the right spot, my friend. We are going to talk about everything from big ideas to mindset and strategy, and sometimes just how to get through the day. I don’t want you to miss an episode, so be sure to follow and subscribe to the podcast so that we can stay connected and keep doing this journey of life together. Thanks so much!
Kari Lotzien: [00:01:10] Hello my friends. I’m so glad you’re here. Today I want to talk to you about creating an exceptional customer experience. But I’m not going to talk to you about creating discounts or giving away a bunch of freebies or adding overhead to your business. The strategies I’m going to talk about today are going to add minimal stress, and are not only going to create raving fans in your business, but they’re also going to make things easier on you and your team.
Kari Lotzien: [00:01:43] I want to start with a story. A few weeks back, I was rushing around in the morning, running late, trying to feed the dog with one hand, load my coffee with the other, and organize some sort of breakfast that I was going to take on the road so I wasn’t late for my meeting. I’m flying around thinking I’ll just quickly throw together a smoothie. I reach into the freezer compartment of my fridge and my hand goes directly into this mushy, gushy, wet, disgusting soup of half frozen fruit and things that were in my freezer. Not the way I wanted to start my morning. And here’s the crappy thing. I knew that freezer was going, I knew that our time was limited with our fridge. We had gone shopping for a new fridge and stove a few weeks back, because both of the appliances were starting to get quirky. The fridge was having issues maintaining a consistent temperature. We knew it was on our way out. But spending money on a new fridge and stove is really not that exciting, and it wasn’t really where we wanted to be investing. So we went and looked and then we procrastinated for another couple of months until this happened. I called our local appliance store who we’ve dealt with before, that was where we had gone and checked out some of the fridges and stoves previously, and I said to him, I need to come in later today, what time are you guys open until because my freezer thawed out.
Kari Lotzien: [00:03:27] Interestingly enough, he says to me, Just so you’re aware, if your freezer is thawed, you probably only have a day or two maximum until your fridge goes too. Note that does not sound like exceptional customer service experience, but I’m getting there. What he did was tell me, okay, he’s saving me from myself. He already knows that I’ve procrastinated for two months knowing that I probably was going to need a fridge and stove, and I didn’t get around to ordering it, and now I’ve got myself into this situation. He’s telling me you can’t wait much longer before you’re going to have a bigger issue than the one that’s already causing you stress right now. I did appreciate his honesty. Now later that day, I changed my schedule a little bit so that I can make sure that I get there to the store before they close so that I can get this stinking thing ordered. With the age of our house and the way that our kitchen was designed, I know that my choices for a new fridge are limited because of the cut out in the wall. So there is only one option for a fridge in this smaller town store that fits into that particular area. And I don’t really like it. So I’m sitting in the middle of the store already feeling a little bit stressed and ticked off with myself. And really not wanting to spend money on a fridge at all and don’t want to spend money on a fridge that I don’t really like and doesn’t have the features that I want. So I’m sitting in the store having a conversation on the phone with my husband about, well, maybe I could order a fridge that I’m not quite sure how long it’s going to take to get here, and I can give away some food. I can move things into the bar fridge that’s in our garage, and maybe this will all work out. Here’s where the exceptional customer service comes in. Sales Guy comes over and says, oh, if you’d like, we can bring you out a loaner fridge. A loaner fridge. I didn’t even know such a thing existed. I said, talk to me about this. He says, well, let me know what your schedule is tomorrow. I can have my guys come out. We can bring you a loaner fridge. It is not fancy. It is not at all what you’re looking for. But it works. It has a fridge freezer. It will serve the purpose. You can have it for as long as you need until your fridge comes in. When your fridge arrives, we’ll take this one out and off you go.
Kari Lotzien: [00:06:11] Exceptional. What happened in that moment was he could have so easily said, well, if you would have ordered the fridge when you were first in, it would be here by now and you wouldn’t be dealing with this. He didn’t. He anticipated that my biggest stress in that moment was I didn’t want to lose all of the food that was already in my fridge, and I didn’t want to spend money on a fridge that, although I could get it right away, was not really what I wanted. One of the services that they offer on all major appliances is that they will take and dispose of your old appliance, so you don’t have to worry about wrecking your back or trying to find someone to help you lift it out. You don’t have to find a truck. You don’t have to take it to the dump yourself. You don’t have to deal with any of that. For a small fee they handle it all for you. This is exceptional customer experience. They predicted what I needed in the moment to reduce my stress: a loaner fridge.
Kari Lotzien: [00:07:41]Once I had that loaner fridge, I wasn’t worried about the delivery window on my new fridge. Because I had something that was absolutely serving the purpose. So they were experiencing a lot of issues with supply chain delivery timelines. Things were delayed. We didn’t really know exactly when things were going to be delivered. He could give me a few week window. But now that I had a loaner fridge, I wasn’t really worried about that. It then takes the stress off their team to not have to deal with someone who’s calling and asking, when is my fridge going to be here? I didn’t call them at all. I knew and trusted they would call me when it came in, so it took pressure off their front line as well to just make things a little bit easier. My fridge came in, we changed it out, ordered a stove as well, so that I learned this time that I wasn’t going to take this for granted again. Notice how timing is everything. This wasn’t something that they needed to offer to every customer or to advertise it. Although I did go back and say, I really want to tell every single person I know about how amazing this was. Is this something you typically do, or is this just because I’m special? Because honestly, it felt pretty exceptional to have such a level of customer service. I thought maybe I was like a VIP customer. He says to me, well, you are pretty special. But no, we do offer this for everyone who needs it.
Kari Lotzien: [00:09:25] Do you see how they were able to create a customer experience for me in my stress, in my frustration, in my procrastination that had nothing to do with offering me a discount. It had nothing to do with them carrying inventory for the product or service that I needed. It had everything to do with solving my challenge in that particular moment and just helping me out. Their customer journey, for someone who’s doing a kitchen renovation, or who’s building a new house and is excited to have new appliances, it might look like a completely different path than what mine did. Knowing who your customers are, what their stressors, what their questions are, and just meeting them in that moment where they’re at. This is another example of where timing is everything. He solved my problem in that moment. For someone who’s looking at building a new home, they might do something around design and remodeling and maybe the top ten things that people need to consider when building a new home that you might not have thought of before. These are little things that just help your customer to go I understand what you’re going through right now.
Kari Lotzien: [00:10:44] Another example. Now this one is the other end of the spectrum. We had the privilege of being able to go to a Four Seasons resort with my husband’s company because he had won a trip. What I love about having these types of experiences with very large companies is I get to see how companies that are doing amazing business who have built multi-million dollar corporations, how they’re doing it. And I almost take it as this little study of business and customer service and how to make people feel seen. I want to share a simple example. We get to this Four Seasons Resort. So we come in a ferry, so there is about 120 people who get off the ferry at the same time, so we’re all checking into the resort at the same time, which can create a huge delay when people are tired and they’re hungry and they’ve had a long day of just getting to this point in their holiday. We’re not relaxed yet. We just left work. We just finished leaving our kids with people and arranging baby sitters and dog sitters. We’ve been through airports. At this point we are not relaxed, grateful, happy travelers. We are tired and we’re a little bit irritable, so there’s a potential that things can go sideways.
Kari Lotzien: [00:12:24] Even though this was a really exciting trip, we were at a stage where we were stressed. They had an assembly line on how to check us in, so we had to find our last name, there was our room key, everything we needed was already there, already put together for us. Then, as we’re going to our room – so this resort is huge, I think there was 20 different buildings that all looked very, very similar. The rooms looked similar. The grounds looked similar. When you’re tired and you’ve never been to a place before, it’s brand new, it can be difficult to just navigate your way to find your room. The room keys now, so that when you lose them, no one else can get into your room, don’t have your number written on them. This is important. As we were going to our room, every single time there was a fork in the sidewalk where we could have taken one direction or another, the resort had placed a person, a real live person. They greeted us and asked what our room number was and then guided us in the direction where we needed to go. This happened probably 4 or 5 times on our way to our room the very first time. We get to our room, we get all checked in, first thing I notice, there’s a nice little handwritten note with our names on it saying how grateful they were that we were there and a little snack. Something sweet and something salty. They had anticipated our needs. Let us make it easy for you to get to your room. Let’s get you checked in. Let’s give you the experience of we knew you were coming by using your name. We’re glad you’re here. And we’ve anticipated you might be a little hungry after a long day of traveling. Here’s something right in your room that gives you a couple of options and now you don’t need to stress.
Kari Lotzien: [00:14:35] It wasn’t until later that night that I saw the true brilliance of the approach of having people set at all of the forks in the sidewalk. Later that night, we go for dinner, we’re a distance from our room, and as we’re going back, I now realize they prevented us from taking any wrong turns on our very first time going to our room. Other thing that they did, they created a system that had us repeat our room number a minimum of five times before we got to our room our very first time. In the evening, I realized that with 120 new guests in that resort on that very first night who were tired, who were in a very large resort where everything kind of looked the same, by having us repeat our room number over and over and over again, it embedded it into our memories. I wondered how many times before they implemented this system did they have people on the first night of their trip get lost trying to go back to their room and didn’t know what room they were in. Which then created stress for the staff. And it impacted the first night of that travelers experience at the resort. It induced stress that maybe they didn’t need to have. And by implementing this very small system, it embedded in our minds what our room number was, and made it more likely that using the signs, we would be able to find our way to our own rooms on our first night without having to utilize the additional resources of the resort and pull those people off of whatever task they needed to be doing late at night when they had less resources, less people working. Brilliant. I also loved that the way that that hotel was designed and the way that their systems operated, they had a lot of people showing up at a certain time.
Kari Lotzien: [00:16:54] You might have this in your business as well. Notice, if you’re a mechanic, do you have a lot of people who show up first thing in the morning to drop their vehicles off? And is that a time where you really want to implement a system that allows for things to be additionally efficient, so that that process is even easier for them? Do you have more resources on hand for people to ensure that they’re getting what they need in that moment? You don’t need to have those additional resources. That resort did not have people sitting at every fork in the sidewalk for the entire day. They had strategically placed them there for a short amount of time when they knew they could invest that resource to preventing challenges later on. It was brilliant. What I want you to take away from this is that, number one, empathy. Anticipate what is potentially causing stress for your customers, whether that is the fridge situation or that they’re tired from traveling, or that they’re upset that they, you know, have had their car break down. Are they nervous about coming to a new place, or how can you anticipate how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking? And can you find a way to verbalize that to them and make their process just a little bit easier? Let them know what to expect. Just like my appliance guy who said, just so you know, you only have two days until your fridge goes as well and now you’ve got a much bigger issue. He was letting me know based on his knowledge and experience, this is what is coming, this is what you can expect. So therefore I knew if I procrastinated any longer, he was giving me a warning what was going to happen that was likely going to make me even more upset. So he was he was protecting me from myself.
[00:18:55] Hi my friends, I want to interrupt for just a second and ask you a question. What would your results be at this time next year if you took time to get really clear on what you want and how to plan, and could take action to move that vision forward? You might be saying things like, okay, so I hired a bookkeeper, a social media manager. I have a virtual assistant, and I thought that delegating was supposed to give me all of my time back, but I feel like I am still in my business answering all of the questions, and I feel like I just can’t give any more. I’m not sure what to do next. This program was designed for you. In the Anchored Leadership Academy, I have given ten modules that you work through on your own to develop the skill of leading well, to take your vision from being all on your shoulders, to really taking it to a team that can implement the next level of your business with you. You’re going to learn how to hire and recruit, delegate well, provide feedback with confidence and clarity, and we’re going to have some hard conversations about where you might be getting in your own way. We are going to have ten live sessions together where you get to meet other business owners who are going through similar things that you are. This program is going to be incredible. I’d love for you to join me. Check out the link in the show notes, along with a coupon code for 40% off for my listeners only. I hope to see you there. Back to the show.
Kari Lotzien: [00:20:36] I want to also just acknowledge how these situations when you implement timing in anticipating what your customer or client needs at this exact moment, prevents future challenges for your team and makes things easier for you. So I want to pull this out because sometimes it’s hard when we think about a specific industry or a specific service, to pull that into our business or our service. So I want to just give you a couple of examples. Things like going to the gym. I think a lot of gyms do a really great job onboarding new clients. So we go through what the check in process is like. We might have an initial welcome process where we go through key pieces of equipment or you know, how to check in for a class. We give people a lot of information at the beginning. But then what I’d like you to do is think a few, it might be a few days, it might be a few weeks. Does your client need change? Do they experience something differently once they have committed or once they’ve started? Do their needs change? This gives you a second opportunity to be exceptional. So let’s just say someone signs up for the gym. We know that there’s a certain level of motivation that keeps people coming for the first week or two. But it usually plummets by week three. By leaning in with a personalized, like the resort, using their name, getting some feedback, How are you feeling? We find a lot of our clients in week three might have new questions, or we find that maybe you’re wanting something different, or you’re finding it maybe a little bit more difficult to get here. We’d just like to let you know, we think you’re amazing. We’re so grateful you’re here and we just want to invite or we want to give you an additional resource or a little bit of information about another program that you might be interested in that we offer.
Kari Lotzien: [00:22:49] This allows your client to have that same experience that I did when I felt like a VIP. I wondered, does everybody get this? Because you’re using my name and you’re making me feel so appreciated. In the second contact or that follow up, this is where you can absolutely up level your customer service experience because most businesses don’t do this. Let’s talk about even a massage business. If you have chiropractic, massage, physiotherapy, any service-based business where your client comes to you sometimes when they’re injured or they’re in pain, we know that when we’ve solved that initial problem oftentimes people stop coming. If you have a system or a process that says someone comes to us with an illness or an injury, we anticipate that they’ll come 3 or 4 times before that injury is resolved, let’s create a system where someone from our team touches base with that person to say, hey, we’re just following up wondering how your shoulder is feeling. We want to make sure that we’re preventing further injuries. I’ve attached a little handout on some stretches to just make sure that you’re you’re continuing to stay really healthy. Do you see how incredible that would feel? You feel seen. You feel appreciated. But it also invites you to stay top of mind in your customer’s experience so that when they’re not in stress or feeling that pressure of, I need your service immediately, now you’ve invited them into a different type of relationship where they might look at something different.
Kari Lotzien: [00:24:38] For example, with my appliance store, once they solved my fridge issue I went back and I ordered a new stove. It was much less stressful because I had a stove that was working. It was a different experience, but they were able, through their exceptional customer service the first time, to invite me into a second relationship in that customer service experience. This type of intention with your processes will take you to a whole other level of satisfaction with your customers and revenue. Other ways that you might consider this, so just a couple more examples, if you’re a mechanic and you have that drop off in the morning where a lot of people are dropping off their vehicles for service, things like having a shuttle service available to take them to work can take pressure off your team because it doesn’t impact your customer’s day as much. If they’re taking time off, which is maybe why they’ve procrastinated or they haven’t got their vehicle in to get their winter tires put on, or to do that oil change to do that maintenance, if you can take that pressure off and say, oh, well, we can run you to work, no problem. What time’s your lunch break? We’ll come back and pick you up and your vehicle will be done. That can take pressure off your team, because now if they’re running a little bit late, they don’t have a customer who’s now staring down your receptionist wondering, you said that my vehicle would be 47 minutes, and now it’s been an hour and two minutes, and I have another appointment that I need to get to. It just takes the pressure off. By having really good internet with an easy login, so that if you have customers who are in a waiting room, they can still do some of their work, they can check their emails, you’ve got good coffee available for them. These are little things that just make your customers feel seen and appreciated, and it makes their experience with you just a little bit easier.
Kari Lotzien: [00:28:44] I think timing is the biggest piece of this. Whether it’s following up after an injury, if you’re a massage therapist, whether it’s helping someone find their way to their room as a tired traveler, whether it is anticipating the needs for someone whose appliance shuts down. Whatever it is, it’s thinking about what do they need right now and not necessarily delivering everything all at once, but doing it in a nice step by step approach and creating a system for that. The beautiful thing is that every one of these examples, if you follow the thread, reduces the pressure on the business itself. And I’m going to point out not one of these systems talks about offering a discount. It doesn’t talk about carrying more inventory, offering more products or service. It’s just a matter of empathizing in the moment.
Kari Lotzien: [00:29:43] I want to finish up with the most simple way that you can uplevel your customer service experience that you can do so easily. By just smiling and greeting someone by name, and I’m not saying looking at their credit card and then mispronouncing their name, but if this is someone that you’re anticipating who’s coming for an appointment, by sincerely saying good morning, asking how their day is going and using their name in a natural way, it allows people to feel seen. And I think this is one of the most beautiful things about being in a small business, is we have the opportunity to both make money and build business and revenue and support our communities, while allowing people to feel appreciated, seen, and thanked for doing business with us. I think we’ve lost some of this in the last little bit, but it is the simplest way to come back. If you’re coaching your receptionist, your frontline staff, whatever it is, or if you are the owner of a large company, if you can come in and greet one of your key customers by name, or introduce yourself and then use that person’s name back and just thank them for their business, this will absolutely grow your business. It will grow your revenue and your profit line. And it’s so simple. It’s the simple things that can really change how this all plays out. I want to thank you so much for being here. Make sure to like and subscribe to the podcast. Share it with someone who is building a business and is looking for key ways to just help make this whole thing even more exceptional, and to add to the passion they already have. Thanks so much. We’ll see you next week.