Build Trust and Sell Your Customers Anything

Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO

Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO

While recently at Toronto’s Pearson airport, I read a Fast Company article on how Airbnb is going to expand on their end to end hospitality experience. By offering additional services to their home and apartment sharing service, Airbnb will be adding airport pickups, room cleaning and other services to complement their core business which will inevitably increase their revenue and value.

This lead me to think of other brands that began selling a single item who now sell us more than they originally advertised.

Amazon began their humble operations in the 1990’s selling us books out of a garage. A young, motivated Jeff Bezos lead his enterprise to a company that now, almost literally, sells us everything.

A more recent example is Uber: the transportation disruptor that offers a solution to a pain point which is the traditional taxi experience. Many of those that have used Uber have become addicted to their service and experience. Uber’s recent round of venture capital from Google Ventures and TPG at $258MM can only give us optimism that they will also inevitably expand their operations to offer other services.

Note: Something will happen with Uber and Google’s self-driving car. I can only imagine, and hope, that if I want my laundry delivered, I will use the Uber app and a self-driving car will deliver it to me without having to leave my home.

Now, a company offering additional services isn’t worth a blog post. The only reason these companies are able to offer other services to grow their business is because they have earned the trust of their customers with their flagship offering.

This lends itself to journalism as well. Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher developed a loyalty with their readers by providing value when writing for the All Things D website. When they launched Re/code it was, from my perspective, an immediate success.

The customer experience coach and keynote speaker in me will tell you that the only way to build trust is by delivering an exceptional, consistent, predictable and memorable experience.

Having this trust gives you an advantage far beyond increased revenue. This leverage not only allows you to expand your business and add new verticals, but further puts you in a position of power against your competition. It erects barriers around your business.

When it comes to branding, it builds a sense of peace of mind with your customers that no branding expert or designer could ever create for you. It’s psychological.

Allow me to be bold (or least think I am) when I say this next statement:

You haven’t earned the right to cross or upsell your customers until you’ve built trust first.

When you’ve earned trust, you will have your customers eating out of the palm of your hand. Too many companies have customer acquisition backwards. Rather than hunting for new customers and revenue opportunities, emphasize on building trust first and watch your company grow organically with the customers you already have.

What is your company doing to build customer trust?

How to Turn a Complaining Customer Into an Asset

complaints

It is human nature to react when a customer complains about your service or product, particularly if the customer expresses anger, frustration, disappointment or hostility. I’ll cut right to the chase: effectively handling complaints requires most of us to shift our way of thinking. We need to set our egos aside and view a complaining customer as an opportunity to better understand our customer experience and be open to change.

Every company needs an effective system for dealing with complaints to ensure your customer service system is top notch. Sure, you may have a system in place, but is it helping improve your customer experience or simply putting out fires?

Ensuring your customer service team understands the difference between a complaint and a personal attack is the first priority. The customer almost always is complaining about a failed product or service, not the failure of the individual he is speaking to about the problem. Still, customers can be challenging to speak with, and downright unpleasant at times. How your customer service team responds, such as communicating the process they will undertake to resolve the complaint, should give the customer peace of mind and demonstrate that the organization genuinely cares about resolving complaints.

Another shift in thinking could be viewing complaints as positive – blessings in disguise – since they can illuminate where your service or product needs improvement. When a customer complains, thank them for bringing the matter to your attention and giving the company the opportunity to improve the product/service. Of course, you’re not likely to make a significant change to your product or service after just one complaint. However, complaint number one is a good time to start gathering more data month over month to see if other customers are saying the same thing. Listen to your customers! They are the end users and often know your service and product better than you do.

If a customer complains, have you lost them forever? Absolutely not! In fact, resolving your customer’s complaint quickly may earn you higher customer loyalty than if the service or product delivered correctly the first time. We can all relate to the experience of complaining to a company, but not having a timely response, or worse, having our complaint be rejected always reflects poorly on the brand. All that marketing you do to increase customer acquisition is wasted by not figuring out how to protect your brand and increase retention.

Ask yourself, “Does my company spend as much on retention as they do on acquisition?” I imagine that they don’t.

One missing system in most organizations is that there is no set service level agreement (SLA) to escalate and resolve complaints. Not having a SLA for this will result in a fragmented process that has no internal goal which ultimately affects your customer’s experience. Go out and set your SLA’s for complaint management.

One thing you do not want to do is simply reimburse or discount the customer who is complaining without taking any other actions. It’s easy to throw money at a problem and hope it goes away but this is not what your customers are looking for. They are looking for you to make things right in an operational way as well. Your customers are looking to hear what actions you will take next to ensure that it’s unlikely that the same issue will arise. Let the customer know what you are going to do about the matter along with the financial compensation they may be looking for.

“Mrs. Johnson, I greatly apologize for the inconvenience we have caused. As promised, I will be reimbursing you for the amount you suggested. Equally as important, I will be speaking with our customer service representative that provided the incorrect information to you as I feel there is a great learning and training opportunity here…”

Do this to not only give the customer peace of mind that you are doing your very best to ensure their concern doesn’t resurface, but to show them you would appreciate another chance to rebuild their trust. I can tell you first hand, customers love this!

Everyone wants to be heard. And we can all appreciate acknowledgement of a wrongdoing and a strong effort to make up for that mistake. So I encourage you to embrace complaints! Buried within them you may find your diamond in the rough: the areas where you need to re-evaluate your service or product to ensure you’re not only meeting customer expectations, but exceeding them.

As business professionals, we all recognize that we need to manage our customer complaints. But, when will be put as much effort into customer retention as we do acquisition? At my past employer, we were able to reduce system wide customer complaints, in a franchise model, by 33% in three months by creating a process which helped us understand our customer aversions.

Properly listening to customers negative feedback can make them an asset and help grow your customer intelligence.

Let’s ensure our expectations as consumers is aligned with what we deliver as professionals. In other words, if you’re going to demand that a company responds to your complaints immediately you better do the same within your business.

How to Avoid These Four Customer Loyalty Obstacles

obstacle

I don’t think I need to convince you of the importance of having loyal customers to support your business. Customer loyalty influences organic growth (repeat purchases and word of mouth marketing) which can be the most profitable way to grow a business. However, some companies may never achieve customer loyalty because of four key reasons.

1. Not accurately identifying your loyal customers

Who are your most loyal customers? You must be able to answer this question in order to better understand how to achieve true customer loyalty. Many businesses may have an idea who their most loyal customers are based on intuition but you need data to support this. Once you have identified who your supporters are, you can then begin to understand what their desires and motivations are.

2. Discounting doesn’t provide 100% loyalty

Your most loyal customers are supportive to your organization because of quality, not because of a discounted price. Often, customers will pay a premium for a superior customer experience rather than a bargain rate. Consumers that focus their attention on price can often be lured away by another company that is providing a lower price. The price game doesn’t earn true customer loyalty.

3. Trying to make everyone loyal is a fools game

You must accept the fact that not everyone will be loyal to your brand. Trying to make everyone loyal will test your endurance and may negatively effect your morale as you inevitably find that this isn’t possible. If you’re familiar with the Net Promoter System, customers who rate your service or product a 7-8 (passives) are often customers who aren’t loyal. Although, you always want to stay focused on your entire customer base, paying particular attention to detractors (those that give a score of 0-6) and promoters (9-10) will be more valuable to your organization because they highlight your strengths and your weaknesses.

4. Not being able to think long term 

Growing a foundation of customers who are genuinely loyal to your brand can take years. Those who are able to think long term will be able to make strategic decisions which will support their organizations growth for years to come. To achieve customer loyalty, make decisions in the short term that will positively effect your long term customer initiatives and programs.

 
The 28 Traits of Organizations Who Are Customer Experience Titans

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