Addressing 4 Key Areas Designed to Turn Prospects into Advocates
What if you knew the exact formula required to create advocates, raving fans, walking billboards, brand champions and evangelicals for you and your company? That would be one valuable formula, wouldn’t it? Well, by reading First Break All the Rules, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman you would discover that, according to Gallup research, there are four levels of customer expectations. Thoughtfully – and consistently – meeting these expectations can deliver a WOW factor that will convert potential customers and clients into raving fans.
Let’s get right to it. Here are levels 1 through 4, in ascending order of importance:
1) Accuracy; 2) Availability; 3) Partnership; 4) Advice/Learning
I’ll unpack them for you and illustrate what each level might look like from the customer’s point of view.
This information can apply to any industry and since it’s safe to assume we’ve all been out to eat at a restaurant, I’ll use dining experiences as the example. Suppose you owned a restaurant and committed to concentrating on these 4 levels of customer expectations. In doing so, here’s how you might think of their respective roles and – subsequently – focus your efforts.
1. Accuracy: You’d want your hosting staff to provide accurate wait times at the door. Getting guests’ food orders right – like desired meat temperatures – would be paramount. And strict recipe adherence would be emphasized in order to provide a consistent experience for returning (and referred) guests.
2. Availability: This might start with a web site that’s easy to find and navigate. It should offer online reservations and prominent placement of your phone number. An easy-to-find physical location with ample parking would be fundamental to your success. You’d have enough inventory to support your menu, with special regard to your most popular items. You’d have sufficient personnel on hand. Employees would be good at “reading” guests and recognizing that certain look on a guest’s face when he’s in need of something. They’d be right there to accommodate … before the guest felt the need flag someone down. Why not offer a menu to peruse – and perhaps even something to nibble on – to guests in the waiting area?
3. Partnership: You and your staff would demonstrate an “I’m on your side” approach to customer service. Servers would follow through to make sure guests are pleased with every part of the process. They’d remember the names of their regulars. And when things go sideways, staff would go into service recovery mode, displaying a sense of ownership and empowerment to quickly make things right. You might ask regulars to participate in focus groups, to shape future menu formats and service guidelines. You might even name a few menu items after your regulars, as a way to honor them. Now that’s partnership.
4. Advice/Learning: Why not offer cooking classes and wine pairings? How about a cooking tip of the day, or “insider” restaurant secrets guests could subscribe to? My longtime friend – and the chef/owner of Chef Tony’s in Bethesda, Md. – pairs his cooking classes with follow up efforts to see how attendees are applying their new skills at home. Talk about creating customers for life!
Prioritizing your efforts
You should know that, while accuracy and availability are important (after all, they are 2 of the 4) as bestselling author Dan Pink said of these first two levels, when I interviewed him on my TV show, “… the absence of them is a problem, but having them is not an advantage.”
Focusing even more of your time on levels 3) partnership; and 4) advice/learning will provide more of a human element/experience and most likely pay the greatest dividends.
Read back over the restaurant examples above and imagine how these efforts would make you feel if you were a guest …
It’s all about a feeling
When it comes to creating remarkable customer experiences, I recommend thinking in terms of the feelings you’re evoking in your customers and clients. Imagine leaving them feeling, 1) like you’ve thought of everything; and 2) completely taken care of.
Focusing your efforts on these 4 levels of customer expectations should have you and your team well on your way to producing these feelings; emotions that are so powerful you’re likely to turn prospects into … advocates!
How are you demonstrating accuracy, availability, partnership, and advice/learning in your company, with your prospects and customers?