This review first ran in the May 26 edition of The Hamilton Spectator.
Portfolio / Penguin
The manager of the Hollister store at Limeridge Mall in Hamilton won over this grateful dad and would make her mom proud.
I was there to replace my daughter’s new t-shirt. The colours on the red, white and blue shirt ran the first time through the wash.
I brought the accidentally tie-dyed shirt back to the store to make sure I bought the right replacement.
When I got to the register with debit card in hand, the manager didn’t get a lecture on how to wash clothes. She apologized that the quality of the shirt didn’t live up to my expectations or Hollister’s standards. She then exchanged the shirt at no charge. No receipt? No problem.
It was what Jeanne Bliss would call a make mom proud moment. Called the godmother of customer experience, Bliss has led the customer experience at Land’s End, Coldwell Banker, Allstate, Microsoft and Mazda and is the cofounder of the Customer Experience Professionals’ Association.
“We need to take how we are treating customers personally,” Bliss writes in her book Would You Do That To Your Mother. “Thinking of our moms at the end of our decisions helps to get us there. That’s why I suggest you imagine her in moments when you’re making decisions or taking personal actions. The image of her, of what she’s meant to you and what you’ve learned from her, can be a powerful and instant reality check. It can make us pause.”
So picture your mom as a customer, client, student or patient where you work. Here are eight ways you can make her proud and win over the people who keep you in business.
Honour your customers’ time and their clock. “Would you give your mom a four-hour window in which you might show up for a visit?” Don’t expect your customers’ lives to revolve around your schedule. At Amazon Prime, the entire customer experience is built around answering two questions. Do you have what I want? And can you get it to me when I need it? Shorten your service windows and move faster.
Take the monkey off your customer’s back. “Would you make your mom do work to get good service, which you could have easily done for her?” Don’t force customers to take on extra work themselves to resolve an issue. You should be doing the heavy lifting.
Don’t leave customers in the dark. Proactively communicate for peace of mind. When something doesn’t go according to plan, give customers the heads up before they start calling and going on social media. And then keep them updated until the problem’s fixed.
Allow for graceful departures and leave the door open for future returns. “Would you charge your mom a penalty for cancelling her subscription with you? Or would you take the opportunity to learn why she’s leaving and thank her for her business.” Keep your customers with outstanding service and value rather than contract terms and “gotcha” clauses buried in the fine print.
Make it easy to get help. “Would you put your mom through your phone tree before solving her problem?” Make it quick and effortless to get your attention and assistance. Your ready availability will reflect how much you really care about your customers.
Stop the customer hot potato. Quit bouncing customers around to different people and departments. Adopt a one-company mindset so that whoever deals with your customer can resolve the issue.
Fix the paperwork rigmarole. Communicate in plain and simple language. Say more with fewer, less complex words. “Write your communications like you’d write a letter to your mother.” Reduce the redundancy, number, duplication and complexity of forms. Deliver understanding instead of jargon and piles of paper.
And finally, spare your customers from having to repeat themselves, provide the same information and answer the same questions over and over again. “Would you make your mom keep reintroducing herself to you?” Show that you know and care about your customers by delivering relevant, personalized experiences.
Do these eight things for your customers and there’s a good chance you’ll turn one-off transactions into long-term relationships.
“To put this in the simplest terms, do you deliver pain or pleasure? Do you make it easy and a joy for your customers to do business with you?”
Through 32 case studies, Bliss shows how companies are treating customers with the same care, attention and respect they’d give to their own mothers or for a dad who’s pulled a ruined shirt out of the wash and needs to make things right with his daughter.
@jayrobb serves as director of communications for Mohawk College, lives in Hamilton and has reviewed business books for the Hamilton Spectator since 1999.