Are you amazing your customers?

I recently watched an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” a popular program on the Food Network in which the show’s host travels across the United States looking for “undiscovered” eating treasures. In all instances, the restaurant’s owner offers surprisingly delicious food in an environment that’s friendly, with attentive customer service the norm. Customers always rave about the food and the experience, often with the same description: amazing.This made me think about how much a business could learn from these small, out-of-the-way businesses. Think about having customers rave about you and your product because you’re happy to do business with them.Let’s look at what these small-business owners offer their customers: an unexpectedly great product, in an environment that’s friendly with the owner and staff treating customers with warmth and appreciation – in other words, exceptional customer service.Take a minute to rate your business in these three categories. How did you do? With the business changes we’ve seen over the last 18 months, it‘s no longer business as usual. Business as usual for most businesses has meant everything from elaborate marketing campaigns to “just doing it the way we’ve always done it.” Somewhere along the line, we lost focus on the basics of doing business in the first place — finding and focusing on our customer. Look at the products and services you sell. Are they surprisingly great? Are you delivering value? Are you delivering what you say you will? Do you ask your customers what you can do to improve? And most importantly, do your customers feel valued and appreciated?Back to basicsI recently read that one of the main reasons customers stop buying from a business isn’t because they didn’t like the product or thought it was too expensive. They stopped buying because they felt no one cared about them. That’s something you can change that costs nothing to fix, but costs plenty if you don’t. Examine the buying process for your product or service from the customer’s perspective. Really focus on it. Start with the first contact and walk it through to the point when the product is delivered. Are you a customer-centered company? If you are, your customers feel appreciated and cared for. If you aren’t, you still have work to do in your process.How do you stay in touch with your clients after the sale? When was the last time you conducted any kind of training on this topic for your employees? (You do train your employees, don’t you?) If you are a solopreneur, are you following a system to keep customers happy and returning to buy your product? Are they continuing to work with you because of how well you treat them?In the “back to basics” mindset, customer service is creating an experience for the customer, whether they’re buying online, in your building or over the phone. Your customers today want what customers wanted 10, 20 or 50 years ago — to be valued.I adopted the customer service philosophy of sales training guru Brian Tracy years ago, and it means more than ever today. Think of delivering customer service in several levels:• Meeting expectations — Here’s the foundation. Without this, you’re in trouble.• Exceeding expectations — Here’s where customers start to get excited. It’s the “oil change that includes a free car wash” kind of experience.• Delighting customers — This is where you start to separate yourself from the competition. It’s a “sending your customers home with an umbrella when it’s raining” experience.• Amazing your customers — Here’s the WOW factor, when customers wouldn’t dream of doing business with anyone else. It’s “your favorite bottle of wine chilling and waiting for you when you arrive for your dinner reservation” experience. You’re in the midst of the world’s greatest when amazing your customers is part of your customer service plan. You’re one of a kind in your customer’s mind.Take the time to renew your commitment to your customers. Find the WOW customer service opportunity in every contact with them. It’ll be an amazing experience!Janine Parsons is a professional business coach, catalyst and managing member of Radical Results LLC, Portsmouth. She can be contacted at or 603-750-3141.