Monday, November 9th, 2009
The title of this post is a quote from the French philosopher, Voltaire. It expresses the notion that we must not accept that “good” performance is equivalent to “the best” performance—in fact, they’re enemies.
I’m convinced that most service providers are content to deliver “good” customer service. Their rationale may be based on the assumption that by meeting customers’ expectations, they will create satisfied customers.
Bain and Company, a consumer research firm, has a name for satisfied customers: passives. Passives, as the name implies, are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are easily wooed by the competition. These customers are disloyal, tending to make buying decisions based on convenience and price considerations—as opposed to brand loyalty.
Customers who are merely satisfied are generally the product of company cultures that reward efficiency, such as many fast food restaurant chains and big box retailers. These operations are process-focused, transactional, and pride themselves on product and service consistency from location to location.
Contrast the majority of service providers content to deliver “good” customer service with the rare exceptions that aspire to deliver “the best” customer service. Companies such as Disney, Zappos, Nordstrom, and Lexus come to mind.
Instead of attempting to meet customers’ expectations, these companies aspire to exceed expectations. Instead of producing merely satisfied customers, these companies create delighted customers!
Bain and Company has a name for delighted customers as well: promoters. Promoters are the least price-sensitive, have the highest repurchase rates, and are responsible for between 80 and 90 percent of positive referrals to a company or brand.
Promoters are the product of company cultures that reward excellence. These companies are customer-focused, experiential, and pride themselves in delivering product and service excellence from location to location.
Too many businesses accept that “good” (or, more realistically, adequate) customer service is good enough.
Is your business always the most convenient and least expensive option for the customers you serve? Is it ever? Is your company content to produce passive customers or would you prefer a legion of promoters? Is your company’s goal to be good or to be the best?
There is a clear difference between the two that yields predictable results. Voltaire observed this difference 200 years ago and your customers can see it today.