Be More Ordinary.

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I’ve just reread “Effortless Experience” by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman and Rick Delisi and suggest the lessons they offered six years ago have yet to be learned by many businesses which is a great shame as they’re simple, obvious and highly effective. I’m going to pick on one in particular – stop trying to wow customers.

Yes, you read that correctly, stop trying to wow customers.

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Most of us will have read stories of so called, “Legendary Customer Service” such as “Joshie the Giraffe” – a soft toy left behind by a guest at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel who was returned to the little boy along with an album of photos of Joshie by the pool, in the spa, dining in the restaurant, etc. It’s a great story and when I first read it I thought “Wow”. But on reflection, seeking to deliver this sort of service is not only costly but sets up an unrealistic expectation for future customers. Indeed, I bet that every day people leave things behind at Ritz Carlton hotels all over the world and at best they’re just simply returned and often they’re not as the owner can’t be identified.

Instead I suggest, and the research behind “Effortless Experience” confirms, you focus on doing the ordinary things consistently well, (make that extraordinarily well), thereby raising the average experience rather than seeking to blow away the occasional customer but leaving the rest feeling underwhelmed.

Take our 50,000 mystery shops for the Best Estate Agent Guide last year. Of the 25,000 web leads, each with an individual contact, email and phone number, 47% of sales enquiries and 58% of lettings went unanswered. If that wasn’t bad enough, (it’s appalling), of those that were answered it took 1 hour 55 minutes on average – that’s aeons in web response terms. 12% of phone calls made during “working” hours went unanswered and in separate research carried out by Reapit, a third of all callers data isn’t captured or entered onto the CRM system.

These are the areas you should address as your priority, making sure that prospect clients receive a brilliant “first touch” experience. Rather than attempting to deliver occasional superhero service, instead focus on the basics – always answer the phone, reply to email leads within 5 minutes, answer the questions asked, do what you say you’re going to do. As this graph highlights, customers tell far more people about their poor experiences than their exceptional ones, (which is a massive shame but that’s how it is). By focussing on eliminating mistakes, delivering the basics well and raising the bar on the everyday things your reputation will be enhanced far more than pulling the occasional rabbit, (or even giraffe) out of the hat.

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