By definition it means given, or felt by each other toward the other, as in mutual respect, or corresponding, matching, complimentary, equivalent. It’s an adjective, so it conveys action. And why is it important? Because in business, as in everyday life, it can mean the difference between success and failure. It’s about letting your customer’s know, through your actions, that they are important to you.
As a personal example, I have started bringing coffee in for some of my co-workers on Friday mornings as a sort of “we survived another work week” celebration. I get the coffee at a Starbuck’s that is a little bit out of my way (yes, I know there is usually one on every corner) but this one is not along my usual travel route. The reason I go to this one in particular is because the barista’s at this location have made it a point to remember my name, my usual order, and they even put smiley faces on my cup! Now, it may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it makes me, as a customer feel like a VIP, so I am a loyal patron there every Friday morning. The point is, making a customer feel special doesn’t necessarily involve some grand complex gesture, sometimes it simply means answering the phone with a smile, or remembering a person’s name without having to ask twice. These are small gestures that can go a long way towards eliciting a positive response from the receiver, namely, developing a long standing relationship with a client or customer.
Not Only Meeting, But Exceeding Expectations!
Many of us are familiar with the company Zappos, at least most women will be. They are an online store that specializes in shoes and clothing, and they have become extremely successful the past several years, despite the fact that they do very little advertising. The key to their success? Word of mouth. I personally learned about them through a couple of friends who had made purchases, and both told me that they were pleasantly surprised by the expedited shipping, with items being delivered within a day or two of purchase. In fact, Zappos often gives surprise free upgrades to overnight shipping for customers, though their website reports that delivery will take two to five business days. Talk about under promising and over delivering! Another noted example of their stellar customer service was when a woman called to return a pair of boots for her husband because he died in a car accident. The next day, she received a flower delivery, which the call center rep had billed to the company without checking with her supervisor. It is examples like these that explain why Zappos has become so successful, and why 75% of it’s business is from repeat customers.
The moral of the story may seem obvious, but in a world where most individuals have an abundance of options when it comes to purchases, these examples show that sometimes even small kindnesses matter, and that even one small act of goodwill can mean the difference between a one- time purchase, or gaining a customer for life.