The Wow Customer Service Factor

Posted on 11/01/2007 in Customer Service & Support

"Just having satisfied customers isn't good enough anymore.  If you really want a booming business, you have to go beyond satisfied customers and create 

raving fans.”  -Ken Blanchard (Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service)

Outstanding customer service builds loyalty and customer retention, and will improve your bottom line. It does little good to make a sale if your company or organization cannot service your current customers. Take an extreme example: Suppose that your sales force succeeds in bringing in new customers, but customer attrition equals the rate of customer acquisition due to poor customer service with existing clients. In spite of the sales successes, you are destined to lose money and eventually go out of business, unless you improve the level of customer satisfaction.    

Three Zones of Customer Satisfaction 

The backbone of your customer service strategy and culture consists of three zones:   

  1. The Service Surprise Zone (what we call the "Wow Zone”) is when you exceed your customer’s expectations. You should strive to "wow” your customers, especially your key accounts and prospects.
  2. The Service Expectations Zone is when you meet your customer’s expectations. At a minimum, your organization needs to identify and then meet the critical needs and expectations of your customers. As such, the ability to ask questions and to listen for the customer’s concerns and issues, are critical skills.
  3. The Service Recovery Zone is when you don’t meet your customer’s expectations. This zone is a moment of truth. Handle it well and you can actually strengthen the customer allegiance. But, if this is handled poorly, you run the risk of losing customers.   

Customer Service Statistics

Many customer satisfaction surveys, from a wide range of industries, show a common pattern in terms of how customers react to situations when they are either "wowed” or dissatisfied:  

  • An extremely satisfied customer will typically tell 2 to 5 other people or organizations about their positive experience. In other words, a "wowed” customer will provide unsolicited referrals of business for you. 
  • An extremely dissatisfied customer will tell 5 to 20 other people or organizations about their negative experience,and encourage prospective customers not to use your company’s products and services. This creates bad word-of-mouth and damages your reputation in the marketplace. 
  • The majority of extremely dissatisfied customers (as many as 90%) will stop doing business with your firm without letting you know that they are leaving. As such, it is a double negative if you don’t respond well to a Service Recovery situation. You likely will lose the customer and that same customer will tell other prospective customers not to use your company or products.  

Although the exact statistics listed above may not pertain to your company, the three general principles do.   

The "Wow" Customer Service Factor

There are many ways to "wow” your customers.  

  • Be pro-active about communicating with customers, especially when you become aware that a problem (such as a delayed shipment) may occur; call the customer to advise them of the problem and offer some solutions or options.
  • Follow-up with customers even when there aren’t any problems; for example, call or email a customer that you haven’t spoken with in awhile.  

You should strive to be in the Service Surprise Zone whenever possible. We realize that everyone has become increasingly busy, and it may not be practical to "wow” every customer. If you have to be selective about "wowing” customers, your customer service strategy should focus on "wowing” these three categories of customers: (1) Key accounts, because the loss of a key account can have a severe effect on profits and sales goals; (2) Growth accounts because of their longer-term sales potential; and, (3) New accounts, because you want their initial impression of your company to be favorable.