On the road to achieving market growth, there are different strategies that are usually followed: reduce costs, improve processes, and innovate! None of these strategies on isolation will deliver growth without your ability to truly meet and exceed client expectations.
Now, exceeding client expectations is not something that can be done on the side while you conduct your general business. It needs to become a priority for your company. It needs to become part of your company’s DNA and culture. So where do you start?
1. Understand what “customer” and “service” truly mean for your organization:
The best starting point to make customer service a priority comes from the book: Raving Fans, by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. The book lays the ground work required on the road to market growth, starting with the idea of defining your service vision – what truly differentiates you from your competitors in this area. Focusing on your service vision will give you insights on whether your company’s culture truly aligns with customer service.
If you define your service vision and you find yourself using the same words and meaning behind your existing vision, you are on the right track. If the service vision and the company’s vision/values are radically different, there is a lot of ground work to cover before customer service is truly a priority in your organization.
The goal of a service vision is to achieve the always welcomed raving fans; that group of clients who cannot stop talking about how great your company is. As usual, your service vision cannot be a set of empty words; its ultimate purpose is to create raving fans.
2. Measure your ability to attract and keep raving fans:
Now that you have a service mission, the ground work is set, you need a way to measure whether you are gaining or losing raving fans. Your best guide on this step on the road is: The Ultimate Question 2.0, by Fred Reichheld and Rob Markey. This book focuses on a system called Net Promoter Score.
Before we go into explaining more about Net Promoter Score, there is an important detour here to talk about metrics. Most of the time you can get a feeling for what portion of the market are (or aren’t) your raving fans. But unless you can measure it, track it, and tie changes on your metrics back to defined organizational initiatives, you are flying by the seat of your pants.
Now back to Net Promoter Score (NPS). The true revolution behind NPS is its simplicity: remove your lengthy surveys and replace them with 2 simple questions:
Question #1: On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend <this company or product> to your friends and colleagues?
Question #2: What is the primary reason for your score?
Question #1 allows you to separate your clients in 3 categories:
- Detractors will give you a score between 0 and 6. They are not happy about your service, company, and/or product; hence, they will talk negatively with their friends about it.
- Passives will give you a score between 7 and 8. They are not unhappy, but they won’t openly talk with their friends about your service. If the competition comes up with something better, they will switch.
- Promoters will give you a score between 9 and 10. These are your raving fans.
Your Net promoter score then becomes the percentage of clients that are promoters minus the percentage of clients that are detractors. The closer the number gets to 100%, the closer you are to your goal of market growth.
Question #2 is what allows you to target specific changes within the organization to achieve higher client satisfaction, all while following your service mission. This is the hard part, but listening and following up on your client’s feedback is what will truly set you apart. No one can tell you what needs to change within your organization better than your clients. Follow thru!
3. Not all raving fans are created equal, find the right mix and develop a community around them:
So far so good, you have a service mission that is part of your company’s DNA, you are tracking on a regular basis whether you are gaining or losing raving fans, and you have actually found a good recipe for gaining and keeping them, what is next?
Not all raving fans/promoters are created equal. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is an excellent book and one of the best descriptors on how to achieve that elusive change that allows you to reach market growth. It has many great insights, but I’ll focus on its definition of the “law of the few”, those people with important social gifts that will take your company’s message beyond its current boundaries, potentially making it a “social epidemic”. He categorizes these key few as follows:
– Connectors are the type of people who know large numbers of people within the community and enjoy making introductions. If one of your promoters is a connector, they will likely talk about your company to all their friends directly or through social media.
– Mavens are information hubs. They accumulate large amounts of information about a specific product or market. If one of your promoters is a Maven, he or she will be the one that knows by heart the list of services you provide and the less known features about your product.
– Salesmen are charismatic people with that indescribable trait that goes beyond what they say, making others want to agree with them or copy them. If one of your promoters is a Salesman, you know there will be people around him/her trying to duplicate what he/she does.
Why are these categories important? You need a good combination of these influencers within your list of raving fans in order to create market momentum or a “tipping point”. For example, if all your raving fans are Mavens, they will have the knowledge about your product or company but they will not share it with anyone else. The same way, a group of just Salesmen or just Connectors without Mavens won’t achieve the same depth in the message as having that information hub.
Take a look at your list of raving fans, the actual people buying and talking about your product or service. Who are they? What do they do? How do they communicate? Are you missing any key categories? How do you make raving fans in areas where you are lacking? How do you truly wow them so that they take your company’s message beyond its current boundaries?
But that is not enough, there needs to be a community around them. A series of activities that allows them to talk between themselves and feel like they are part of your organization and have a say: round tables, community forums, fan pages … The community channel will change, depending on your organization’s type, but the goal is the same: get your raving fans to talk between themselves and allow them to feel they are a part of your organization.