I love that people read lots of business books to improve what they do. And that they then reach out to accomplish the goals that are set by their reading experience. But books sometimes make simple things complicated in order to make larger points.
I have to preface this by saying that I have not read the book in question, though I know and like the authors, and am sure that there are positive messages there for salespeople. But this agent was stuck because he was having difficulty translating the book’s message in action and executing the process of turning his clients and customers into raving fans.
This is a smart agent – one who wants to do better on purpose – by working thoughtfully to improve, not just by doing the same stuff over and over again. And that made me want to answer his question – and to correct his initial premise – that people need have an external index in order to appreciate the service they receive.
The key to understanding how people view service is understanding first what their expectations are. When we go to McDonalds or Subway for a sandwich, we expect quick service, a clean environment, limited food choices, and low-cost. When we go to Pat’s or Geno’s in South Philadelphia, we expect to stand in a line outside, waiting for a brusque order taker who is impatient if we don;t use the correct language when we order. And when we go to Smith & Wollensky, we expect polite waiters, elegant place settings and food prepared specifically to our order, whether what we want is on the menu or has to be done by accommodation.
Each place brings with it its own set of expectations, and as a result, its own opportunities to fail, meet , or exceed those expectations. So if the Manager at Subway offers to bring the food to our table so we don’t have to wait, or the place is exceptionally clean and pleasant, or if they stop by to ask if we’re enjoying ourselves, we may think, “Wow, this is a really great Subway – I want to come back here again!. While a failure to cater to our whims at the Smith & Wollensky leads us to think poorly of the operator of that location, and to feel negatively towards the chain.
I recently had dinner at an upscale seafood restaurant after a day of shopping. A friend and I each ordered lobster – one with stuffed crab, and one plain. My order arrived and was incorrect. We were relaxing and chatting after shopping at the mall, so I just sent mine back to be corrected without a comment. The manager (without my asking) was at my table almost immediately, apologizing for the mistake, explaining that he would take my lobster off the check, and asking for my address so he could send a gift card to the house to further compensate for the error.
Now this wasn’t the best seafood place I have ever eaten (though it wasn’t bad) , but it was, far and away, the most proactive customer service I had experienced in a chain restaurant in years. And, as a result, I’m now a fan of the company. The manager made me a raving fan because he exceeded my expectations.
It’s that simple. All you need to do , to provide all the referrals a customer can provide, to earn their undying respect and loyalty is to exceed their expectations. And you do that in a very simple way that is not a try-hard, or self-absorbed. You merely under promise and over deliver. Read that again with emphasis “under promise and over deliver” .
You set the expectations of a buyer or a seller when you discuss what you do for them, and how the process works. We’re not magicians or show people – we don’t need to make the difficult process of home buying or home selling look easy – we just need to make it as easy and stress free as possible. Therefore, why not let the client or customer know that problems and pitfalls that can be faced, the difficulty you might have setting and confirming appointments, the amount of inventory available for them to review, the difficulties of having strangers go through their house, the vagaries of obtaining financing (from both ends of the transaction) and on and on and on…Set their expectations to the potential abnormalities of any real estate transaction so that they recognize when you have exceeded them by over delivering the service that you provide on their behalf.
In the final analysis, it isn’t what you do that makes people raving fans – it’s what you do, compared to what they expected you to do, that makes people appreciate your efforts, and that is where your attention should be, not on any experiential index. With that focus, raving fans are inevitable….