In part 1 (of this 3 part series), I shared the three customer types – Apathetics, Advocates, and Assassins – and how each one views and interacts with your business. I also challenged you to begin considering ways in which you might engage with your customers differently. Keep working at it. It will take time and energy, but it will yield good fruit.
If you haven’t read part 1, I encourage you to. You can find that post here.
Something to Say
When I shared the three types of customers, I mentioned that two of the three types will want to talk about you, Apathetics being the only exception. They really won’t have much to share, since you really didn’t do much more than meet their baseline expectations. And that really isn’t worth writing home about.
Advocates and Assassins on the other hand, they will have something to say, maybe a lot to say. It used to be that these customers would share their experiences through more conventional means – sharing their story with friends and family, telling their neighbor, or in conversation with coworkers around the water cooler – but now there is an easier and faster way to spread the word. Enter social media.
A New and Improved Megaphone
The internet, and more specifically social media, is the ultimate megaphone. Thanks to social media, Advocates and Assassins now have access to literally millions of people with just a few keystrokes, a short video, or even just a picture of your business with an emoji next to it. The effort required to make their joy or displeasure known is ridiculously small, especially when compared to the good (or damage) it can do, and the speed with which it can do it.
What’s more, social media enables the spread of these messages through shares, likes, and other forwarding methods, instantly putting these stories in front of countless people you don’t even know. Especially if the message is particularly amazing or scandalous. All of this puts an incredibly potent tool (or weapon) in the hands of an Advocate or Assassin, further emphasizing why the importance of working to create a positive customer experience cannot be overstated.
Take for example, the following experience. In November 2019, Diana Chong, a regular at Bagels 101 in Long Island, stopped in for a bagel before leaving to visit friends in Pennsylvania. Chong left her car running while she purchased her bagels. Her car had an automatic start feature, so she wouldn’t need her keys to drive to Pennsylvania, but she would need them to restart it for the drive home. The same keys she had inadvertently left on the counter at Bagels 101 as she drove away. Chong made it all the way to Pennsylvania before she realized her keys were missing. She called Bagels 101, and the manager, Vinny Proscia, offered to ship the keys. When they determined that the keys would not arrive in time for Diana to drive home for work on Monday morning, Vinny made the decision to drive the keys to her. Google Maps calculates the distance as 189 miles one-way. Three hours with good traffic, six hours roundtrip. Vinny made the drive, and the story was later posted on social media by Chong’s sister. It quickly went viral and was ultimately picked up by the Today Show and other major news outlets.
The above story is remarkable for multiple reasons, but it’s only part of what happens on social media. It’s awesome if you’re fortunate enough to have an Advocate tooting their horn for you, but what are you supposed to do if you become a social media mark for an Assassin? How are you supposed to fight that? And if others start hog piling, then what?
For starters, fighting it may not be a great solution. If you come at it confrontationally, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Even if you have a dozen solid reasons why the customer is responsible for at least part of the situation, you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone else of their guilt, let alone convincing the customer. You are the proverbial Goliath to their David. Additionally, if you begin retaliating in a public forum, you start to become the villain that they’ve made you out to be from the beginning. Instead, try empathy. Try seeing the situation from their angle. Try to move the conversation offline and, if possible, deescalate it. Don’t engage in the debate, instead seek resolution. A simple apology and an expressed desire to rectify the situation, while it may feel insufficient, sometimes goes a long way. And in all cases, less is more. Maybe you say nothing at all. It’s important to recognize when no amount of reparations will bring peace.
You may not be able to convince an Assassin of your innocence or good intentions, but, with luck, and assuming you’ve been working to create Advocate customers, your Advocates may come to your defense. Another reason that it’s so important to keep your customers at the heart of your efforts.
Revisiting the story above about the bagel store manager. Some of you might be thinking that it’s not so much a customer experience story as it is a good Samaritan story. One person helping another person who, in this story, just happens to be a customer. Maybe. But isn’t that the point? Why do you want to improve your customers’ experiences? Is it to create or strengthen your differentiated value? Is it to attract more customers? Is it to garner advertising through word of mouth or social media?
Chances are, it’s all those things and more. Helping people is at the core of every business transaction. The only real difference is the length you’re willing to go to help someone or to enhance how you already help them. In part three, I’ll talk more about what this looks like in practice, but, in the interim, keep working on creative ways to help your customers.
A Note About Park Industries & Customer Experience
At Park Industries, we strive to create exceptional customer experiences. It is through this continuous effort that we have learned a great deal. We are pleased to be able to share some of these learnings with you in the hopes that you will find the information valuable and are able to use it to enhance your own customer experiences.