When I ask business owners what it is that they are selling, I am always told about their product or service.
Unfortunately, most businesses make the mistake of thinking that if they have a good product or provide a good professional service it is enough, customer loyalty research however clearly shows that it is not enough.
If you think selling is all about the product or service this is a HUGE mistake.
Selling is all about how you make your customers feel, it is the FEELING that you are selling, not just the product or professional service.
Customer loyalty research shows that customers rarely talk about the product or professional service they talk about what is top of mind and it is always feeling based for example they use words like friendly, helpful, trust, communication, professional, prompt and efficient.
Delivering a 10/10 customer experience is all about selling a feeling and this feeling must then be backed up by the product or professional service you are providing your customers.
For example, we have worked for many years with a company that sells engines but our research shows that hardly any customers just talk about the engines, even though this is a significant expense, they talk about trust and then go further to explain that they always give the right information, their service is always prompt and efficient, the team is always friendly.
Not to step over that the product or service you sell is critical, however it is the feeling that you sell and that your customers experience that generates loyalty.
In the context of customer loyalty research and the Net Promotor Score methodology
Promoters – customers who score a 9 or 10 out of 10 are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fuelling growth.
Promoters are present to the feeling you are selling and as shown in the above example the feeling is translated into language and this is what they share with their friends and colleagues.
Passives – Customers who score a 7 or 8 out of 10 are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
Passives are present to the fact that you have met their expectations through the product or professional service you have provided BUT they have not experienced a feeling and therefore are at risk of churning and are not actively sharing their experience of doing business with you with others.
Delivering what your customers expect is not selling a feeling you need to understand your customers point of view, how they would like to feel, what they want and deliver on that.
Restaurants have an amazing opportunity to sell a feeling from the moment their customers call to make a booking through to the moment they leave the restaurant. In most cases restaurants pride themselves on the quality, freshness, presentation, and meals that are cooked to perfection and the variety of their meals.
The food is great right BUT it cannot just be about great food.
It is the warm greeting they received when they called to make their booking, it is the atmosphere, it is the welcome they received by the host on entering the restaurant, it is the personalised interaction with the wait staff, it is the wonderful expectation created by the wait staff when discussing the meals and that first mouthful of that meal that melts in their mouth exactly as they were told it would and it is the overall customer service provided in every moment, the service must be great too.
Each and every business no matter what industry you are in or what product or professional service you provide has the opportunity to sell a feeling. What feeling are you selling?
What 10/10 experiences have you had?
I encourage you to think about some 10/10 experiences you have had. What was the feeling you experienced and how did you share that with your friends and colleagues?
And think about what experiences you have had that have left you with a passive response, the product or professional service provided has met your expectations BUT something is missing, I bet you it’s a feeling.
I recently had an amazing experience with a professional services company during the COVID pandemic and lockdown. This I use this company as a key resource for my business so when I was contacted and told they were committed to supporting myself, my business and my team through the financial mine field of Job-keeper and other Government grants available I felt extremely grateful, relieved, well taken care of and I acknowledged that this next level of service far exceeded my expectations. To my dismay however, at the end of the process I received a bill, this bill was not expected or had there ever been a discussion that I would be charged for this service.
Clearly, this has created a negative feeling, all the good service I received and the feelings associated have been stripped away as a result of this experience and this professional services company made a bad profit decision.
As Fred Reichheld says in his book The Ultimate Question “Whenever the customer feels misled, mistreated, ignored, or coerced, profits from customers are bad. Bad profits come from unfair or misleading pricing. Bad profits are about extracting value from customers, not creating value. When sales reps push overpriced or inappropriate products onto trusting customers, the reps are generating bad profits. When complex pricing schemes dupe customers into paying more than necessary to meet their needs, those pricing schemes are contributing to bad profits.”
Bad profits are those profits that might increase revenue but at the expense of the customer experience.
To understand more about good and bad profit, read one of my previous Blogs Good Profit vs Bad Profit
I was on a plane once and the flight attendants were serving drinks, the lady sitting in the row in front of me ordered a bottle of water. The flight attendant served the bottle of water whilst saying here is your Mt Franklin 2020 and gestured the handover as you would receive a bottle of wine. It seemed like a nice touch for a moment until I heard her say exactly the same thing to every customer who ordered a bottle of water, word for word, right throughout the plane. I thought it was a shame, what had seemed like a personal and playful interaction lost its specialness and became a part of the transaction.
It is important to give your employees the freedom to naturally express their version of the feeling you are selling rather than creating verbatim service standards and training teams in transactional behaviour.
Transactional behaviour is never about selling a feeling.
However, on another flight through a different airline I was sitting in the front row and as I had boarded early, I watched as 135 people, (yes I counted them) board the plane to a warm and friendly greeting, yet not one greeting was consecutively the same.
Each customer was greeted with a personalised greeting that provided a warm and friendly feeling BUT each time the flight attendant used different words.
We must trust that our employees will add their own personal expression whilst delivering the feeling we are selling.
Last example, I promise.
Whilst working with a supermarket many years ago, there was one lady who the supermarket highlighted to me saying they would like to let her go, because her scan rate was lower than other employees.
I took the time to observe her and to my surprise I noticed she had the biggest line of customers waiting to be served BUT that those customers had chosen to stand in her line, they could have easily gone to other lines that were moving quicker BUT they chose her.
As I watched I realised those customers chose her because of the feeling she created for each of those customers.
Whilst serving them she chatted to them, knew then by name, asked how their day was going, referred to the last time she had served them and remembered the conversation all the while scanning their purchases and at the end of the transaction she held eye-contact and told them she was looking forward to speaking with them again next time they were in the store.
The difference was that she created a personalised feeling rather than a transactional one.
The supermarket only had a scan rate as a measure of productivity nor had they taken the time to observe her, they had no idea the value this lady was creating for their business and for their customers.
It’s important to have your aces in the right places and back up the feeling you are selling with your product or professional service.
Did you know that most woman demonstrate better service related services because they can show empathy.
Customer experience and generating customer loyalty is all about selling a positive feeling.
What feeling are you selling?