A Chinese proverb advises, “Don’t open a shop unless you like to smile.” For millennia, business owners have appreciated the power of a smile to improve sales. Allow me to take some liberty with ancient wisdom and add to that, “Don’t work in customer service if you don’t enjoy making other people smile.” Employees that truly care about delivering smile-worthy experiences radiate genuine happiness at work; their natural enthusiasm attracts new customers and engages long-term customers. Here at PeopleMetrics, we call these employees Brand Ambassadors. In addition to flashing authentic smiles at every customer they meet, Brand Ambassadors provide unparalleled service— the kind that can only be delivered by someone who truly cares about a customer’s happiness, the kind that leaves customers raving and sales figures booming.
In this era of scripted customer service, it’s natural to be cynical. Aren’t today’s customers too savvy to fall for that old “service with a smile” schtick? As it turns out, no. Our research shows that, through stand-out service, Brand Ambassadors endear customers, thereby growing customer engagement, which, in turn, is connected to a slew of bottom-line indicators including share-of-wallet and ROI.
What distinguishes the kind of service that Brand Ambassadors provide? Our research into the brands with the highest Customer Engagement levels reveals that Brand Ambassadors:
- Demonstrate high Emotional IQ. They tune into the customer’s emotional state, respond appropriately, and discover solutions that benefit both the customer and the company.
- Treat customers like friends or even family. A Brand Ambassador greets customers by name and remembers details that may have come up in previous interactions.
- Provide Authentic Service. Customers can spot a fake smile a mile away. A genuine smile is a rare thing these days—it’s something that customers will remember and return for.
As an example, consider Steve Wynn's story about an amazing bellman at one of Wynn's Vegas resort casinos. As an older couple was checking in, they realized they'd forgotten their medication at home. Because the husband was diabetic, missing their medication would mean ending their vacation. After making arrangements with and reassuring the couple, the bellman actually drove back to their house (a four-hour drive!), picked up the medication, and had it back at the casino in time for their 7:00 a.m. required doses. You can bet that couple will be extremely loyal customers going forward. And they probably shared their story with plenty of friends, attracting new business. But the Brand Amabassador bellman's influence didn't stop there. His dilligence spread through the rest of the organization, inspiring his fellow employees to seek out their own opportunities to help casino guests.
In the end, today’s customers are looking for more than the best product at the lowest price. They have plenty of choices when it comes to finding inexpensive, functional products and services. That’s why the modern key differentiators is the customer experience. Brand Ambassadors create an exceptional experience that exceeds customers’ emotional and functional needs.
Every company has Brand Ambassadors. The problem is that so many fail to find them and unleash their potential. Recognizing and learning from these individuals can set the standard for customer experiences. When employees are encouraged to imitate the best, excellence becomes contagious in the organization – an imperative for anyone concerned with building a truly customer-centric culture. As more and more employees become full-fledged Brand Ambassadors, Customer Engagement rises, and business outcomes improve.
The challenge is that no two company’s Brand Ambassadors look alike. Every company is unique; there is no “one size fits all” solution as far as the customer experience is concerned, but your Brand Ambassadors know how to deliver the perfect experience for your customers. A Voice of the Customer solution is the best way to spot the people in your company building valuable customer relationships. Imitating the employees that customers love guarantees that your steps toward customer-centricity will align perfectly with what your customer wants.
PeopleMetrics’ Voice of the Customer solution sends a special Recognition Alert when a customer praises an employee by name. Too often, companies only notice what employees are doing wrong, and fail to capitalize on the excellent work of Brand Ambassadors. PeopleMetrics’ Recognition Alert is a good indicator that you may have a Brand Ambassador on your hands—and once you’ve identified Brand Ambassadors, you can study their performance , train other employees accordingly and make excellent customer service contagious in your organization.
[Steve Wynn video: via Tony Robbins]