In order to deliver a stellar customer experience, a company must first be customer-centric. Last week I wrote on the nuances of customer service and customer centricity in “Why Great Customer Service Isn’t Enough to Be Customer-Centric.”
For those who are not reading my every post with rapt attention, I used the HARO (Help A Reporter Out) service to put out an APB for customer-centric companies to learn from. If you haven’t heard about HARO, it’s a fantastic network of news sources and journalists.
My inbox was pelted with 12 emails with good customer service stories, but not a one with a deep customer-centric foundation.
But lucky number 13 caught my eye: Company Folders.
An online business that sells exactly what its name claims: folders (and much more).
What can I possibly learn about customer experience and customer trust from an online company that sells folders you might ask?
Let’s take a step back, look at some data first, and then we’ll review the lessons.
The Two Ways to Build Customer Trust in Your Company
One aspect of customer centricity is building brand trust in the eyes of your customers. There are two ways to build trust:
The first is to have flawless service delivery. You and your employees have to be perfect all the time.
Second, and obviously more realistically, is the way in which your company responds if mistakes happen (which they inevitably will).
In our PeopleMetrics customer engagement research, we saw that the 80% of customers who had good problem handling agreed or strongly agreed to the statement “I trust that [company] will make it right.” For the unlucky customers that received poor problem handling however, only 46% agreed or strongly agreed to the same thing. This shows that the way a company responds to a problem will either create or destroy trust.
A Real-Life Example of How to Create Customer Trust from Company Folders
Check out this perfect example of that principle in action.
An employee of Company Folders received a notice informing them that because of an error with their shipper, a client would not receive their folder order in time for an important business event. Some employees might have chosen to ignore this information, hoping the problem would go away. Others might have called the customer to inform them of the delay, perhaps apologize. But, this employee did something many wouldn’t have thought of. This employee reprinted the entire folder order and then raced to get the materials shipped overnight, at no cost to the customer. The folders arrived in time for the event.
What the CEO Has to Say About This: Trust Begets Trust
“I don’t know everything and cannot do everything, so I have to trust the people I hire,” says CEO and founder, Vladimir Gendelman.
When you trust your people to do the right thing, they generally do.
He went on to say, “In order to encourage my employees to be awesome and do the best possible job, I allow them to own their area of expertise.”
Because of the way the company responded and averted what could have been a disaster for this client, Company Folders received a glowing customer testimonial and most likely a customer for life.
What Can You Learn From This
To build customer trust you have to start by trusting your people. If Vladimir’s employee didn’t have the authority to re-run and re-ship the folders, they would have arrived too late for the event.
Thankfully, the employee received an alert about the shipping issue. But for every alert there are probably dozens more customer problems that aren’t coming to light. Imagine being able to recreate Vladimir’s story multiple times. A Voice of the Customer (VOC) program is one way to do this. It’s possible by investing in a real-time online feedback and reporting system where you are alerted to customer problems as they happen. By investing in VOC software you can forward the issues to the appropriate people and enable all of your employees to be as awesome as Vladimir’s.