Truly customer-centric organizations have customers' best interests at heart at all times. They often show this by taking a proactive approach to meeting, or surpassing, customers' needs and expectations throughout the customer lifecycle.
One company that embraces this tack is Polygon Northwest. According to Steve Martorano, director of customer services, the real estate developer does this not only to satisfy customers today, but also to build long-term engagement that will encourage referrals and repurchase. Unlike most competitors, for example, Polygon offers a 3-year warranty (versus the standard one year) and promises a 10-year structural visit.
During a presentation at NACCM, Martorano shared five ways to build short- and long-term customer engagement:
Pay attention: The most valuable resource you can give customers is your time. Listen to them to uncover their real needs. Only then can you find a way to solve their problems or meet their expectations. Treat the cause, not just the symptoms.
Demonstrate integrity: This starts by being positive, respectful, and confident at all times. Most important, however, is to do the right thing, even if it adds time to the process or cost to your company.
Neutralize hassle: You can only do this by taking the customers' point of view. Avoid company-speak like, "This is not our policy." Instead, plan for potential issues, and then plan how to work through them.
Offer a "plus one": Provide customers with an unexpected extra benefit. It should be unique, thoughtful, and relevant to both your business and your customers. Martorano calls this "driving home the flourish."
Be proactive: Uncover problems before customers call you by proactively checking in with customers. This automatically adds value to the relationship because it's not required. It also reassures customers of your trustworthiness. And, it allows you to act on new information.
Why do all this? Says Martorano: "You want customers to say you are totally unbelievable."