A Perth, Australia, teenager Matt Corby posted an image of a less-than-a-foot-long Subway Footlong. The image that circulated around the web last week showed a Subway FOOTLONG® measuring only 11”. The article posted on BuzzFeed.com suggests that legal action could be possible for false advertising; I will leave the legalities of the less-than-a-foot-long sandwich to the legal people. But the lesson that I take away from this situation is the importance of delivering on promises that you make to your customers.
So is 1in really that significant? Yes, in fact it is, because Subway made it important. The product name and all of its related advertising suggests that the sandwich is 1 foot (12in) long. They created this expectation with their customers and customers expect them to deliver. A similar example is Little Caesars Pizza® that advertises their $5 Hot-N-Ready pizza. A customer who has to wait for a pizza that is advertised to be both hot and READY is going to feel let down by the company.
As a small business owner it is critical that you deliver on the promises that you make to customers. If you say your product has a shelf life of 1 year you need to make sure that it will last for at least 15 months to account for climate variation. If you promise a response within 24 hours you need to respond within 18. Exception customer service creates loyal customers, always under promise and over deliver.
How do you ensure that you are over delivering on your customer processes?
- Develop Realistic Policies & Procedures: When you are the everything for your business or operating with only a small staff official policies and procedures often sit on the proverbial ‘to do’ list and never actually getting done. Make this task a priority, start by listing all of the commitments that you make to customers and determine if those promises are realistic and sustainable. If they are write them all clearly and concisely and communicate to all of your staff what the expectations are. If they aren’t revise your promise so that you can not only deliver on your promise but exceed what you promised.
- Monitor Internet Chatter to Address Service Issues: People are 10x more likely to share bad customer service experience than a good one and social media has become the most common place to rant. You need to stay abreast of these posts and address issues head on. Do what you can to turn the negative experience into a positive. No business is perfect and issues will inevitably arise. However, someone who has a complaint handled properly can become a loyal customer and brand advocate.
- Always Put the Customer First: It sounds simple, and truly it is. If everything that you do in your business is done with the customer in mind you will not only deliver but exceed expectations.
What extraordinary customer experiences have you had? What’s the worst customer experience you have had? How did the company handle it?