Jeff Giagnocavo co-owns Gardner’s Mattress & More and is passionate about Main Street small business success.
A company that focuses on a great customer experience is known to often win the customer, earn market share and find that their referrals grow easily. To do this, companies need to give customers a story to see and be told.
A story to behold means giving customers an incredible in-store and home experience unlike any other major purchase they’ve made. Try to raise the bar above everyone else, not only among competitors, but also all others that your customers can spend their money with.
A story to tell means your customer is equipped with the story to tell their friends, family and colleagues about their experience.
Long ago I learned this important lesson: if you want to create a great customer experience, work on turning the customer into a fan (by giving you a five-star review) and then into a promoter who makes frequent referrals. It is important to have the right pillars to support this experience.
All too often I have found that these pillars are internal to your company; they guide your culture and internal meetings, fine, but these pillars can be both internal and external. These pillars are your purpose, your mission and your values.
A company’s purpose should be the signpost and yardstick by which all communications, actions and efforts are measured. You know you’ve accomplished your goal when the mission supports its calling, and the values dictate the actions and guide the mission’s effort.
How do you communicate your purpose in a connecting customer-oriented way? How can you do this, even if you don’t make the sale, or even if it costs you money to do it, but you’re still helping the customer? For example, we are happy to send free copies of our book on site to those who request it.
To achieve your goal, you need to make sure that it fulfills your customers’ ultimate goal first and that you can make it happen. When you set your goal, be ready to serve only the community that supports your business, even if it doesn’t directly benefit your business at first glance.
A clear goal will never have an impact without a clear mission to support the goal. That’s why your mission statement must have a clear benefit or a strong statement that resonates with and clearly appeals to your customers.
More importantly, your mission should challenge your team to differentiate the experiences they have with each other and with customers. As you work with your team, ask them where they see differentiators that they can own and that they can use to make changes. This gives them ownership and they then control the mission.
For example, I’ve made it a mission to help not only my team, but also our industry to do better. Our purpose keeps our mission on track – we cannot unlock the true potential or happiness if we are the same bad operators as elsewhere, selling only a mattress at a cheap price.
A good first step in identifying your own company values is to ask what actions and qualities are needed on a daily basis to support the mission of upholding your company’s purpose. Some may choose an acronym rooted in the purpose and mission of identifying and aligning your values. I suggest you put them all on the table.
You can align values across department activities, sales, execution, and C-suite, as long as all department values support the mission and purpose. Mission and purpose don’t change between departments, but how we support each other often changes.
Your list of values will likely have similarities, so try to narrow your list down to 4-7 values. Remember that your values, along with your mission and purpose, should become a muscle memory for everyone.
As a leader, it is up to you to guide the acceptance of the values. This is where your team will really join forces. So be sure to get input and feedback as you shape your values into muscle memory for all. Perhaps tackle one value at a time and focus on one department or problem, which can better drive the mission and purpose by believing in the values set out and agreed upon.
A selfless and clear purpose guided by the mission, with values to support the mission, can win more customers, but you may wonder about the connection with the customer and how they speak about your business and others to it refer.
Objectively, five star reviews are recognized by potential customers. When researching an upcoming purchase, they see the number of reviews and the aggregate rating, and they often feel good that this is an objective metric in the shopping process.
But what happens next enters the world of subjectivity: the words your customer uses to talk about your store and their experience with you.
And while I’m not suggesting mind or thought control here, I’m suggesting that you always give your client their story to behold – an experience so wonderful they’ll always remember it. So when the opportunity to refer presents itself, they tell the experience exactly as you would tell the potential customer.
Your purpose, mission and values, when communicated publicly, are your best topics of conversation. These are things you’d say to customers anyway if you were in front of them, so why hide them internally?
Sales, productivity and profits are known to grow when the team internally all pulls in the same direction, so why not let your customers pull with you? What would happen to your business if you and your customers moved in the same direction?
After all, they have the fuel – their word, reputation and money – to move your business forward.
Create a culture where your team is fully committed to the purpose, mission and values, and show it publicly with actions to back up the words and you are likely to deliver great experiences, collect more reviews and significantly increase referrals.