[This guest post is by Chip R. Bell, a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books including The 9 ½ Principles of Innovative Service. His newest book is the just-released Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service.]
Presuming Loyalty by Chip Bell (www.chipbell.com)
Stories about self-fulfilling prophecies are really cool. My favorite is the fifth-grade teacher who was told by the principal at the beginning of the school year that she had been chosen to teach a class of extremely gifted fifth graders. Fact is, her class had been chosen randomly like all the other fifth grade classes. When year-end achievement tests were given, her class outperformed by some large margin every other class for that grade level. Her actions, driven by her belief, caused the students to become exactly what she believed they were.
Attitudes about service are a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. My friends claim I always get great service. It has nothing to do with charm. I simply believe I am going to get great service and believe the service provider wants to give great service and treat the service provider out of that belief. Attitudes about customers are also a self-fulfilling prophecy. To paraphrase Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (a grand study in the concept), the difference between a great customer and a customer from hell is not how he or she behaves, but how he or she is treated.
Sprinkles make a cookie or cupcake special. It is a metaphor for how we treat customers. If we presume customers are really special and we treat them that way, they reward us with their loyalty. Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart was found of saying: “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” And, as an obvious student of the self-fulfilling prophecy Walton also said, “We let folks know we’re interested in them and that they’re vital to us. Because they are.”
So, here comes your next customer. Presume he is eager to be loyal to you and your organization for a very long time. Presume she wants to make a large contribution to your bottom line and your take-home pay. Presume he is anxious to be one of your very best customers. Presume she cares about your success? How will you serve this person? Want a suggestion? Be the source of surprise by putting sprinkles on her or his experience!!