How one simple change can transform your customer service

“A satisfied person has no story to tell. Everything went just as expected. It is the unexpected event that makes a stay memorable. For every loyal customer, there is usually a special story.”

I was a young MD, in my first year in charge of Naked Wines in 2013. I needed results. Mainly because I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, so a few (or just any) scores on the door were needed.

So I started ferociously reading business books to get ideas.

And luckily I stumbled across one of the most simple, yet profound business books I’ve ever read.

As soon as I implemented what I learned, it changed our company culture overnight.

Thanks, algorithm gods. 

 

The book is called ‘If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 1/2 Things You Would Do Differently’ by a guy called Fred Lee. Fred was a healthcare executive in the US, and wanted to find out how to improve patient experience at his private hospital. So he spent time at Disney — the most polar opposite environment to a hospital imaginable — to find out about how they delight their customers.

The big take-home of the book is what Disney did with their customer satisfaction surveys. Yes those pesky things are everywhere these days, but when you actually use the data you might find absolute gold in there — like I did.

At the end of each stay, Disney would ask their customers how they’d rate it out of 5. And they found that customers who rated their stay 5 stars were six times more likely to book again than those who rated it just 4 stars.

And the big difference between a 4 and a 5 star stay — back to the quote at the start of this piece — is that it’s memorable.

“When you can’t remember anything, you are satisfied. It takes something memorable to turn an ordinary, satisfactory experience into something special. Either something happened that you remember as bad, or something happened that you remember as special. Dissatisfaction comes from the bad. Loyalty is generated by memorable things that happen that we didn’t expect.”

 

I thought that sounded interesting, so I dived into the data at Naked Wines.

At the time we also surveyed our customers after each interaction with an agent on a 5 star scale. But we incentivised our agents based on ‘positive feedback’ — 4 and 5 stars.

The data told me that 5 star customers were twice as valuable as 4 star customers — they stayed longer, and bought more. Bingo.

So we made changes to the target immediately (oh the joys of running a lean and nimble startup).

Mainly by giving our agents the freedom to deliver a memorable, 5 star experience with every interaction.

Simple things, like a hand-written card if a customer told us they were unwell and wouldn’t be drinking wine for a while. Or a bottle of fizz if a customer got a new job.

And some special things started to happen…

  • Our 5 star service shot up from 65% to 85% in four weeks
  • Overnight our agents become the real heroes of the business, when everyone suddenly realised they could create value, not just minimise brand damage
  • And we’d celebrate wildly every time a customer would get in touch or post on social saying they were blown away by an amazing act of service.

All for the price of a book on Amazon.

We were already paying people, so over the years we created millions of pounds worth of extra value… for a tenner.

Naked turned into one of the best customer service teams in the UK. With a bulging trophy cabinet to prove it.

Oh and one last point — some bright spark pointed out that ‘customer service team’ sounds about as dull and unmemorable as a 4 star experience.

And so the Customer Happiness Team was born.

 

I’m starting over at WineSpark, bringing everything I learned in the UK to make world-class wines accessible and affordable to Irish wine drinkers. What are you doing lately to delight your customers?

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