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PORTER: The gold standard: Recommending a business to your friend

Good customer service is getting tougher in the digital age. More channels. More choices. And more competitors.

Companies keep upping their game. And they are constantly improving the service — and their social media — that they provide to customers.

How good does your customer service have to be these days? Aside from general ratings, what additional indicators should you be measuring when you ask for customer loyalty feedback?

Turns out there are two good questions you can ask customers to gauge how good your service is today. And I have found them to be good predictors for long-term customer loyalty.

Question 1: Likelihood your customer would recommend your company to a friend?

Customer experience? Yep, that needs to be measured. Great apps or service features? Ditto. Good value for what you paid? Yeah, that too.

But when you dig a little deeper into that major customer account of yours, what can you find out about where you really stand? Is your business relationship with them more than just skin deep? Is there a compelling reason for that customer to keep doing business with you over the long haul?

Finding out your customer would recommend you to a friend or business colleague is a key indicator of great customer service. Such a response is also a predictor of long-term loyalty.

In writing my first customer service book “Quest for Loyalty,” I was surprised at how often businesses told me that although they might give a company good customer service ratings, they would not necessarily recommend that company to others. They reserved that honor for only the best customer service businesses.

Question 2: Does a customer plan to do business with you again?

Even though a company buys your product or service once — or even a few times — how likely are they to plan to buy from you again? Although they may not be making a buying decision right now, do they plan to buy from you when decision time rolls around?

Giving a company high marks in general doesn’t mean they are guaranteed the business every time. Businesses bestow that honor sparingly, but when they do, it’s another accurate predictor of a long-term relationship — and the “gold standard” for top customer service.

So before you assume you have the best customer service around because your customers give you high marks in brief online surveys or in anecdotal remarks, make sure you dig deep.

Remember, customers reserve their long-term allegiance to you only when they can answer affirmatively to questions with a deeper meaning — questions that reflect the broad arc of the total customer relationship — value, partnership, quality and other related areas plus the day-to-day dealings with each other.

Would your customer recommend your products or services to a friend or colleague?

Does your customer plan to do business with you again?

Go ahead and ask your customers the two gold standard service questions. And work hard to get a positive response to both of them.

 

William Porter has published books on customer experience and employee engagement and speaks regularly at business schools. Contact him at bpwilliamaporter@gmail.com.

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