Without a doubt, one of my favorite things in the whole world are the emails I get from people who've read my books. These are folks I've never met, people whose lives have been changed because of the words I strung together to explain concepts I thought might be useful. It's humbling—providing these types of transformative experiences makes all the tedious work that goes into putting out a book worthwhile.
Why do people take the time to send a message to a guy they've never met? Because their lives have been transformed. And transformation can be the ultimate customer engagement.
But you don't have to be a writer to dole out transformation. In fact, you can do it as a landscaper, an accountant, a restaurateur or a golf pro. In my view, here's what it takes:
1. Being authentic.
It may sound trite, but it's true! If your heart's not in what you're doing, it's going to show. Customers crave authenticity more than ever because so many of our interactions—in person, by phone or via social media—lack that authenticity. We're guarded and we're besieged by blatant attempts to separate us from our money.
When customers encounter a business that's headed by someone who's honest, committed, and focused, we can't help but feel attracted. Authenticity can be disarming, and it's a foundation for transformational customer experiences.
2. Being an active listener.
I'm sure you've heard the saying about why we have two ears and one mouth, but it bears repeating because it's so true! It's so we can listen twice as much as we speak. One of the keys to stellar service is understanding what customers want. And how do you know what they want? You listen!
Ask questions and listen thoughtfully. If you're unclear, consider asking clarifying questions. And when you're finished, restate the customers' answer in your own words to ensure you understand what will rock their world.
3. Creating a narrative.
Storytelling can be so powerful. We often respond to stories, seeing ourselves in the experiences of others.
Part of brand building is telling your company's story, and what makes the story more memorable is for customers to see themselves as part of your tale. Finding ways to meaningfully connect with your customers can help make you part of their story and them part of yours.
4. Delivering solutions to real problems.
The book that gets me the most reader emails is, without a doubt, Profit First. Why? Because that book is laser-focused on solving one single, enormous problem: namely that most businesses fail to prioritize profit.
And that matters to people. Businesses of all sizes, from single proprietor startups to multimillion-dollar corporations, can struggle to become and remain profitable. I saw the problem, and I had a solution. Identifying pain points and relieving them can be a recipe for transformative customer service, for sure.
5. Providing reciprocity.
People can be selfish by nature, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. We survive by finding ways to meet our needs, and we value the people and companies who help us along the way.
When you see the value in your customers and they see the value in you, that's where the magic can happen. Whether you serve a delicious meal to celebrate a diner's special occasion or you find ways to help your accounting customers save money, making a connection between your work and your customers' quality of life can help highlight the reciprocity of your working relationship.
Another reason I love hearing from readers of my books is the opportunity I have to learn from their feedback. Delivering transformative customer service means you don't have the luxury of resting on your laurels. When I hear what matters to my readers—what helped them turn their company around—then I know what's working and what I need to keep doing more of.
Changing customers' lives can be hard work. I believe it takes listening and refining your offerings, along with keeping current on new developments in your industry. Searching for ways to wow your customers can lead to transformative experiences.
Is it hard work? You betcha. But is it worth it? Absolutely.
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