Sunday, March 18, 2007

 

Defining "The Extra Mile"

A lot of companies talk about going “the extra mile” for their customers. But I’d venture to say that very few of those companies, let alone their employees, know exactly what that means.

Making sure the product works, answering a customer question, solving a problem – those are all "table stakes" in my opinion. Customers expect that the product will work, that we will adequately support the product, and that they will see success with the product.

So, going the “extra mile” means doing more than is expected. But what does that mean? If you ask your company's front-line staff to go the “extra mile” for your customers, would they have any idea what to do?

You may very well find as many definitions for “extra mile” as you have employees.

What if you helped define “extra mile” for them? What if you gave every employee (specifically your front-line, customer-facing employees) a set of “extra mile” opportunities they are encouraged to proactively offer every customer they come into contact with?

It doesn’t have to be a complicated list, but could be things like:

* Sending a hand-written “thank you” or “congratulations” card
* Offer a sample or free trial of a new product
* Follow-up with the customer (via phone or email) after a couple days to make sure their issue is still resolved adequately

There will be many more ideas you can add to this list, specific to your products, business and/or industry. Your goal would be to put this in front of every employee, and empower them all to do any of these, for any customer, at any time.

Sometimes going the "extra mile" is about instinct - understanding exactly what each customer needs, and addressing that need at an individual but meaningful level. But in general, it's far easier to go "the extra mile" for your customers, when you've been able to pre-define "extra mile" options.


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