How To Create Happy Customers By Following One Simple Rule
I wrote a blog post a while back about saying yes to opportunities more often and how it can lead to a more fulfilling life. I believe saying yes (a lot) is also a key component of great customer service.
I fly Southwest Airlines often and a while back they had an awesome slogan on every napkin given out with a beverage or snack. It said “In a world full of no, we’re a plane full of yes.” I love that for a couple of reasons. First, the phrase usually rings true in my experience with the airline and second, the slogan is an integral part of making sure your customers are happy and satisfied.
People hear the word “no” all the time. I realize there are many times this response is necessary to prevent us from hurting ourselves or keep general order in the world. This is not the kind of “no” I’m talking about. It’s the thousands of times we hear the word no from an employee, business, or organization when it would have been just as easy – and appropriate - to say yes.
I worked in the golf and hospitality industry for 26 years and the facility I managed was a big operation that gave us many touch points with our customers. It was not uncommon for us to see 300+ different people every day. They were there to have a good time, so we received all types of requests that may not have fit perfectly in our policies and procedures manual. Every time we thought we had heard it all, inevitably there would be another “well, that’s a new one.” As a staff, we talked about each of those “odd” requests as an opportunity to say yes. My mantra was Make no your last answer.
The idea was, unless it was going to get someone injured, or a blatant abuse of policy, we would do our best to say yes. We would exhaust all possibilities before we said the word no. Sure, there were plenty of times we had to say no, but when a customer saw how hard we were trying to say yes, they appreciated it. As a consumer, it’s never fun to hear no, but it’s even worse if it appears there is no effort whatsoever to accommodate a request.
Anyone who works with the public knows what a grind that consistently providing good customer service can be. It’s easy to be a superstar in short spurts, but when you listen to people’s wants, needs, demands, and complaints all day – day after day – it starts to feel like sandpaper rubbing your skin. That may sound harsh, but those who have ever spent the bulk of their time on that phone, behind that counter, or across that desk, know what I’m talking about.
As with most things, the vast majority of people are great to serve and work with. But, the small percentage that are difficult/unpleasant are SO difficult/unpleasant, it can taint your view of all customer interaction. All the more reason to make no your last answer. It’s disarming when difficult customers are met with constant smiles, genuine interest, and lots of yes.
There is a certain attitude and mindset necessary for unfailing customer interaction. “How can I make this experience great for my customer?” “How can I show this person I genuinely care about them?” “How can I figure out how to say yes to this request?”
When no is your last answer, the customer knows you’re working with them and for them. How many times have you made a request at some establishment and you could see the “NO” coming before you even finished talking? Even the facial expression and body language of the representative was saying “Nope” before actually uttering the word. This is a huge turnoff. When a patron can tell you really care and sees your process of working through all options of saying yes, they will be more understanding if the answer has to be no.
When no is your last answer, you’re building a relationship with that customer, even if it’s for a short time. I can assure you they will remember that. I used to tell the staff all the time this stuff is not rocket science. It’s about treating people like you want to be treated and showing honest attention to their experience.
We can all learn from the slogan on the Southwest Airlines napkin.
When no is your last answer- yes is King.
Yes kicks arse.
Yes is way more fun.
People love yes.
In a world full of no, you’ll be the shiny yes standing out from the crowd.