Consistency: The Key to Happy Customers

When you think about great customer service, what do you think of?  A great attitude? Dedication? Attentiveness? These are some of the common responses that hear and while they are all good answers, I’m often surprised at how many people overlook arguably the most important facet of good customer service: consistency.  Providing a consistent experience for your clients and customers should be a top priority. In fact, it’s better to consistently above average than to be excellent some of the time and just okay at other times. Why? Because when you’re consistent, your customers know what to expect—and their expectations are met each and every time they do business with you.  That is the key to keeping clients and customers happy.

Think about the last time you visited McDonalds.  Why did you do it? Is it because its the best hamburger in town?  Probably not. Most likely, whether you realized it or not, you went to McDonalds because you knew exactly what you were going to get.  McDonalds doesn’t ask their cooks to be creative. They don’t want a customer to bite into a burger and say “wow, this is the best hamburger I’ve ever had!”  Instead, they ask their cooks to follow directions to the letter. The result is that you can visit any McDonalds in the country, order a cheeseburger and fries, and know exactly what you’re going to get.  You walk into their restaurant with a certain set of expectations, and you walk out of the store with those expectations met. That’s how they keep you coming back.

So how does this apply to your business?  Set high standards for every facet of your customer’s experience—but don’t set them so high than you can not consistently deliver.  It’s better to provide consistent “B+” customer service than to be at an ‘A’ level some of the time and only “C+” other times. That’s because once a customer experiences your ‘A’ level experience, they’ll want it each time.  When you can’t provide it, they’re not going to be happy. Conversely, if you’re at a B+ level every day, they’ll know what to expect and they’ll be satisfied when you provide it.  

Practically, that means it is better not to respond to an email from a client the moment you get it… unless you can always respond that rapidly.  And it’s better not to ship an order overnight unless you plan on always doing so, or unless you make it clear that it is a special exception. 

More than anything else, managing client expectations is the key to keeping them happy.  While it may seem like a great idea today to blow them away with your level of service, be aware that they’ll be expecting it every day going forward!  providing a consistent experience for your customers will keep them coming back.