Brand Hospitality is where you have a friendly, generous reception and support for your Audience. Your Audience is essentially anyone who would consider buying any of your products or services.
So, if you are not generously, genuinely helping them, it’s not likely that they’ll have a great experience with you. The end result? They're going to go somewhere else. Or worse, they might even warn friends and family about your poor customer service.
Systems and Team Members are also part of your customer service, or Brand Hospitality. Together, they should help solve any problems and answer any questions that your Audience (or Guests) may experience while they're engaging with your Brand. Without these systems in place, it’s hard to really meet expected requirements and fulfill your obligations as a business.
If your Brand receives a customer support e-mail and then waits the weekend to send a response, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. The person will think you don’t want their business. That’s why it's really important that you make giving amazing customer service a top priority.
Brand Hospitality: A Great Example
In Disneyland, they have such amazing Brand Hospitality/customer service that there are actually books and courses all about it. They like to treat guests like Guests, and that can only be positive for their business (and yours).
Did you know that they call every one of their customers Guests? You aren’t a cash cow – you are a welcome member of their family for the duration of your stay. Everybody that gets a ticket and comes inside Disneyland gets treated like Guests. They're very hospitable to people, and this naturally makes a positive impression.
If you have $10,000 spare, you could easily sign up for Disney University. There, you live in Disney World for a week, and spend that week learning all about their secrets to customer service. They even have City Hall; a dedicated customer service building at Disneyland. It’s literally a building just for helping people – it shows you care about the experience your customers/Guests have.
It’s all about delivering respect, credibility and a source of comfort to the customer themselves.
Another great example of this is Zappos.
Zappos: Creating a Customer Service Standard
Zappos are experts in making that little piece of customer service come to life. For example, there was a time when they had a 30-day money back guarantee. All you had to do was send your shoes back in 30-days, and get your cash back. However, one story involved a person who wasn't able to send their shoes back in 30 days. They sent it back around 40 days later, with a note saying, "I'm really sorry, these shoes don't fit, but my grandmother passed away."
Zappos, to their credit, took initiative here. They sent that person a free pair of shoes and bouquet of flowers to say sorry for your loss. Cue a massive PR win that shows just how beneficial a good customer service drive can be.
So that's why you have to go above and beyond, and why you should do things that your Guests would never expect a company to do. The minute you treat your customers/Guests as if they were personal friends or as people rather than walking points of transaction, the minute you can see massive improvements.
Rather than telling people that you “really appreciate their business” or that “their call matters to you”, show them it in actual proof. Don’t leave them hanging on the phone for hours. Show them that you listened, you learned and you cared enough to make a genuine response. Of course, the kind of customer service that you can offer comes down almost entirely to business policy.
Does Your Policy Allow for Great Customer Service?
Let’s start with refunds. Do you give refunds? Are you happy to offer lifetime returns for a product without worrying about the potential for abuse? Or do you prefer a 30-day money back guarantee? Or do you not have any guarantee? It’s important to make a decision on this, whatever you choose, before you set up shop. The only good policy is a clear policy.
The more hoops you make people jump through just to get good quality service, the more likely it is that they’ll take their custom elsewhere in the future. Don’t force people to go through all manner of service calls and waste their time, only to find out that you do not provide refunds. Offer clarity on the kind of customer service you offer; make it clear that guests can expect if they need support.
Show them how far you are willing to go.
Say you have a 30-day money back guarantee, and somebody on day 34 emails and tells you that they “need” a refund. Are you going to honor that? Or are you going to stick to the policy that you set out in the first place? Do you have a cut-off point for when you won’t stretch beyond policy? Stretch when it seems fair, and when it’s not a completely outrageous request.
The next thing we need to look at is questions about your business.
In the beginning, especially in the startup phase, as you launch your product, people will want to ask you questions about it. What you want to do is get a blank document, and start writing those questions down – alongside your standard response to them.
Down the road, as you scale, you'll be able to give that to your customer support department for reference. Then, whenever someone comes with a common request, support has a pre-written, pre-determined response. Not only will that help you systemize things, but also really understand what common questions people are gonna have for you. That can have a major, positive impact on your business for the long-term.
Dealing with Requests
Next are requests. So, if somebody requests that you speak at their event, or you participate in a podcast with them, or whatever the case may be, how do you handle that?
What common requests do you anticipate you're going to get in your company?
How do you systemize that so you don't have to write the same email every week? How can you create a reliable template for handling such a scenario?
Are you logging those emails and putting them in a database to save you time?
This also relates to providing something a little extra, too.
For example, you can really make a positive impression if you were to include some kind of gift, coupon or surprise extra to your customers.
What special surprises can you give to your audience?
Can you send them a birthday gift?
Can you send them a birthday coupon?
Can you find out the names of their kids?
Let's say you're doing consulting, and you find out the names and the birthdays of their kids and you send the kids a little something special. That would make a positive, lasting impression for all the right reasons.
To get this kind of thing right, you need a point of contact – an expert in customer service who can help run this side of the business.
Who's the king or the queen of customer service in your company?
If you don't have one, take one of your employees and give them a little crown. Say “You are in charge of making our clients and guests super happy!” and give them that role, that responsibility.
You could easily outsource a part of this along the way, too. Like those famous chat boxes that you get on websites? You could easily outsource that to a freelance customer support company, once your business begins to really ramp up and improve.
Let's say you have a 24-hour Live Chat system on your website or your sales page. You certainly won’t be up 24 hours waiting for somebody to message you. That's where these other companies come in - and they're pretty affordable!
Next are interaction points. These are also known as touchpoints.
How are people getting a hold of your company?
Let’s say they cannot access their account, are they hitting you up on social media about that?
Do you have a chat box on your site?
Do you have a dedicated phone number?
Do you have a help desk?
Do you have a dedicated email?
You need to figure out all the ways people can get ahold of you for questions or support issues, and educate your clients and your guests about that. Giving them as many opportunities to contact your team as you can is very important.
It’s really important to make sure that any question somebody has, you have the right person answering it, so that nobody's question or request goes unanswered (or worse yet, they get the wrong answer).
It’s just meeting standard social etiquette. If you were at a party or event and someone was ignoring you, you would stop making any attempt to converse or network with them.
Well, the same thing happens with companies. If you ask them a question and they don't get back to you, you’ll simply move on and let them miss out on the opportunity to get your business.
An Example of Customer Support Done Right
Let’s look ta Anna Renderer. Go to her site www.annarenderer.com and see how at the top of her website is the Contactbutton. If you click on that you come to the contact form, and this goes right to Anna. You could send Anna a question about an event you want her to attend, you could ask Anna to reset your password – you could ask her just about anything through this kind of system.
Since Anna has your e-mails set to be Top Priority, she’ll get back to you as soon as possible to help you out as quickly as she can.
That’s what your business needs to have: something nice and simple; something strong, reliable and easy to access.
It should be accessible for customers, Guests and those looking for support or even to request your presence/ endorsement/attendance.
That’s customer service done right. You can see how Anna has created a platform that allows her to get people to contact her. You can also see why this is such an easy system to use: it’s friendly, inviting and engaging in equal measure.
That’s just about everything you need to know about creating a stellar customer service process. If you didn’t know, this was Block #4 in a series of 23 posts on how to build a successful Brand from the ground up.
Done right, good customer service will help you move towards generating a passive income. It will build your authority out there in the marketplace, and over time it will help you leave your legacy. So, if you build a business that is really awesome, it becomes a future asset – maybe even a family asset.
One day, you can sell that business for a life-changing profit, or you can hand it over to your kids or loved ones to run. You’ll be building a strong, guest-centric business and you can profit for years to come either through income or through selling a profitable business.
And just before you go: remember that only you can bring your Vision into life, nobody else. You’ll never just wake up to find that your business has turned itself into an empire overnight.
It takes hard work, it takes a huge amount of planning and no small amount of luck to make it right. Putting the right foundations in place, though, will make that luck so much easier to obtain. To do that you have to step up; you need commit to doing this, because no one else is gonna do it for you!
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