"Build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful."
-Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon.com
If you attended a party where the host snarled at you, reluctantly offered you a drink, looked past you to greet someone deemed more important and basically couldn't wait until you left—chances are you would leave, slamming the door behind you.
Unfortunately, that's the experience many of us receive today. We're not treated as a valued customer—a guest—to be respected. Rather, we're a nuisance to be endured—we're the blaring car alarm when they're trying to sleep. In the business world, customer service has become a dirty phrase.
In my experience as CEO of a large digital marketing company and board member to others, companies too focused on new business risk ignoring, alienating, and then losing the clients and business they already have. Customers that are taken for granted soon leave, and business suffers.
Here are five key rules I follow and expect of all my people in my organization(s) to follow, and I hope they’ll unlock the door to your greater success:
First, I don't call people clients, or even customers. At my companies we refer to them as "guests," and we are their host. We are always happy to see them and strive to make their time with each of us a great experience.
A great waiter knows when to refill your glass or bring the check, just as a great company anticipates what their guests need, often before they know it themselves.
It costs nothing to be courteous, but you can pay dearly if you aren't.
"There's only one boss," Sam Walton once said, "the customer. He can fire everybody from the chairman on down simply by spending his money elsewhere."
Sometimes things mess up, but apologies, which matter, mean nothing if they aren't followed by action. Well done is better than well said.
In short, providing great guest experience isn't its own department. At my companies, it's everybody's job. As Henry Ford said: "A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large."
—Eric Schiffer is a world-leading expert in digital marketing as CEO of Digitalmarketing.com, providing his keen insights to Fortune 500 CEOs, foreign leaders, Forbes 400 billionaires and celebrities. He is the chairman of ReputationManagementConsultants.com and can be followed on Twitter @EricSchiffer.