How to guarantee the customer experience

This is a guest post from Jeanne Bliss — customer experience expert and author of “I Love You More Than My Dog.” See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on her blog.

Most guarantees put the monkey on the customer’s back to manage a countdown clock on product happiness. They put a limit on the time customers have to return a product after its purchase. That enforced timeline creates a transaction-based relationship with customers, as they measure happiness one purchase at a time.

Zane’s Cycles in Branford, Connecticut, decided to guarantee the happiness of the customer relationship instead. They threw out the clock. The Zane’s guarantee says: “We are going to live up to our promises, no matter what the timing, no matter what the product or service.”

The power of a promise and how it grows your business

Founder Chris Zane knows that each customer who walks through its door brings $12,500, on average, to the business over the lifetime of the relationship. The intention behind this guarantee is to eliminate any reason for not considering Zane’s Cycles and earning that new customer. So Zane’s guarantee includes everything: lifetime free service, a 90-day price guarantee, a lifetime parts warranty. With these promises, Zane’s says to customers: “Why worry about price when our price is guaranteed? We will live up to our promise.” And this promise guides decision making throughout the lifetime of every Zane’s customer. For example, a customer who wants to return a $500 item is gladly given the refund. It is not worth jeopardizing the future value of that relationship. Zane’s employees embrace that: it’s not $500 at risk; it’s a $12,500 customer.

Does your experience have an expiration date?

Companies who understand their customers’ lives grow their business, and earn the right to customers telling their story to everyone they know. Zane’s earns the right to their customers’ stories with their decision to guarantee bicycle ownership. In a world where there is so little that customers can count on, this promise delivers “wow” in a world of customer service vanilla. And it fuels Zane’s growth. By taking away any fear in buying, Zane’s customers are less prone to negotiating a bike’s price, because in the long term, they know they’ll be covered by the Zane’s guarantee.

Zane’s can maintain its margins because price is never the determining factor in a customer decision. Customers know that “if I buy it and I don’t like it, I can bring it back.” Zane’s customers look forward to the ownership experience — also guaranteed. What part of your experience can you guarantee? How do you make sure your customers sleep well at night, knowing you’ve got them covered?

EVALUATE: How you are delivering peace of mind to customers today?

  • How would you rate your intent and ability to guarantee happiness for customers?
  • How would our customers say you are doing?
  • Do customers rave about their relationship with you?
  • How do your decisions on policies and procedures compare with this beloved company?
  • Do our decisions to live up to our promises earn us “beloved” status today?

Take action to earn the rave of customers (and employees)

  • Try to identify one part of your customer experience that you can guarantee to give customers peace of mind.

Want to learn about other tools to help you earn customers who drive the success and growth of your business? Pick up a copy of: “I Love You More Than My Dog: Five Decisions That Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad.”

About Jeanne Bliss

As “Chief Customer Officer” for Lands’ End, Mazda, Coldwell Banker, Allstate, and Microsoft, Jeanne got “customer” on the strategic agenda, earned 98% loyalty rates, and changed experiences across 50,000-person operations. Jeanne now runs CustomerBliss to create an actionable path for profitability and business growth -- through earning customer and employee raves. Her best-selling books are Chief Customer Officer and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions that Drive

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