A few years ago the New York Times wrote an article about Jet City Device Repair and customer reviews. The article is a bit dated (for example, we now offer a lifetime guarantee versus a 90 day warranty), but the basic point of the article is still relevant – we truly value customer feedback.
The article is about our logistics of asking for a review and how we handle bad ones, but it doesn’t dive into how we create a 5-star experience for customers (we have over 1000 5-star reviews across our stores). I thought it may be insightful for other business owners – or potential customers – to know how we do it.
6 Keys to a Great Customer Experience
Great customer service is more than being nice. That doesn’t hurt, but it’s the easy part (I recommend reading Effortless Experience for details). Here are the 6 things that will make a business stand out in customer experience.
- Hire Great People & Empower Them
- Excellent Core Offering
- Stand By Your Work
- Make Things Easy
- Enjoyable Space
- Be Open To Feedback
Hire Great People & Empower Them
Hiring great people and taking good care of them is the most important part of running a successful business – and it should be your top priority. Some would say customers should be your top priority. I agree that’s critical, but let me use our company mission statement to explain why we put employees at the top of our list:
To make people’s lives better. Our employees, our customers, and our investors - in that order. If we create happy and motivated employees, we’ll have happy customers. Happy customers lead to a great bottom line.
In other words, would you expect happy customers from unhappy or incompetent employees? Absolutely not! Everything starts by hiring the best people you can, training them properly, and then trust & empower them to take care of customers.
“Trust & empower” is important because employees can’t take great care of customers if they don’t have the power to do so. An infuriating customer experience is to be told, “My hands are tied. It’s company policy.” That said, empowering your employees is scary because people make mistakes. Try to remember this motto when that happens: “If you make a mistake and learn from it, that’s training. When you repeat mistakes that’s a problem.” Read my post Response to a Customer That Questioned My Employee’s Integrity for more details.
Excellent Core Offering
This should be obvious, but businesses frequently get bogged down in other details. Ever been to restaurant with impeccable decor, outstanding service, and marginal food? Not a place you’ll likely visit again – they forgot their core business is food. On the flip side, you may regularly visit that dingy, little dive place with a rude cashier and the best burger in town. They have room to improve, but know what customers really want.
Nail your core offering before worrying about anything else.
In our case, we do cell phone, tablet, and laptop repair. It doesn’t matter how great our customer service is if we don’t fix your broken iPad properly. So we hire great people, train them well, and provide them with the tools & atmosphere to succeed.
Stand By Your Work
Every company makes mistakes, but not every company does a good job of making things right. Hopefully very few of your customers ever need this service but, when they do, here are the three things you have to do:
- Have a generous warranty policy (none of this 60-90 day nonsense).
- Have as painless of a warranty process as you can.
- Good & honest communication.
Imagine you got your old & failing iPad battery replaced. A new battery should last 18-24 months, but six months later you discover your iPad isn’t holding a charge again. Here are 3 possible outcomes:
The Worst. You call the company and hear, “Your 90 day warranty has expired. You’ll have to pay to get it fixed again.”
Bad. You call to report the issue, navigate an automated phone tree, sit on hold for 5-10 minutes, get grilled by a bored sounding “customer service” agent, and then discover the first available time is next Wednesday at 2:00 pm.
Good. You go back to the store that fixed it and you’re greeted by an empathetic employee who apologizes, tells you it’s still under warranty, and immediately gets to fixing the problem. An hour later you’re out the door with a working iPad and it didn’t cost anything extra. In fact, you had a free cup of coffee and played a little Mario Cart while you waited.
Make Things Easy
Too many companies think a great customer experience is about being friendly. It’s not. The key is making things as easy & painless as possible. Friendliness is great, but more importantly – make a customer’s life easier.
- Make it easy for people to find the information they want on your website.
- Put your contact info in an obvious place. People hate hunting around for a phone number or email.
- When someone contacts you, try to have them interact with a real human being.
- Have convenient hours – don’t just be open 9am – 5pm Monday-Friday.
- If you offer a service, allow people to schedule online, over the phone, or via email.
- Don’t make people fill out a bunch of paperwork if you can do it for them (I’m talking to you doctors’ offices).
- Make things as fast as possible because people want to get on with their day.
Consider our iPad battery replacement. First, you find the repair on our website either by a simple navigation or using the live search at the top. Then email or call us using the obvious “Contact Us” link at the top (or just click the big orange button that says, “Schedule Repair”). All our stores are open 7 days a week and open until 7pm Monday – Friday, so it’s usually easy to find a convenient time. When you show up, we run a full diagnostic for you, tell you the price and time for the repair, and then fix it.
Do not underestimate the importance of making things simple. It’s probably the #1 thing they’ll remember about you.
A big part of the customer experience is your physical space. You want a space that’s great to work in and great for customers. Most people think you need a big budget and have to hire an expensive designer to create your space. You don’t.
At Jet City Device Repair, we try to have some comfortable seating, a clean space, fun activities, free coffee, and try not to look too much like a doctor’s office. One good way to meet that last criteria is to get your employees involved and infuse the space with their personalities. For example, our Loop store has a 6 foot tall dinosaur in the window, a decal of an octopus coming over the wall, free (good) coffee, a video game emulator with thousands of video games on it, comic books, legos for kids, and more. We also keep the space tidy. All of this is inexpensive and effective (just check out some customer reviews to see).
Another thing to remember: happy employees create a great experience for customers so don’t neglect employee spaces. We encourage all our people to contribute to the character of the space. Everyone can pick posters, food, decorations, etc. We even used to have a fish in one location! None of this is expensive and by letting employees be involved in building our space, it reflects who we are – and it’s fun!
Be Open To Feedback
The New York Times article pointed out that we don’t just ask for good reviews (and we never pay for reviews). We ask for honest feedback (and make it easy for people to leave feedback). It’s not fun getting a negative review, but if you pay attention to it, you might find some nuggets to help create a better customer experience.
For example, several years ago our entire industry had issues with poor glass quality on some iPhone screens. We started to see negative reviews because these screens broke too easily after a repair. We decided to change our iPhone repair policy to include a free, 30-day “protection plan” – if the screen breaks within 30 days, we’ll fix it again at no cost. It also got us working with our existing vendors and searching for new ones to fix the problem.
And good reviews offer two advantages. One, they tell you what you’re doing right. That’s super useful for a lot of reasons (like marketing, doing more of that thing, making sure you keep doing that thing, etc). Secondly, you can share them with employees. We use the Chicago based Basecamp software and have a special “project” setup to share customer reviews across the company. It’s a great way to let people know they are appreciated.