The Other 20 Percent
I just got back from a Disney cruise with my family—highly enjoyable and one of the most branded vacations I’ve ever taken. It was everything you would expect from Disney. From the food to the shows to the excellent customer service, it was all top-notch. And then there was the other 20 percent.
We were on the ship traveling with friends, and while the kids were at their activities, we had the chance to rate our Disney experience. For the most part, everything and everyone got high marks. But a small percentage of the employees on the ship didn’t quite measure up. It’s not that they were bad—they just didn’t have quite the charm and enthusiasm that the others did. When you have this mega brand greeting you along every step of the way with outlandish cheer and overwhelming exuberance, you notice when the energy drops a bit.
So here’s the question—when a huge brand like Disney works so hard to make the entire brand experience great, is 100 percent satisfaction possible? Taking the 80/20 rule out of context, does it make that big of a difference to have 80 percent of your employees performing according to “brand standards,” but 20 percent performing sub-par? No doubt, a company’s customer service goes a long way in defining its brand. Here are a few thoughts on how companies can improve their brand experience by refining their customer service.
Everyone is a touch point, but not all touch points are created equal. Your brand image is a promise you make. The customer experience is the fulfillment of that promise. The customer experience must consistently reinforce the brand promise across every customer touch point or the value of the brand is at risk. Put your best foot forward with your best employees front and center—make sure that your strongest touch points are with those who embody the brand and perform according to brand standards. Weak links do not make strong touch points.
Sometimes the above standard accentuates the standard. It’s important to stay true to your brand and perform according to your brand standards. Too far above and too far below can both be challenging, especially when the above-standard performances shed light on how badly other performances are lacking. At whichever standard you choose, it’s best to meet it with consistency. After all, consistency is key to branding.
Consistency and authenticity rule. People appreciate honest and sincere experiences with any brand and its representatives. Brands who keep it real resonate more deeply with consumers. You just have to remember, again, to be consistent in your customer service interactions. Don’t let the “best” outshine the not-so-best—the ones who underperform need to be brought up or trained, providing the best brand experience possible. And as much as possible, make the customer happy. It’s a small world, after all—made even smaller when a disgruntled customer rips your brand on social networks.
Never underestimate the importance of rapport. Let’s face it, you have more leeway when you develop rapport with your guests, customers or partners. What is rapport? It’s the feeling of being in sync, or riding the same wavelength. In business, it’s about connecting with your customers and partners in a way that builds a lifetime relationship and strengthens brand loyalty. Develop good rapport, and you’ll create a lot more room for error on your side and a greater willingness to forgive on the other side, and quite frankly….have more fun!
Key Takeaway: Remarkable customer service is a key component of your brand image. Keeping it consistent, authentic and relational across all channels and touch points will go a long way in building a strong image in breaking through the other 20 percent.