Beyond good service and good manners

August 28, 2012

By Bob Johnson, NAID CEO

I read a book a few years ago called “The Ultimate Question,” which chronicles the ascent of Enterprise Rental Car from a backwater operation to the No. 2 spot in that arena.

In essence, the book maintained that Enterprise’s success resulted from hiring an outside service to contact customers asking one question about their experience, “Would you recommend us to a friend?” The premise was that managers’ and team members’ compensation, status, recognition, and promotions were tied to customers’ responses. It meant that managers and team members would work harder to make sure the customer experience was good enough that customers would recommend them to friends. In order to create a good customer experience that would result in a referral, agents concentrated extra hard on providing great service and being super polite.

After reading the book, I wondered if great service and being polite was really enough to ensure customer loyalty. And, even if it worked in the car rental business, how would it translate to secure destruction services?

Some readers know that among my many hats I wore while getting NAID off the ground, one was that of sales trainer. (Some readers may still have a copy of the 200-page sales training manual I wrote 20 years. ago.) I maintained then, as I do now, that the best favor you can do for your customer and yourself, is to make sure they can this statement, “We use this company for our destruction because …”

In the months and weeks ahead, customers will inevitably be put in a position to defend that decision regularly. First, they will occasionally have to defend selecting your service to their boss. Think of the position you put your customers in if you have not given them proper ammunition or training. You have left them hanging in the wind and put the account at risk.

Secondly, and more frequently, they also have to defend their decisions to themselves. Every time they shut down a competitive offer, they silently ask themselves, “Why am I using my current vendor?” It’s a psychological principle called cognitive dissonance. The better they know why they are using your service, the easier it is for them to reject the advances of a competitor confidently. Every time they authorize that payment or sign that purchase order, they are silently asking themselves, “Why I am using this company?” Your job is to make sure they know the answer.

What about good service and good manners? Well, when put in a position to explain to a boss (or themselves) why they are paying you “X” when a competitor is offering “Y,” I seriously doubt that the response “they have excellent service and they are very polite” would get much mileage. You’d better get ready to pick up those containers.

Tune into NAIDnotes on Thursday to learn more about how you can arm your customers with responses that can effectively defend the customer’s decision to use your service.