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Going the extra mile for customers by breaking rules when appropriate can foster a sense of trust and loyalty. Customers are more likely to stay loyal to a brand that demonstrates a willingness to prioritize their needs. | Source: Freepik
Going the extra mile for customers by breaking rules when appropriate can foster a sense of trust and loyalty. Customers are more likely to stay loyal to a brand that demonstrates a willingness to prioritize their needs. | Source: Freepik

Don’t be afraid to break the rules

Do your employees understand the line in the sand? SHEP HYKEN encourages you to ‘break the rules’ to demonstrate your commitment to your employees.

There is a significant benefit to empowering your employees to break the rules for their customers.

What I mean by breaking the rules is to consider what you can do for a customer outside of the norm that doesn’t cost the business money, and isn’t illegal or immoral.

It’s not about breaking any real rules – it’s about finding ways to take care of the customer that goes beyond traditional conventions.

One of the concepts I often cover involves the idea of the ‘line in the sand.’ Many businesses train their employees in what they can’t do for customers. They have rules that have little or no flexibility.

While it’s essential for employees to be trained on what they shouldn’t do, it may be more important to train them on what they can do. By that, I mean how far employees are allowed to go before they have to say ‘no’. I call this the line in the sand concept.

"Customers should feel like your business is on their side and is willing to be flexible. This gives them a reason to say “I’ll be back!” And repeat sales are the lifeblood of any retail business."

You should teach the employees of your jewellery store how close they can get to this line before they’ve gone too far, because it’s this level of effort that creates loyalty from customers.

For example, I have a client in the luxury vehicle market. This client has a staff that travels to dealerships to help sales staff with demanding customers they can’t seem to please. Members of this staff believe in the power of saying ‘yes’ instead of ‘no.’ They have the authority to refund the entire price of the vehicle.

That’s their line in the sand – their last resort. They’re well-trained and have always found other ways to make customers happy without going too far. 

The key is training, but it isn’t just imparted in one educational session. It’s about continuously sharing stories of what other employees are doing to meet the needs and demands of customers, all without crossing the line in the sand.

When an employee does something right, congratulate them and share the example with the rest of your store. If they do something wrong, or in other words - if they cross the line - turn it into a learning opportunity that is also shared.

Routinely spreading examples helps employees recognise the hidden opportunities that will lead to a loyal customer base. Some examples of breaking the rules might be honouring a warranty that expired a month earlier – or stretching a 14-day return policy to the 15th or 16th day.

Customers should feel like your business is on their side and is willing to be flexible. This gives them a reason to say “I’ll be back!” And repeat sales are the lifeblood of any retail business.

Time to upgrade?

Many years ago, a friend shared some advice with me - it doesn’t cost much more to enjoy a first-class experience. 

He was referring to spending a little more in certain situations to enhance the experience. It could be a nicer hotel, a better seat in a theatre, a better cut of meat at the butcher, and more. He found that it often doesn’t cost much more to upgrade. 

So, I started thinking about this advice and how we can apply it to the jewellery store customer experience.

Essentially, I was thinking that we can proactively give our customers a better experience by bumping our efforts up a notch. In most cases, it doesn’t cost much - if anything - to do so. The secret is applying some thought and maybe a little extra effort. 

"When an employee does something right, congratulate them and share the example with the rest of your store. If they do something wrong, or in other words - if they cross the line - turn it into a learning opportunity that is also shared."

A few years ago, I had the honor of working with Lexus. After the presentation, the client sent me an amazing testimonial about my speech; however, there was something else that I felt incredibly proud of. The client also wrote about the experience my staff provided. Specifically, it said, “from start to finish, you offered nothing but Lexus-like professionalism and courtesy to our program staff and dealer associates.”

What did I do to deserve that accolade? Looking back, I did what most good people – or businesses – would do for their customers. I returned calls and emails quickly, I was proactive with my communication and I met deadlines. On the day of the speech, I showed up early.

In short, I did everything I promised and what was expected. And none of that cost me anything extra.

What is the investment to call someone back? If a customer reaches out to you via a call or email, and you intend to respond, why wait and risk frustrating the customer? You’re going to return the call or write the email anyway, so why not try to do it in a timely manner? 

Sometimes upgrading a customer to a first-class experience has nothing to do with money. It has to do with attention and respect. It is what you would do anyway.

Being purposeful about little things that are expected and cost nothing – or next to nothing – can go a long way in getting a customer to think of your business as a first-class organisation.

More reading:
The keys to word-of-mouth marketing: Part I
The art and science of storytelling in sales
Selling: Everything starts from a solid core
Three golden rules for investing in relationships with customers
How do you treat your customers after they leave?
 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken is a speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author who works with companies to build loyal relationships with customers and employees. Visit: hyken.com

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