To Get Customer Loyalty – Gestalt It!

To us as customers, satisfaction is very Gestalt. The “whole” is greater than the sum of its parts. We experience customer service not as a series of details and transactions but as one total experience.

The companies who get customer loyalty – gestalt it.

Get Customer Loyalty - Gestalt It! Image by:Fillmore Photography

Behind the scenes, they manage a myriad of details and transactions across all channels and for multiple customers; with the customers, they focus on a unique total experience for each one.

  1. They adapt to each customer instead of pretending that each customer is the same.
  2. They make the process and interaction easy. The customers and their happiness come back to them.
  3. They move through the procedures to solve the problems; they don’t highlight the procedures to the customers.
  4. They prevent the upset customer knowing that positive breeds more positive and negative seeks a large empathetic audience.

They also know that each time they interact with a customer, it continues and adds to the experience.

A Recent Story.

A business hotel conveniently located has served me for years. +
They empower whatever I need to do. +
They remember me each time I go back. +
They have made it a home away from home. +
They offered to reinstate expired reward points. +
They just gave me outstanding interpersonal treatment as I made a new reservation.
———————————
TOTAL: A continuously positive experience not a series of positive experiences. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts!

The continuous whole creates emotional loyalty that individual transactions do not. It prevents the question mark in the customer’s mind. “Why wonder if there’s something better when I already know I will be cared for?”

There is no end to the customer loyalty you can build if you continue to build one whole. Get loyalty — gestalt it!

Yours in service,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach

©2011 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, delivers customer service and teamwork training and improves your company’s customer loyalty quotient. Preview and purchase her unique DVD Customer Service USA – Regional Differences That Matter.

13 Responses to “To Get Customer Loyalty – Gestalt It!”

  1. Melissa Kovacevic says:

    Great post, Kate! The most successful Service providers understand this concept, especially about making that one person they are interacting with feel valued at each and every interaction rather than just another number to take care of. Your hotel experience is similar to one I love doing business with for similar reasons.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thanks Melissa. Isn’t it true for most road warriors like you and me. Many hotels try to make the “home away from home” concept come alive yet kill the spirit of their staff by too many rules. Inspire people to care — makes a great difference.
      Kate

  2. Michael Hill says:

    Yes, enjoyed reading this post. The four points are clearly made but so important. I’ve often stressed the need for an organisation’s problem resolution process to appear to be seamless to the customer even when the problem might be complex to solve. If this is not done then the experience can feel clunky as a customer, requiring them to put in greater effort and more of their time. Of course, this then reduces the potential to satisfy and retain the customer (let alone delight them) – even if the outcome provided to them is what they wanted. In my own personal experience, if I have the time and expend the effort required, I will get my desired outcome – but too often I am left feeling disappointed with the experience and ‘disappointment’ is one of the most dangerous emotions for eroding customer loyalty.

  3. Andrew Maher says:

    Kate, interesting reading your post and it made me think of a visit I had at a large UK bank last week. They have been working very hard on the customer satisfaction side of the business even though the processes ans systems are quite challenged. I had heard good things about them before going but wanted to see it myself. I spent about 3-4 hours over two days listening to calls and was just moved by their skills. Keeping the customer “in the know” all along. Anticipating the next question before the customer needed to ask. The language chosen, the empathy used was just wonderful to experience. All through the process, just as you write, the positives were adding up. The end was obvious, a unique and memorable experience. What more does a customer want?

  4. Pattie Roberts says:

    You’ve nailed it, Kate, as usual: “A continuously positive experience not a series of positive experiences. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts!” This is the essense of what customer service should ALWAYS be about. Brands that understand, and practice, this will build loyalty and keep loyal customers even when the occasional “mess up” happens. And mess ups will happen – no organization’s systems and processes are perfect. As you mention above, your loyalty points expired – that’s the result of a process established by that hotel. Most likely that process was developed in a conference room somewhere (where I guarantee there were no customers present!), by people who were looking at business factors and not customer needs factors. It’s reasonable to expect that there will be some sort of parameters around loyalty points. However, the person you spoke to was committed to providing a continuously positive experience, and was empowered to reinstate them. Props to that organization for making priorities of commitment and empowerment!

    Keep preaching the “customer service” gospel, Miss Kate!!

  5. Kate – You’ve done an excellent job tying the psychological concept to a business imperative. Applause.
    Companies that “get” customer service also organize/structure around and orient their inner workings to the customer. Others structure for and around internal issues.

    Take Verizon (please) for example. When talking to a customer rep about a ‘packaged” service Verizon advertises and sells, the rep knows nothing about two of the three services. Often they don’t even have a phone number for contacting the other two. BAD. No Gestalt re: the customer. The actions brand the company as arrogant and not concerned with customer experience. Individual reps are often caring and doing the best they can, but the system itself is a barrier. No gestalt regarding customers.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      I am humbled by your applause and grateful for your voice on this post. The best service doesn’t show it seams and your example illustrates what happens when the seams show.

      Thanks Anne.
      Kate

  6. Marla Beard says:

    Scott Stratten’s book UnMarketing shows how important good customer experience is to marketing and customer retention.

    His example of brand loyalty for Brand A’s coffee and how Brand B lured him away starts with their tiny inconveniences. He started noticing little cracks in the armor, and one day he went to Brand B instead. 2 little nice things they do is add the stuff to the coffee and they take debit cards. He accepted the other things with Brand A as it being the usual way they do things–but Brand B thought things through and made it a better experience.

    When the process for serving a customer is adopted by a company who has really thought things through, it makes it easier to provide good customer service. The customer’s GESTALT good experiences which are facilitated by policies takes the guesswork and inconsistencies out of customer service so the customer can continue to have good service no matter which employee provides the assistance.

  7. Kim says:

    Good points Kate. Customers do see companies with one lens. They have an overall impression of the company regardless of the number of touchpoints (even if marketing sends out catalogs and sales sends out emails and customer service answers the calls, etc).

    I also like your point that positive a customer experience takes the question out of customers mind if they should look elsewhere.

    It’s all about consistency in delivering positive customer experiences through an organization and getting rid of policies and procedures that prohibit that. When a company is consistent, the customer thinks “who else but company X would treat me this great” and that removes any questions (can I get a better deal elsewhere, etc).

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thanks Kim — that post came from both my heart and my head. The “whole” distinguishes great services providers from the merely “good”. So pleased to hear your voice on this.
      Warmest wishes,
      Kate

  8. Guy Stephens says:

    Kate – All too often not only do organisations allow their processes to be visible to the customer, they also allow the individual processes to define the overall experience. This results in a series of ad hoc micro-transactions in a sense, where the individual parts are of necessity greater than the sum.

    Those companies that ‘gestalt it’, as you write, are somehow able to see beyond the individual parts, rising above the morass who are unwilling or unable to do so. The challenge for customers is not to complain about those that are unable or unwilling, but to show them that the possibility of something better exists.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Yes Guy … as a customer I often try to show that there is something better. I start with a respectful gentle touch and yet often run into a scripted rep suffering from procedur-itis. Hard to cure someone who doesn’t know they are sick 🙂

      Kate

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