Saturday, May 23, 2009

How to Create Raving Fans

My daughter is 17 now. Got her license last summer. So it's about time for . . .

Her first accident.

Luckily: 100% not her fault.

10:45 AM.
She's driving down the road and a lunatic comes swerving up beside her. Victoria (my daughter) slowed down. The lunatic then swerved again. Victoria stomped on the brakes as the lunatic tested whether two objects really can't occupy the same space.

Then the woman moved all the way to the right and drove away. Victoria followed her. Half a mile later, she turned right and Victoria followed. At this point the lunatic pulled over.

No current insurance paperwork. Eager to pay cash.

A witness stops to give her name and volunteers that this woman had been swerving down the road for some time.

Standard information exchanged.

2:25 PM.
We use Geico Insurance and have for more than 20 years.

I go online, fill out the claim form.

Click Submit.

2:28 PM.
Email arrives with claims report. Someone will be in touch today. Saturday.

Follow-up emails come in at 2:47 and 2:50.

2:55 PM.
John from Geico calls. They have determined that Victoria is not at fault. Geico will pay for everything including the rental car.

The next appointment to take the car to be fixed is Tuesday (because Monday's a holiday).

We have to pay our deductible, but Geico will go after Loony-woman's insurance company for that as well.

"Is there anything else I can do for you today?"

3:00 PM.
Receive confirmation email on claim settlement, rental, and repair appointment.

Who knew getting in an accident could be so easy?

- - - - -

A Few Lessons

As the official Lemonade maker of the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend, I take some positive lessons from this.

1) I'm going to spend the next week telling people how much we love Geico.

2) Victoria asked an interesting question: Is there a flag in the system to tell them that you get special service because you've been with them a long time?

Every client should feel special. The hard part is figuring out how to create a system that makes people feed special, instead of feeling part of a system.

3) Speed and timeliness can be a huge part of your USP (unique selling proposition). This is particularly true if the client expects a slow response.

I literally could not ask for faster assistance from Geico. 35 minutes from start claim submission to final confirmation email. Amazing.

Amazing = raving fans.

4) Impressive use of technology wins bonus points. Not just because I'm a nerd. Having designed a data entry system for an auto insurance broker, I have a very good idea of chores that need to go on in the background when you have a web-based insurance application.

The combination of web systems, databases, phone support, email services, and human interaction was truly brilliant.

Easy. Fast. Courteous.

Raving Raving Raving.

- - - - -

Perhaps the hardest lesson is that one about service.

As very small businesses, we have a bias that says that "personal" service is totally one-on-one and cannot be systematized. Systems are not personal. Systems are made for the great masses. I give the kind of personal attention that can't be turned into a system.

Build-a-Bear gives you a stuffed animal so unique it can (and will) be shipped back to you if lose it and someone turns it in.

Doubletree gives you warm cookies at bedtime.

Geico takes, processes, settles a claim, and schedules the repairs in thirty minutes.

If big companies can figure out how to give a client "everything" with the appearance of customized service, then we little folks should be able to do the same. After all, it's what we claim we do anyway.

How can you create a customer service experience that concludes with the client saying that absolutely every part of the experience was great?


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