I recently read a story about how a Zappos employee set a company record by staying on the phone with a customer for 10 hours and 43 minutes. Yes, 10 hours and 43 minutes. That’s a jaw dropping level of customer service, relationship building, and insanity all wrapped up into one. Of course, this form of dedication isn’t possible for every company nor is it necessary for every type of product or service. But the bones of what Zappos is doing cracks open an important question for all of us to ask ourselves: Is my company doing everything within its power to create long-lasting relationships with our customers?
Corporate jargon likes to say, “We can always do more.” But that’s only true to an extent. We can only perform within our anthropological limits and there continues to be a finite number of hours in the day. But that’s not to say we can’t do everything that we can do. A lot of businesses think they are already doing this. But most businesses fail, so take their self-reflections with a grain of salt. This relationship creating feat does not come without all hands on deck, however. As in the Zappos story, the record breaker’s coworkers brought him food during the call while other colleagues were in charge of making sure there were no coverage issues with other customers. Elite relationship cultivating cannot be done by one or by a few, it can only be accomplished through company culture complete with perfectly drawn up assignments.
Another key point from the story was the employee saying, “he didn't stay on the line for so long ‘just for the sake of breaking’ the record — he wanted to impress his customer.” I loved that. We can all fall into the trap of just checking job description boxes with what we do for customers because our livelihoods rely on it, or for other self-serving motivations. But what about doing right by the customer just for the sake of doing right by the customer? As thoroughly as possible? The companies with the most employees who do this blow away their competition. And inevitably, blow away their forecasts as well.
Just think about how the Zappos example compares to other less-than-stellar customer service run-ins you’ve had. You may be thinking about a certain cable company or an airline or your cellular provider. Personally, I had to cut the cord with my cable company in a blaze of frustration, there’s a particular airline I won’t fly anymore and as soon as another cellular company started offering the phone I had, I left my old provider by the wayside that day. Your customers won’t stay forever if you don’t make them feel like you truly value the relationship. The world is so connected now that no matter the product, there are too many other options out there to turn to and find someone who can do it right. Someone who will go as many extra miles as they possibly can in those 24 hours in the day.