A love grown cold.
Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas and New Year are some of our seasonal festivities with an enormous build-up. We save up for ages and go out of our way to tell our families and friends we love them. We buy over-the-top seasonal gifts which shops then sell off in a half-price sale the very next day. Soon over, those special occasions are very quickly forgotten.
Rather like the short-lived attention span we afford prospects in our targeted customer acquisition campaigns. Or customers who’ve been with us a very long time who we take for granted. The truth is, sometimes the first love we had for our clients has grown cold.
It doesn’t have to be this way. So here’s a heart-warming story about a local company whose client story is all about the love, pride and care in what they do and who they serve. And 7 reasons why their people-focused approach works well and continually stands the test of time.
A customer love story.
The UK shoe repair and key-cutting empire, Timpson make me, a regular customer, feel extra special every time I see them. From a lifetime watch battery guarantee free of charge, to prompt, efficient service (every time), to a handbag strap they repaired free gratis, they do everything with a smile. Nothing is ever too much trouble for them. We could all take some lessons on board from their genuinely sincere story.
1. Be consistent.
From the CEO down, ensure that every single manager and employee knows and practices the values you hold dear so every client doesn’t fail to get a consistently good experience. John Timpson, the owner, in the year 2000 wrote a book ‘Dear James,’ which passes on to his son the lessons learned in 30 years as a Chief Executive. Their style of management is ‘Upside Down Management’ giving complete authority to employees to do what they can to amaze customers and put their own mistakes right. They run a ‘happy index’ every year which asks employees if they are being treated fairly. We can all learn lessons from this wonderful company. To never let our values tarnish or grow cold.
2. Be kind to all your stakeholders including employees, associates, partners and clients.
Alex Timpson, the late wife of the current Chairman, John Timpson, encouraged her husband, to introduce an enlightened system of rewards and perks for their staff – not least a day off on their birthdays and a free seaside holiday with their families. Timpson pay their staff not as little as they can but as much as they can afford, knowing that happy employees take a pride in the service they provide which in turn is good for business.
3. Be inspiring.
Alex Timpson had a wonderful story of her own. She was foster mother to 90 children, many abused and was a fierce campaigner on children’s issues. She inspired the company to hire ex-offenders. That gentle giving spirit still shines out of the way that Timpson hires staff and treats customers.
4. Make your customers feel so cherished they act like your best ambassadors.
James Timpson, the CEO, famously won a rare standing ovation from the Marketing Group of Great Britain at Claridge’s, with the opening gambit to his talk: “We’ve never had a marketing department, so it’s a bit of surprise to be here.” This is because their customers are actually their marketing department. They don’t claim to do marketing yet follow the 7 Ps of Marketing’ naturally because the excellent customer service they give their customers turns them into their best cheerleaders. Here’s the evidence.
People: their motto is “to work hard and be nice to people”. In the words of John Timpson, the Chairman, this involves “employing people who need a leg up — 10% of our people are ex-offenders”. They believe this to be a great way to find amazing people, who welcome a second chance. They believe in giving good people the chance to excel by training them well.
Product: they evolved from selling shoes when they started out, to shoe repairs, key cutting and mobile phone repairs, all products fulfilling a very specific customer need.
Price: putting customers first, their stores are empowered to charge ‘whatever they like – the price is just there for a guide’.
Place: they make their shops accessible, for example, out-of-town locations easy to get to. They are always innovating, recently adding barbershops to the mix.
Promotion: their customers, valued highly, are their brand promoters.
Process: they have a central rather than a head office, which doesn’t tell frontline staff what to do but guides them on how to be customer service heroes.
Physical evidence: they give their customers a consistently reliable experience. Their shops are easy to find and their website is easy to navigate.
5. Be proud of your journey.
The shops promote in pictures the proud legacy of Timpson, in the family for generations, starting with William Timpson, who set up shop in 1870. It must have been a tough journey but this does not show in the cheerful service I receive on every visit.
6. Put in place a trusting culture.
Timpson’s staff are referred to as ‘colleagues’ rather than ‘employees’ who are empowered to do their job without asking anybody. The key expectation is to open up on time, look smart and be kind to people. The company’s ethos is trust and kindness. The company’s overarching motivator is empowering happy staff to do their jobs well, not purely making money.
7. Love your customer and get engaged!
Which brings me back to what I most love about Timpson. Love your customer as you do those you love the most. I feel it every time I visit. I know I will be treated just as well as the last visit and the one I will make in the future. Because Timpson’s love for their customers is hardwired into everything they do.
So don’t wait for Valentine’s Day, or Christmas Day or a birthday to tell your client that you care about them. Follow Timpson’s example and make them part of the brand story you practice every single day. Tell that story, do that story, be that story. Live that story. Then your clients will love you back. And keep on coming back. What’s not to love about that?
If your story needs some love and attention to show and tell how you care deeply about your clients and make a difference to them, then let’s have a chat. Let’s talk about the tailored step-by-step content marketing solution which points the right story at the ideal customers you would love to reach, so you are easily recognisable everywhere, through a consistent brand identity.
Contact me on +44 (0) 7703545117 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to chat!
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