Never devalue any single customer or their opinion. Even if the customer is being unreasonable you still want to hear them out. Sometimes the most opinionated customers will always provide your business the opportunity to fix small details that may have been overlooked. It also gives your business the opportunity to showcase your world-class customer support.
As part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Chu. Lisa, the designer of Black n Bianco started with a small clothing store in downtown LA that grew to become a well-loved brand for children’s formal wear. The apparel clothing designed by Lisa all has little personality traits that truly make each garment a unique piece of clothing. Designed with love made with passion.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I started working in a small clothing store as a sales associate in Downtown Los Angeles because I loved the fashion industry. I wanted to learn every aspect of running a business from manufacturing to the showroom. Working in the industry allowed me to develop relationships with a lot of people in manufacturing. Which allowed me to start my own small business when the 2008 recession hit and I was left without a job. Starting my own new business in a bad economy was a very risky decision, but it was now or never. I was given the best opportunity of my lifetime and I told myself I would do whatever I can to ensure this becomes a success.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I have lost count on how many mistakes I have made throughout the startup months of my business. I don’t recall any specific laugh out loud funny mistakes. However, I do remember getting confused about cash flow and revenue. I thought they meant the same things so I would use the words interchangeably causing mass confusion for my CPA. That might have been funny from my CPA point of view, but I quickly learned the difference after it was explained to me. I learned to never use any business terms until I fully understood what it meant. Using the incorrect terms comes off as unprofessional, incompetent, and inexperienced. I was very fortunate I did not use those terms in front of my manufacturer.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
This one is very easy, it was La-Po the Chinese manufacturer overseas who was willing to take a gamble on my business. Not only did he provide me really great credit terms for the goods, but he also loaned me the money to start my business. Without his support and his belief in me and my abilities, I would not be here today. I worked in the fashion/apparel industry for ten years and throughout the years I developed a great working relationship with him. When the 2008 financial crisis happened I lost my job. La-Po was the one who wanted to invest in me and I attribute the startup success to him.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and great customer experience is essential for success in business?
Great customer service and experience will reduce overall problems and help generate more profit for your business. What do I mean by that? Let’s get down to the numbers, customer retention is a lot more effective and cheaper than customer acquisition. On average most businesses will spend around five to six times to attract a new potential lead than retaining their current customer. Why would you spend all that money only to lose a customer because of a poor customer experience? Great customer experience also provides your business with the most powerful marketing strategy, word of mouth. No amount of money will generate this amount of credibility for your business and brand. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth especially in the social media age. A bad reputation will cost your business time, resources, and loss of revenue. With customers facing so many choices if your business cannot even meet the standard threshold you have no chance to survive in this new landscape of business.
We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
I believe the disconnect is in their business model. Jeff Bezos has mentioned numerous times in interviews, Amazon’s business model is an obsession with customer experience. A lot of these older companies have yet to change their business structure and culture to adapt to recent changes. They lack the knowledge, experience, and willpower to adapt and change. I believe a lot of these businesses are not concerned with customer satisfaction. They pursue profits above all else and that is one of the main reasons amazon keeps winning. Amazon does not focus on profits, they focus purely on customer experience. Treating your customers like family was built into Amazon’s DNA.
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
Yes Yes Yes and Yes. The business landscape is quickly changing to customer experience. This first started with Zappos and now with Amazon. Those businesses that cannot see the changing of tides will suffer a slow and inevitable demise.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
WOWING our customer was built into our customer business plan. I remember the first customer who was wowed by our packaging. We did not mention any specifics to the packaging because we wanted it to be a surprise. To ensure our suits were properly packaged we always included a garment bag. We spent weeks designing our garment bag so it would match with our brand aesthetics. I also wanted a hint of novelty to make it different from our competitors. It was a huge hit and people always rave and rant about the little surprise packaging. The extra garment bag did not cost much, but that something little extra made a huge difference in the experience. I knew this was a great strategy because I have felt myself when purchasing online. Something unexpected even very small always brings a smile to my face.
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
One WOW experience did not create a tidal wave ripple effect. That does happen but it’s like catching lightning in a bottle. Throughout the years of building our business and using the WOW factor brought us more success than other marketing strategies we have implemented. We were fortunate enough to dress some small celebrities through the word of mouth and through the WOW experience.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
- In order to create a WOW experience you must understand your target audience. Every industry is different and knowing your customers is key to developing a business plan that will WOW them. You have to know your audience because that is the only way to cater to their needs. Being a mom I knew exactly what I liked and what I didn’t like when shopping for my own kids. I used my own mom experience to create products, packaging and branding that I would have loved to purchase. I could relate to my target audience and I used that strength to create the WOW factor. I borrowed from other companies that WOW me while mixing it up with my own touch so it would resonate with my customers.
- The WOW factor needs to be written into your business plan so it will influence your employees to deliver the WOW promise for your business. It needs to be ingrained into your business culture.
- Never devalue any single customer or their opinion. Even if the customer is being unreasonable you still want to hear them out. Sometimes the most opinionated customers will always provide your business the opportunity to fix small details that may have been overlooked. It also gives your business the opportunity to showcase your world-class customer support.
- Try to add more personality to customer support. It’s very important to train your customer team so they can effectively deliver an awesome customer experience, but allow them the ability to showcase their personality. You want your customers to feel like they are talking to an actual person.
- Do something unexpected. It doesn’t matter what that may be. Having something unexpected is one of the main ingredients to WOW experience. Giving customers outstanding care should be the main focus of every single CEO.
Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?
Yes, always be sure to make your social media easily accessible so when customers rant and review about their experience they can easily tag your company or business. Having a social media presence will inspire your customers to reach out to you and develop a real authentic relationship with your brand.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would start a movement to be more empathic. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes will allow people to understand we are all the same. We hurt and laugh just like everyone else. Empathy is the gift that differs us from animals. It’s the reason we love it. I would start an empathy revolution if I could!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow us on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/blacknbianco/
Or visit our website for more information: https://www.blacknbianco.com
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!