If your employees understand your company’s mission and they feel like they’re part of the family, they’re more likely to treat the customers as such also.
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 Kaddie Fancher.
Kaddie Fancher is the President and Founder of KC Media, Inc, a Public Relations agency based out of Boca Raton, Florida. From a small, country town in Georgia, Kaddie always had big dreams of achieving her idea of success and adding value to the lives of others. Her passion to help businesses increase their brand recognition is exhibited in every client her agency services.
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?
Thank you for having me! When I was only 23 I started my career working as a Publicist at a boutique Public Relations agency. I was only making about $13 / hour and had to put a lot of extra hours in just to manage my workload, but I’m grateful for the experience because it allowed me to see the bigger picture. I survived financially by working a second job as a restaurant server, nights and weekends, just to be able to pay my bills. During the week at the office, I learned as much as I could about PR and running a business in general. After about a year, I realized what an opportunistic market this is so I branched out and started KC Media. My first clients were acquired through word of mouth, and since then we’ve been able to maintain and add to our portfolio through referrals.
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’m not sure if I would necessarily call this ‘funny’, however I did learn a valuable lesson early on, and it was the first really big business lesson I ever learned. When I started KC Media, I thought bringing on a partner was a smart move for the long run. I assumed they would be able to help my business grow and cover some of the overhead costs. This was before I had even calculated start-up costs and overhead for the first 6 months. So I sat down with the partner I had in mind and got that person really excited about a new venture. Rookie move. I spoke to a mentor of mine who gave me some advice that now seems pretty obvious, and it was “if you can do it on your own, why split the profit and name with someone else?”. I then had to have the uncomfortable conversation with my potential partner about why my need for them was no longer there. Being so early on, this is a conversation I would advise any entrepreneur to avoid having at all costs. So the lesson learned that I can now pass on is that before you make any financial decisions or commitments about your business, do your research. Research is always worth your time.
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?
Those first few clients who believed in me. Not only did they help me out financially by establishing a cushion for my bottom line, but they also set me up mentally. The fact that they put their trust in me and were willing to pay even though I was a brand new agency really made me look in the mirror and think “okay, I can totally do this.” Starting your own business is hard. Even if you’re an expert in your field, it’s a whole new ballgame when you’re signing your own paychecks, so to speak. After seeing results, those first few clients started sending me referrals and still do to this day. I learned about a concept from Ken Blanchard’s book Raving Fans that it’s not enough to have satisfied customers, you have to have raving fans. I can’t stress enough how true that is.
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 a great customer experience is essential for success in business?
The greatest retention program a business has is their reputation. Think about when a friend is sharing their horror story about a restaurant. The food was slow, the servers weren’t friendly, the bill got messed up, the list goes on. After hearing about their experience, you’re going to stay far away from that restaurant without giving it a second thought. Then, think about a friend telling you about the amazing new restaurant they just tried. The food was to die for, the service was exceptional, the facility was clean, the ambiance was great, they were seated right away, and the owner came over to make sure they were totally satisfied with their meals. I bet you’re booking a reservation for next weekend.
Customer service is essential. You have to remember that there’s always going to be someone else who does what you do. What sets you apart is how you make your customer feel. If you look at the biggest, most successful brands in business, most of them have plenty of competitors. The reason they stand out is that they’re not just selling a product or service, they’re truly selling an experience. If the customer wants something, and it’s within reason, make it happen. Go the extra mile and I guarantee you’ll have their business for life. If you make a mistake, own it! Apologize and correct the issue. Even if you don’t feel a mistake was made, it’s far more important to leave a customer feeling like they were heard and cared for, rather than dismissed and taken advantage of. Always make things right.
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?
In my opinion, some companies are growing faster than they can maintain. They’re overwhelmed with the need to meet demand, so they hire without doing their due diligence to make sure that their employees are the right fit for their brand. Don’t make that mistake. I believe much of the disconnect stems from the employer — employee relationship. If your employees understand your company’s mission and they feel like they’re part of the family, they’re more likely to treat the customers as such also. The employer needs to truly understand the importance of customer service and make it part of their mission, then identify clear, daily objectives that enable employees to embody and deliver that exceptional experience.
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?
Absolutely. We always hear clients say how responsive and communicative our team is. We get this compliment so often that we assume not many other companies are offering their customers that type of service. On the contrary, if a customer told us they received a better offer elsewhere, we would take a look at what we need to do and readjust our offer in order to match and stay relevant to our competition. Other external pressures could be poor reviews online, numerous complaints, etc. If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s the power of the internet and specifically Social Media. Don’t let poor customer service become the Scarlett Letter on your brand’s name.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
We try and set calendars and deadlines for our clients so that they know what to expect and when to expect it. Clear communication is a core value of ours that we’re often recognized for. However, there are times when topics or events come up last minute. For example, an article or a Social Media push must go out immediately in order to be effective. This type of attention to outside circumstances and the ability to jump on a trend right away to benefit the client always “Wows” them. Again, proving that they aren’t used to this sort of V.I.P. treatment. When you truly care about the success of your client as if it were your own (because in reality, it is) leaving customers with that “wow” feeling is inevitable.
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
We’ve seen numerous times that our quick response time and attention to detail results in a client referral. It’s actually turned into a ripple effect. This has taught me not to be afraid to ask for referrals, either! I once had a client that wrote us such a raving review, I just asked straight up if they knew anyone else who would benefit from our services. Granted, they did — 3 fold. If you’re unsure how to approach it, respond by saying, “Thank you for choosing us to handle your needs — we’re always happy to do so! Do you know of any other businesses we could help?” Ask while they are still in that Wow! moment. Time is extremely valuable when you’re running a business, and if you catch them soon enough they’ll be more likely to provide you with a new referral.
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.
- Listen to what the customer needs. Instead of getting so caught up in the pitch, truly listen and take note of what they’re looking for. What are their pain points? Where are they looking to improve and how can your services help? Chances are you’ll have to adjust your offer slightly to fit their needs perfectly. Repeat back to them certain language and buzz words that you picked up on. They’ll notice and appreciate you for it.
- Communicate — in every way possible and as often as possible. This is absolutely essential. Have clear and easy to understand conversations, in writing, about what the customer is expecting and what you will be providing. Not only will this help you manage expectations upfront, but it gives you documentation to go back and reference in case anything gets lost in the mix.
- Be available. I’m not saying answer your phone or expect your employees to be available at 11 o’clock at night. However, keep in mind, what you don’t do, a competitor will. If you have a meeting or appointment and you don’t have a staff member answering calls, update your voicemail to say so. You can easily change this again after your meeting, and your clients will appreciate the efficiency.
- If you do have employees, or freelancers, appreciate them. If you’ve ever had a ‘boss’, you understand what I mean. They reflect your name, and if you keep your staff happy, they’ll be more inclined to keep your clients happy.
- Attention to detail. Get extreme with this! Do they have a birthday coming up? An anniversary? Literally ANY life event? Do some digging on Facebook if you aren’t sure. Or simply ask! “Are you celebrating anything this month or next?” Mark it in your calendar and send a thoughtful gift. Trust me, they’ll be blown away and will appreciate that you noticed.
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?
Of course! The power of Social Media is a very real thing. Ask your client to leave a review, and to share it on their Facebook or other Social Media handle. Another idea is to share the success story on your own page and tag them. More times than not, they will comment on the post, thus drawing attention from their audience to your post and your business.
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. 🙂
As cliché as it may sound, a “Say Something Nice” movement seems like exactly what we need this year. Under any post or in response to any comment or conversation that triggers you, instead of preparing for battle, say something nice! The concept isn’t that crazy, is it? 😉
How can our readers follow you on social media?