Transforming the Customer Experience

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What is More Important to an Upset Customer – Cash or an Apology?

 

Upset customers and clients are part of any business.  We don’t like to admit that it’s true, but the simple fact is that customers will be disappointed with us, our products, or our services from time to time.  This is when most people in business get nervous and don’t know exactly how to manage upset customers.  Many figure that the customer is going to be unreasonable in their demands on how to fix the issue, expect products or services for free, that they can’t admit to any wrong doing for fear of retribution by the company or the customer taking advantage of the situation, etc.

The good news is that what they really want are two very simple words – I’m sorry.

Really, it’s that simple.  Now, simple doesn’t mean easy.  You have to genuinely mean it when you say it.  The customer wants the empathy for their inconvenience and dissatisfaction before we even try to resolve the situation.  Without the empathy , if you deliver a flippant “So sorry,” it just won’t fly.

Once we convey our apologies, the consumer is much more likely to work with us to find a mutually agreeable solution to the problem.  And, aside from the few exceptions that we all know about, most customers are reasonable and fair in their expectations for resolution.

There is an article in www.dailymail.co.uk that will be surprising to many.  It states that when resolving a problem with a customer, most customers value a true and genuine apology over receiving a cash payout from the company.

The article is based on a study conducted by the Nottingham School of Economics’ Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics.  NSE research fellow and study co-author Dr Johannes Abeler claimed the results proved apologies were both powerful and cheap.

The study was done using a seller on ebay who generated 10,000 sales per month over a six month period dealing with their unhappy customers.  The researches predicted that customers would not accept the apology over the cash.  The apology was given by a faceless company, not face to face, and was certainly in the best interest of the company to apologize rather than to pay out money.

The stand-alone apology blamed the manufacturer for a delay in delivery, adding: ‘We are very sorry and want to apologise for this.’

Customers offered money were told: ‘As a goodwill gesture, we can offer you five euros if you would consider withdrawing your evaluation.’

Some 45 per cent of participants withdrew their evaluation in light of the apology, while only 23 per cent agreed in return for compensation.

The study also discovered that a higher purchase price further reduced the number of customers willing to forgive for cash.

Yet the size of the initial outlay had no effect on the willingness of participants to settle for simply reading the magic words: ‘I’m sorry.’

This goes to show that throwing money at a problem is not necessarily the answer.  People want an apology for mistakes and for responsibility to be taken.  Consumers today recognize that issues arise.

Remember, the problem is not going to define you or your company.  How you respond to it will.  Customer satisfaction and customer retention rates dramatically improve when a company has taken the time and effort to serve the customer relationship.  By focusing on customer service through staff training to include an apology when necessary, you will see customer satisfaction levels increase.

Google “Gets” the Customer Experience Through Service

I’m sure that Google is under impressed with my internet skills. I’ll start right off by saying that I am certainly no “techie” and that any errors that you find on this site are likely going to be “operator error.”  Me being that operator.

That being said, I ventured off into the world of “techies” to write some articles and needed to find some keywords to capture my target audience.  In the process, it appeared that when I signed into Google to use their tool, it required me to create an ad.  I don’t do ads for my business and was not interested in that at all.  After spending about 30 minutes trying to navigate the site, watching the instructional video, and extreme frustration setting in, I finally contacted Google at their contact number.

After going through about 4 different automated attendant menus (which I can’t stand) I then waited for the customer service rep for about 2 minutes.  Based on the auto attendant process, I was prepared to have someone be very aloof, indifferent, and even a bit condescending to me about my lack of internet programming knowledge.

I couldn’t have been more impressed with the empathy and caring nature of the Google CSR that took my call.  She completely empathized with my situation and assured me that she would walk me through the process without me having to create an actual ad.  With her help, I was able to get the help that I needed and I was on my way.  I was even so happy that I mentioned how impressed I was with her help to my husband later that day and so relieved that it was such a pleasant experience when I was expecting a painful one.

My point is this…  Business owners should make it easy for their customers to ask for help and assistance.  Not everyone knows how to use the products and services they purchase and help should be easily available.  Customers cite many occasions when they look for assistance but are either unable to find it or are so frustrated by the process, they just neglect the purchase and vow never to do business with that company again.

This dilemma knows no boundaries.  It doesn’t matter if you are a small or large businesses, corporation or “Mom and Pop” shop, financial institution, fast food vendor, pet store, or medical office.  Your customers will ask for help. It’s your responsibility to give it to them… with kindness.

Your thoughts?

 

Spreading Holiday Cheer with an AMAZING Customer Experience

This just made my heart warm!  West Jet in Canada did what most of us would dream to do for our customers… took an ordinary situation and made it extraordinary!

I know, I get it… your business can’t afford to go to the lengths that West Jet did, but you can take the same premise and deliver the same feeling.  Ask your customers (or a percentage of them) what their favorite charity is and help organize an evening of volunteering for them.  Or, ask a select few what they’d like for Christmas and do exactly what West Jet did.  Or, ask a few of them what their favorite chocolate or coffee indulgence is and make a special delivery for them or have it on hand at your next meeting.

Spreading cheer is what this season is all about.  For our customers we should have this mindset all of the time, but what a special opportunity to really focus on this.  Do something special, whether large or small, just do something special and unexpected to put a smile on your customers face!

Click on the image below that is linked to the video and enjoy! It will be the best 5 minutes of your day…  I promise.

 

Customer Service Question -Does Your Business Have a Pulse or a Wire?

Where’s the customer service these days?

Improving customer service and the customer experience is more important now more than ever. And the best part is – it’s SIMPLE.  Keep in mind, simple doesn’t always mean easy, but it can be started simply by focusing on the fact that you are people delivering products and services to other people.

One of the biggest complaints that I hear about companies today is that they are so “processy” and “systematized” that customers wonder if humans work there or is the place being run by robots?

Yes, we need to have processes and systems to run our businesses, but the people running the business need to be just that – PEOPLE.

Customers are looking for one main thing in their transactions that can set you apart from your competition, or anyone else they’ve recently done business with – a RELATIONSHIP.  When people buy from you, they aren’t buying your product or service, they are buying the promise that you will answer their questions, help them find the best product or service you offer to meet their needs, to hold their hand throughout the process, and be there to help if they run into trouble.

Yes, people consider product and price, but with both of those being comparable, the decision always comes down to emotion.  People make their buying decisions based on emotion, then back it up with logic.  If they feel like they know, trust, and like you, then they are likely to buy from you.

Customer service is about delivering a quality product or service, but then providing the emotional support of service.  This means that you need to engage with customers, get to know them, ask what they are trying to accomplish, what are their struggles in this accomplishment, etc.  When you truly engage from a genuine place of customer service and it is your goal to do everything you can to delight that customer, you’ll win a customer for life.

Businesses that don’t focus on the customer relationship are those that are filled with ominous forms, stores with lackluster salespeople, customer service reps that barely look you in the eye, and seem completely disinterested in being there until quitting time.

Energize your staff, especially now during holiday shopping season, and remind them that without the customers, they’d have no place to earn paycheck.  These customers need to be treated like gold.  They want to see smiling, happy faces that are ready, willing, and able to help them.

If you settle for anything less, you may as well hire a robot to serve your customers.

 

Amazon Delights Customers with Sunday Delivery

Online retailers have always used Amazon as the standard to strive for when competing for customer loyalty and satisfaction.  But now, the renowned online retailer has yet again surpassed expectations for  the customer experience in the larger metropolitan areas by offering Sunday deliveries.

This is yet another example of “What is extraordinary today will become tomorrow’s minimum standard.”

The Business Insider just announced that Amazon will begin offering Sunday deliveries to it’s customers on November 17.  Yes, this is a move to drive more shoppers to enroll in their Prime program, but I see it as a way to yet again exceed the expectation of the customers.

Smart companies continually ask themselves “How can we take an ordinary experience and make it stand out?”  Certainly, delivery of products doesn’t leave much room for fancy workings, but teaming up with the USPS to make it happen is something that has never been done before and certainly takes things to the next level.  While most of us may not NEED Sunday delivery, the fact that their stock prices more than quadrupled in a few hours certainly indicates it is something that most consumers WANT.

Discovering what consumers WANT and delivering it is the magic sauce.  Of course, most companies don’t wield that level of influence, but what can your company do to make ordinary processes seem special?  What can you do to make yourself stand out in a way that makes the mundane seem delightful?

Once you come up with that answer, look for ways to make it happen.  Rather than listen to the naysayers, simply say “I know we can’t right now, but what would it take to make that happen?”  As they are listing everything that would need to change, they are giving you the action steps needed.  So, take action and make it happen.  Delight those customers in ways they haven’t expected.  Then, rinse and repeat.

Your customers will thank you for it.  Just ask Amazon how well it works.

I’d love to hear your comments below.

 

Get the Feedback From Your Teams Improves Customer Service

You Gotta Listen!
Continuing on with Customer Service Week, we are focusing on encouraging our internal teams to foster the customer centric attitudes and service.

 
Tip # 4 – Get Feedback from Your Teams and Staff to Find Out What They Need to Help Them Serve Customers Better and Enjoy Their Jobs More
 
You’ve all been reading my newsletters long enough, so you know how much I advocate getting feedback from your customers whenever possible.
 
The same holds true for your staff.  You need to find out what it is that they need or would like that would help them serve customers better and give them more reason to like their jobs.
Ask questions…. then LISTEN to the answers.
 
This is where you’ll discover what you team would like to take over, what would make them more efficient, what processes don’t work, are redundant, or simply make life too complicated.
 
You’ll also find ways to reward your teams.  One of my clients found that their phone contact center liked the specialty coffee he sometimes brings in over the doughnuts that are more frequently offered.  So, this week he bought them a Keurig coffee maker with their favorite coffee flavors.  
 
Like any relationship, it’s the little things that count.  Pay attention to your staff.  You tell them to pay attention to customers… you need to do the same thing with them.  Your staff is just as important.

SHARE Your Ideal Customer Centric Vision with Your Teams

Continuing on with Customer Service Week, we are focusing on encouraging our internal teams to foster the customer centric attitudes and service.

 

 
Tip # 2 –  Share Your Vision with EVERYONE in your company.
 
It’s not a secret.  It needs to be shouted from the rooftops, okay training rooms and reception area, of your company.  You need to define your ideal customer experience and what it looks like from the customer perspective.  When you define it, then you need to share it with your teams so that everyone knows it, understands it, and embodies it.
It doesn’t matter if you are a “Mom and Pop” shop or a larger company, you must share your vision of exactly what your ideal Customer Experience looks like at all levels.  Your entry level positions should have the same vision as the CEO or owner of the company.
 
Ideally, you can share your vision with everyone during training on the very first day they begin working with you.  They’ll know immediately why your company is different and what their role is in making customers feel that difference.
That being said, sharing that vision must also be a continual process.  We all know that information shared once tends to be forgotten.  By keeping the vision of the ideal customer experience clear and present throughout the company, it will quickly become ingrained into your culture.
 
Leadership must interact regularly with teams, lead by example, discuss ideas and suggestions, and continually examine how the current state of the customer experience is moving toward the vision of the ideal.
It’s no accident that Disney, Ritz-Cartlon, Nordstrom, and Apple are known for exemplary customer experiences.  They have clearly defined that customer experience and how everyone plays into it.

Customer Service Week – 5 Tips in 5 Days!

The First of Five Tips for 
Customer Service Week
So I’m thinking that it’s wonderful to have Customer Service Week to encourage our teams to work in the best interest of the customer and improve our service delivery, but I have one question…

 
Why are we dedicating only ONE week per year to focus on Customer Service and the Customer Experience?
 
We should be doing this Each. And. Every. Week. All. Year. Long.
 
Tip #1 –  Communication is a Two Way Street
We know that customer relationships are built on trust and communication.  The same holds true for your internal teams.
 
You need to be sure that you are in touch with your teams and understand what they see as an opportunity and where they are facing challenges.
 
I’m a big fan of huddles.  Huddles are something that football teams do before a play.  Business leaders need to huddle either as a team or one-on-one with their team players to discover what they need to know and how to encourage and set them up for success.
 
The huddle is also a fantastic time for leaders to be open to ideas and suggestions from their teams.  After all, they are most likely spending more time interacting with customers than the leader is.
Customer Service Skills – Do You Train Well Enough?
70% of consumers stop doing business with a company because they aren’t feeling valued or that the company doesn’t engage with them.

If you lost one customer each week, what would that mean to your bottom line?

To help you, during Customer Service Week, I’m reducing the fee for my “Training for the Best Customer Service Skills – Start to Finish”  .  You’ll still get all of the benefits and modules, but because you are in my community, you get the reward of a special price!
Many of you have already invested in this training for your teams and have responded with great results and stories.
Take action now to be sure that your efforts during Customer Service Week don’t fall prey to the “All Talk – No Action” pitfall that plagues so many companies today.

Who Is Your Biggest Competitor? It’s Not Who You Think…

When working with companies that are focused on getting new customers, I always ask them who their biggest competitor is.  As expected, I typically hear the names of their competition in their industry.  They are shocked  when I tell them they are only partially right.

The competition is the company that gave customers their last positive memorable customer experience, regardless of industry.  That’s who businesses are being compared to in the mind of the customer.

So it doesn’t matter if you are an office equipment dealer, restaurant, or medical office.  Your customer is comparing the service you deliver to the experience that perhaps their dry cleaner gives them.  Their dry cleaner knows their name, smiles, engages in conversation, asks them how their business and family are, and makes doing business with them simple and quick.  A simple exchange, but one that is focused on engagement, is what customers are craving.

In understanding this premise, focus your attention on every aspect of the customer experience.  Ways to do this…

  1. Build a customer touch point map
  2. Define the ultimate customer experience to perfection at each touchpoint
  3. Train staff to deliver that ideal ultimate experience
  4. Ask customers for feedback on ways to improve
  5. Rinse and repeat

It’s good to have competition.  It gives you a measurement to gauge your service delivery by.  It’s not okay to let your competition surpass you simply because you didn’t try.

Next week is Customer Service Week.  This is a great time to examine what you can do to create that positive lasting impression in the mind of your customers.

 

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