Transforming the Customer Experience

Category : cultural mindset

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Customer Satisfaction – She absolutely Will!!

This is a follow up to my last post which detailed my under-whelming experience in one branch of a large retail chain supermarket.

I went to the location at which I usually do my shopping.  After getting my non-perishables, I headed to the deli for, yes, more sandwich meat and a roasted chicken.  I walked up to the case where the chicken is kept.  While selecting my chicken, one of the staff came around the case to put in a few more.  She looked up at me and with a big smile said “Hi there! How are you today? Are you finding everything you need?”  I told her I was great.  I also told her how much I liked it that this location had the fastest selling deli meat presliced and ready to go so people didn’t have to wait in line.  I told her that I noticed the other store didn’t have that, but worse yet, the staff there was not nearly as hospitable or helpful as she was.  She said that she was sorry that I had encountered that situation.  She said that she had been in the break room at this location a while ago and really looked at a poster on the wall that had been there for quite some time.  She said that it is a picture with the caption – “Customer Service is Not Just a Job, It’s an Attitude.”  That seemed to make an impression on her.  She said that she felt it was so true that “because without the customers that buy from us everyday, none of us would have jobs.  I just try to make the customers smile and enjoy it here enough that they want to come back to us.”

Wow!  This is exactly the type of attitude that we all want to have within each member of our team within our companies and organizations.  She really understands the trickle down effect of the fact that when the customers are given good customer service, then they are satisfied customers.  With high customer satisfaction, the customer loyalty and retention increases.  Any time that customer retention increases, the impact is positive on the bottom line reflecting increased profits.

Again, this large chain supermarket does many things well.  They offer great prices, have nice stores that are well laid out, and clearly have some excellent customer service oriented staff.  If the service and amenities were consistent across all stores, it would enable the customers to have more flexibility.  They would know that know matter which location they were in, they would receive the expected high level of service and amenities each and every time.

Customer Service – Is it in your DNA?

When I meet with prospective clients, one of the first questions that I ask is “What is the main purpose for your company and how do your customers fit into that?”  What is interesting is how many companies haven’t really identified their main purpose.  They do have an idea that interested them enough to start their business in the first place, but they haven’t truly defined exactly what their main purpose or goals are.  Often I find that they assume that because they have established their business, customers will come.  “Build it and they will come” only worked in the movie “Field of Dreams.”

Excellent customer service needs to be one of the driving forces in any sustainable business.  The customer’s needs must be address on a continual basis in any process or product.  The core values of the company must be customer centric and recognize that the way to truly succeed is to develop the culture geared toward the customer and their mindset.  The DNA of the company should focus on the customer at every angle. Increased levels of customer satisfaction are the direct result of more attention being given to customer service.

Once the purpose and vision of the company is determined, what products and services are congruent with those.  How is the customer factored into these?  By getting feedback and input from your customers and focusing on serving them with the vision of the company in mind, the greater the chances of business success and sustainability.

Help Your Customers – Increase Their Loyalty and Customer Satisfation

Overflowing basketPlease tell me that you’ve done what I did yesterday….  I went in to the supermarket to just pick up a gallon of milk, some eggs, and a loaf of bread.  But, when I passed the chips ailse, I picked up some that were on sale, a bag of apples, three cartons of yogurt, and a block of cheese.  Notice that no where in here have I mentioned that I actually got a cart.  My basket was already overflowing as I went down the frozen food ailse to get some frozen vegetables.  I do this quite frequently, intending to get only a few things, but then stop for impulse purchases or remember something esle we need at home.

Thankfully, I happened to shop at D&W yesterday and thier slogan is “D&W- A Nicer Place to Be”  Well, yesterday it really was a “Nicer Place to Be” because as I was headed down the freezer ailse, one of their associates saw me starting to struggle with my already too full basket.  He immediately came up to me and said “You look like you bit off a bit more than you intended.  Please let me get you a shopping cart to make this easier for you.”  He then took my basket out of my hands, asked me to wait a moment, and then came back with all of my groceries now placed in a cart wheeling toward me.  He then asked me if there was anything else that I needed.  I asked where the artichoke hearts were.  Instead of just gestering me in a general direction, or telling me which ailse they were on, he walked me over three ailses and helped me find them.

This was a welcome example of excellent customer service. Just by taking a literal burden off of my hands and literally providing me with a better solution without having to ask for it, this gentleman earned my customer loyalty.  The prices at this particular supermarket do tend to run a little bit higher than the mega store in town, but when I have customer service like this, I can certainly justify spending a bit more because the service sells itself.

He practiced perfect customer service.  He identified a situation that could use some help, he approached me in a friendly and non-condescending way, took my basket and made the trip to the cart station himself, and walked me to where my next purchase was located.  The best part, he figured all of this out on his own and I did not have to ask for any help at all.

By simply using these customer service techniques, this store has very high levels of customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and retention.  Thier cultural mindset is certainly one that is customer centric and providing service excellence.

Being Customer Centric – Good Customer Service Equals High Customer Satisfaction

I receive the “Simple Truths” newsletter and glean so many practical business and life lessons from it.  Here is an excerpt that is truly worth passing on.  I highly recommend signing up for this newsletter.

The power of focus is critical to your success in business…and also in life. I must admit, however, that this is something that took me a while to learn, and I have a few “battle scars” to show what happens to slow learners regarding this issue. “More is better” sounds reasonable, but I’ve learned the opposite is usually true. Less, I’ve discovered, is usually more. The reason, of course, is that there is something powerful about laser-like focus. Having a simple, clearly defined goal can capture the imagination and enthusiasm of your people. It can cut through the night like a beacon. It can bring an idea to life.

SAS 737

In 1985, Jan Carlson had just been named the CEO of Scandinavian Airlines. His company was in trouble. They had just been ranked by a consumer poll as the worst airline in the world. Last in service, last in dependability, and last in profits as a percentage of sales. Yet one year later, in the same poll, they were ranked number one in all three categories. What happened?

Carlson had decided to focus on what he thought was the most critical issue…serving the customer. He wanted to keep it simple: identify every contact between the customer and the employee and treat that contact as “a moment of truth.” He set out to let his people know the importance of that moment…the captain, the ticket agent, the baggage handler, the flight attendant. “Every moment, every contact” he said, “must be as pleasant, and as memorable as possible.” He figured that he had approximately ten million customers each year, and on average each customer made contact with five of his people for approximately fifteen seconds apiece. Therefore, in his mind, these fifty million contacts, fifteen seconds at a time, would determine the fate of his company.

He set out to share his vision with his twenty thousand employees. He knew the key was to empower the front line. Let them make the decisions and take action, because they were Scandinavian Airlines during those fifteen seconds. He now had twenty thousand people who were energized and ready to go because they were focused on one very important thing…making every moment count.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

“Friendliness” Ranks High for Customer Satisfaction

When making hiring decisions within your organization, be sure to consider the “friendliness factor.”

Customers make their purchasing decisions based on how they feel.  When they are developing relationships with their service and product supplies, a person who smiles, is inviting, and is easy to talk to ranks high in the preferred qualities that customers list.  Be aware that the “Friendliness Factor” is not always something you can train for.  It really is based on the personality of the associates we hire.

This mentality is based on the premise that we place a lot of trust in our friends.  If we translate this into the business world, the customers who are treated as “friends” by our staff that is “friendly” are much more likely to do business with us rather than our competitors, who view them simply as a “customer.”

Remember that the number one reason cited almost 70% of the time as the main reason for leaving a business is solely based on the customer experience.  It’s just plain and good customer service to be nice and friendly.  Our “friendliness” is responsible for successful and sustainable relationships that not only exceed the expectations of our customers, but increase our profits as well.

Be Customer Centric: Learn Your Customer’s Names

“Where everybody knows your name………….. And you’re always glad you came……….” The lyrics to the opening song on the old sitcome “Cheers” really do hold a lot of relevance in today’s business world. Think about it, why did the old gang always meet at “Cheers” at the end of the day or when they needed someone to talk to?  Because everyone knew who they were and they were good friends, and most likely, as close as family.

In today’s business world, consumers are looking for relationships and certainty.  The most basic thing, such as learning your customer’s name, will make a deep impression on them.  It shows that you value them enough to make the effort to remember their name.

In the article Make Your Customers Feel Special: Learn Their Names it goes to show how important this really is and how much your customers are at the focal point of your business.

It needs to be part of your cultural mindset and practice to learn your customers names.  Unless you are greeting over 100 customers a day in your business, you really do need to come up with ways to learn names.  Your team needs to develop ways to integrate the customer name into their “scripts” in order to help remembering them.  After a few visits, people have, and will continue to, find new suppliers of products or services if they feel as if they are a “”first time customer” with no sign of recognition, when in fact they have been in your environment several times. The best way to decrease customer retention and to lose customer loyalty is to act as if you have never seen them before.

Being customer centric is providing good customer service and keeping your customers happy.  If the relationships are not being fostered at your business, they will take their money to your competitors who will take the time and effort to form relationships with them.

Think and Grow Rich -Increase Your Customer Satisfaction Levels by Staying in Contact with Your Customers

Staying in contact with your customers has many advantages, both for you and for them.

Follow up is an excellent way to remind your clients that you are interested in their satisfaction with your product or service.  Ask them how the project/product is functioning for them and what suggestions or feedback they have.  By doing this, you are also getting excellent feedback to use for further business development on your end.

Email and newsletters are beneficial for reminding customers that you are their first resource for their need.  If you maintain a presence in their mind, they will not need to look for a source other than you.   This serves as profit enhancement for you because you will be first on their mind.

Let your customers and clients know of new products and services that you have available.  Since they came to you before, they will be more likely to explore your entire line or package to further benefit themselves.

It’s good customer service to stay connected to your customers. By keeping a connection with your customers, you are sustaining the relationship that will translate into increased customer satisfaction. They will be reminded that you are looking out for them and want to be on their team.  Being ready, willing, and able to help conveys to your customers that you truly value them and want to be the provider to help them.

The relationship that you build through consistent contact will prove fruitful by way of customer retention and loyalty, both of which will bring increased profits to you and your company.

Increase Your Customer Satisfaction Levels! SMILE!!

A smile is a universally known and understood gesture.  It transcends all languages and cultures.

It speaks loudly to your customers and increases your customer satisfaction levels significantly.  Just this one simple gesture makes customers feel at ease in your environment.  It will also brighten the mood of your associates.

I notice all of the salespeople and receptionists who miss the opportunity to build a deeper rapport with me by not smiling or making eye contact.  Once I point this out in my presentations, people readily identify with the fact that it is such a simple gesture that makes such a difference.

Have your office, store, or organization make it a friendly competition to challenge themselves to make their first gesture with each customer a genuine smile.  You’ll be amazed at how happy your customers will be to see this.  They will ask better questions, be more receptive to help and advice, and customer satisfaction levels will increase.

At the very least, you will feel a bit better yourself, and that is something to smile about!

Informed Teams Result in Happy Customers!

The best way to have your team members and associates truly be able to answer questions from your customers is to have them experience, use, and taste your products and services.  This way, they will be giving the customer information that they are looking for from the perspective of the user.

The topic for this post came up the other day as I was eating in a restaurant with a client.  I asked the server about a menu item.  She was very polite when she informed me that she had not ever had the dish in question.  She did say that serveral other diners ordered it often and enjoyed it.

This lead to a discussion with my client about how important it is for those within our company to know as much as possible about each product and service.  Customer service training should include training in our services and products we are providing. For example, in a restaurant, the servers should eat every single menu item so that they are able to tell the diners how things taste and are prepared.  Associates in a home improvement store should be well versed in the producst they are selling so that they may be able to tell the customers which ones will best suit their project needs.  Isn’t it frustrating when you go into a store and ask a question and the associate picks up the box and starts reading it?  I can do that myself.

Customers want to get information from those that should know the products and can explain the benefits and drawbacks.  This will build the rapport with the customer and make them happy that they are not just taking a shot in the dark.  Good customer service and csutomer satisfaction comes from truly serving the customer by proving them the information they are looking for from an informed perspective.

Handle Your Angry Customers with Empathy

Customer satisfaction is the determining factor in most business decisions.  When people spend their money, they want to be certain that they are spending it with the people who will work with them, even when challenges arise.

A recently printed article titled Top 6 Things Not To Do With Angry Customers does a very good job of outlining the very things that we may very much WANT to do, but in good business practices, simply cannot.

Angry customers are a challenge and there will always be some customers that are difficult to manage.  However, the first thing to try with them is to use empathy.  This will make them feel that you are trying to understand their viewpoint.  While they are hoping that you will agree with them, simply using empathy at first will help diffuse the emotional component.

Once you have calmed the customer down a bit but being understanding and using phrases such as “I know this is can be very frustrating.  Let’s sit down together and see what exactly is going on and we will find a way to work it through.”

This has now put you on your customer’s team and their anxiety will not be nearly as high.

The main goal is to turn your angry customers into your happy customers so that they will spread the word about you and your products.  How you handle difficult situations and customer will greatly impact their faith in your focus on the customer’s perspective.

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