Transforming the Customer Experience

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Bridge the Gap of Customer Experience Perception

Long lumped in with Customer Service, the entire Customer Experience concept is finally being acknowledged as a weighty differential in the quest to build customer loyalty and increase sales.

Business Leaders everywhere must first understand there is likely a huge gap between the Customer Experience they believe their company delivers and the perception of that same experience their customers have as they work with them.

A recent paper by SuperOffice stated research shows that 80% of businesses believe they are providing excellent customer service. That sounds good, right? BUT – the customers of those same companies feel that only 8% of them deliver excellent customer service. Now THAT should keep you up at night.

While this research states customer service only, I firmly believe the responding customers lumped it in with the entire experience, as that is what motivates customers to return or leave.

Leaders typically look at their business goals, they put some programs and training in place to enhance both the experience and skills, they closely monitor what they think is important to the customers and in doing so… they believe their customers are benefitting from a better experience.

Let me be clear, the fact that they’ve even thought about how their customers perceive them is a great first step. Being aware that customers even have a perception or thought about the subject and wanting to improve on it is key.

But the real issue is they often lack the insight as to what their customers are really thinking… as well as what their employees are thinking.

The ultimate goal is to have as little gap as possible between all three components – Leadership, Staff, and Customer Perception. Currently, as the research indicates, the best of intentions among companies have fallen short.

So, what to do? Pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and start again… with a PLAN.

I often find that leaders think they are on track because they WANT to be on track. No one deliberately decides to go off the rails. But to be sure, a focused analysis needs to be done.

This analysis can be as informal or formal as you’d like…

Meet as a leadership team and discuss the CEX your company delivers at a high level. Ask yourselves these questions…

  1. What do you feel you do well?
  2. What do you feel could be improved?
  3. What does your competition do differently? Are those differences perceived as good or bad?
  4. What do you feel needs to continue to be done or started to improve the CEX? Be as honest and candid as you can during these discussions. There is no blame to be placed, only a plan to improve for the future.

Now, these same questions need to be asked of your staff and your customers. The logistics may take some figuring, but this can be done in a variety of ways conducive to your setting.

My suggestion – Gather your staff and have them break into groups of 6-8 and document their answers to the four questions on one sheet. Analyze the answers from those groups and note the answers for trends and ideas.

Then do the same with customers. Focus groups, a cross section, industry-specific, etc… simply starting is key. Each specific situation may dictate a completely different model than another, but the key is to get the feedback from as many customers as possible to get a true feeling of how they feel your company works with them. Think TripAdvisor.

Next, examine the responses between the three groups – Leadership, Staff, and Customers – and note the disparity and similarities between answers.

All four areas are important…

1)  What you do well indicates what draws your customers back and where staff feels training, empowerment, and capabilities are strong.

2)  What needs to be improved are key indicators of what could cause your customers to leave and staff to become disengaged.

3)  Just because your competition does something differently does not mean your company should adopt their practice, but be aware enough to know if your customers feel those differences add value.

4)  Pay particular attention to what they feel needs to continue to be done. The buy-in here is easily granted because it is already being done and not viewed as “extra work.” Things to start can be prioritized based on a variety of considerations, but be sure to consider each one.

Going through this exercise takes some planning and time, but the insight gained will be worth every bit of effort. Getting into the minds of your staff and customers is the single best way to identifying and bridging the gap between leadership’s and customer’s perceptions of the Customer Experience being delivered.

The Best Way to Prepare Your Teams to Improve the Customer Service and Experience

Business leaders are really starting to jump on board the Customer Experience Bandwagon. And for good reason.  The Customer Experience is no longer just a great idea, it’s now becoming a strategic initiative for more and more companies across the board.

I am often asked how to go about proposing the new focus on the customer experience to the staff and employees within the organization. Managers and owners are often fearful of resistance or lack of buy in. This is to be expected. Most people resist the process of change, regardless of the promised outcome.

The Wrong Way to Prepare Your Teams:  

Start by telling them that customers have been complaining about shoddy service for quite some time. Show them how many customers your team has cost them due to the bad customer service they’ve received.

Tell them that they should feel lucky that they even have jobs in the first place and that they need to step up and do their part and be nice to customers. When they ask what you mean by “be nice to customers” means, tell them just to smile and be friendly.

Tell them that they are going to have to sit through boring trainings where someone is going to tell them what to do. They’d better pay attention to the trainer and do what they say or they are going to be looking for another job soon.

You may laugh at the above examples, but sadly, they are far more common than you’d like to believe.

The Right Way to Prepare Your Teams:

Explain to your teams that…

  • Most companies fail when they start to forget the customer is there SOLE reason for existence.
  • They forget that the customer is the single most important person in their company and take them for granted.
  • The smart and successful companies are now understanding the importance of the experience in the customer’s minds.
  • Customers today are looking to do business with companies that make it simple, pleasant, and memorable.
  • Customers are perfectly willing to spend up to 24% more with companies that deliver a better customer experience than the competitor down the road offering the EXACT same product or service.
  • Our company understands and values the customer and the fact that they have kept us in business since _____.
  • The company wants to invest in the teams to help develop the very best customer experience. We want to set ourselves apart by the service experience we deliver. We know that our customers have a choice of where to buy our product or service and we want them to select us simply because of the fact that we will work with them like no one else will.

Let them know what is coming up for them…

Over the next few months, we are going to be working together through some workshops and trainings to develop our skills in customer relationships.

  • We’ll learn what is important to our customers, what they want, what they expect, and what makes them buy.
  • We’ll discover how to manage their expectations and teach them how to get the most out of working with us.
  • We’ll fine tune our communications strategies to be sure they understand what we are intending to convey both verbally and written.
  • We’ll gain tools to help us work with customers when they are unhappy and turn the situation into one that they are impressed with the way we handled ourselves.
  • We’ll learn a little bit of customer psychology and get into the minds of our customers to help strengthen our relationships with them that we’ve worked so hard to build.
  • We’ll review the basics, become fabulous at the fundamentals, then build on those to become extraordinary.
  • We are so proud of the time and energy you’ve put into this business unit so far and we know that this will also help you feel so much more empowered in your day to day lives here.

Explain what you expect from them…

What is required of you?

  • An open mind.
  • The willingness to learn.
  • The ability to look at things from different perspectives.
  • The dedication to implement what you’ve learned.
  • The awareness that striving to improve does not mean you’ve been doing anything wrong, but that improving is always looking to make it even better.
  • The desire to do everything you can to serve our customers and our company to the very best of your abilities.
  • The courage to challenge the status quo.

Following these guidelines will dramatically improve the way that your team participates and works with you in your efforts to develop and improve your service and your culture.

Please click here for the podcast that further explains the above steps to gain more buy in from your teams.

You can listen to more episodes of the Transforming the Customer Experience Podcast series by clicking here.

Please share your thoughts below!

Transforming the Customer Experience Podcast

 

Stop Kidding Yourself! Are You Interested or Committed to Delivering Amazing Customer Service?

“I’d kill to have a golf swing like that!”

“I’d do ANYTHING to lift that much weight and look like that!”

We’ve all heard, and made, statements like this about something in either our personal or professional lives. But really, we are all a bunch of liars.

Yes, that sounds extreme, but let me explain… I’ll tie this in to Customer Service and the Customer Experience quickly.

That golf pro… Before he or she turned pro, they likely went to the course in the wee hours of the morning and practiced a full 90 minutes before going to their “job” only to return again after work, day in… day out. They sacrificed many moments that most of us take for granted to get them closer to their true goal… to be the absolute best they could be and turn pro.

That fabulous looking person in the gym (I’m not talking about the steroid pumpers)… They watch everything they eat. They train methodically and diligently.  They let the scoffing over their eating habits roll of their skin. They don’t judge those that eat differently, yet find themselves subject to ridicule because of their strictness to their own eating and training regimine. “Can’t you just let loose and have fun this ONE time?”

Many of us are not prepared to put in the time and effort it takes to be in the top 5% of anything… sport, physical fitness… or business success.

So, you say you deliver the best customer service and make the experience your customers have better than they can get anywhere else?  Really.

If I were to walk in your doors, or call your company, and ask the first five people I see what your company stands for and how it works with customers better than anyone else, I’d bet that I’d get five blank stares… and then some sheepish off the cuff made up answers.

So my question to you is this… Are you INTERESTED in focusing on your customers and creating a culture that is centered around them, or are you COMMITTED?

Interested companies gather a little information, talk about it from time to time, hire a consultant, might spend a little money for a workshop or training session, and believe that they are on the right track.

Committed companies do research, not only hire coaches – but DO THE WORK, talk about and focus on the customer experience incessantly, create a unified vision of the ideal customer experience, hire and train the right folks to support that ideal experience and HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE for excellent customer service delivery, they get feedback from their customers as to how they are doing, etc.

So, the golf pro and the body builder, they have a goal. They have clarity. They have a vision of success. They. Do. The. Work.

Are you willing to step up and stop talking the talk? Walk the talk. Develop a culture focused on the most important person in your company – the CUSTOMER.  Not sure where to get started? Click here…

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