Transforming the Customer Experience

Category : Customer Experience Management

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Making the Extra Effort Creates an Experience – Part 1

Making the mundane memorable is the key ingredient in customer experience management.

I had the good fortune to attend a luncheon today held by the Grand Rapids Business Journal honoring the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan.  It was wonderful to see the efforts of so many women pay off and be recognized for their leadership in our business world and in our communities.

During the luncheon, I was seated next to a woman who is a Senior Vice President of Huntington Bank.  She told me two very interesting stories that I wanted to pass along.  One deals with making a small extra effort and the other is just in how we treat people.

One of the customer service representatives in a branch recently became aware of a customer having some physical limitations.  It was difficult for the customer to get out of her car and get into the branch without much pain.  The customer service representative then asked the customer to call her before she left her house as she was on her way to the bank.  The bank representative then met the customer in the parking lot and performed the bank transaction.  Did this effort cost the bank any money at all? No.  Did this effort make a large difference to the customer, both physically and emotionally?  Absolutely.

The next example involves a hiring decision.  My lunch partner asked an interviewee why she was applying for a position with Huntington Bank.  The interviewee responded “My grandparents have accounts with this bank and they say that it is the nicest bank around.”  By treating these people well, Huntington Bank has retained the business of this couple and has engaged them not only to recruit potential customers, but bank associates as well. Clearly, the grandparents had been treated kindly during their interactions with the bank and felt that it had the culture that would befit their granddaughter working there.

While the examples are isolated, the premise takes place each and every day in companies both large and small, all across the country, even throughout the world.  The one common denominator is that someone took an ordinary experience and made it memorable.

Tomorrow – Part 2 of the wonderful service from the hotel hosting the luncheon – the JW Marriott.

Hospitality Advice on Service – Do You Have Guests or Customers?

Hospitality dictates that customers are “Guests”in our business

We all strive to excel in customer experience management.  Judging by my last post, there is a lot of interest involving the words that we use and the phrasing of our words when focusing on the customer experience.  Words make up only 7% of our communication (body language is 58% and tone of voice is 35%).  So, that means we need to choose our words wisely.

I was meeting with a prospective client yesterday and we discussed this very topic.  Her family owns four restaurants in town.  During our conversation,she referred to the patrons as customers, while I referred to them as “guests.”  She asked me why I was making the distinction between the two words.

Since we were in the restaurant setting, I used the analogy of people coming to her home to eat dinner or to her restaurant to eat dinner.  I asked her how she would treat the people coming to her house.  She replied “I treat my guests very well.  I try to make them feel like family.”  As soon as those words were out of her mouth, she understood what I meant.  Especially since we were talking about the same meal, just served in two different places.

The guests coming to her house were most likely not paying her to serve them dinner.  They were invited guests that she was looking forward to spending time with.  Take this same thought into her business – a restaurant.  She is looking to increase marketing to increase business. By referring to the customer as a guest, it makes them feel special, that she was looking forward to serving them a meal, and increases the positive feelings of the dining experience.  Remember, it is the feeling that our customers/guests have that determine if they will return to us.

While not all industries can use the term guests appropriately for customers, many can.  Use your good judgement.  It may be the difference that makes the difference. Theme parks, hotels, restaurants, and the entire hospitality industry use the word “guest” as opposed to “customer” whenever possible.  Mirriam-Webster defines “guest” as a person to whom hospitality is extended.  My advice to any client, manager, or business owner is to be as hospitable as possible when interacting with customers.

Because customers are paying you to treat them well while they are doing business with you, all business should treat them as guests.

Would You Like to Improve the Customer Experience?

Customer experience management comes down to positively enhancing the feelings that the customer has when they do business with us. The simple way we phrase things can make a big impact on the feeling that the customer has during our interactions.

I’d like to share with you a brief two minute video I made explaining the nuance of how changing just a few simple words we use everyday can increase customer satisfaction and the positive tone of the message.

Please leave your feedback below.  I’d like to hear your comments.

Please share your comments and feedback below.

Helping you focus on your customers-

Kristina

Improve Customer Service by Holding Staff Accountable

Dear Manager,

Managing the customer experience and my ability to improve the customer service I deliver will now be my main focus in the upcoming year.  My supervisor just gave me my annual performance evaluation and I noticed that 50% of the review focused on customer service and a customer centric culture.

At most companies, the statement “Focus on the Customer” is usually just a lot of talk.  Sure, it’s addressed once in a while, but rarely have I seen a performance appraisal that stresses customer focus so heavily.  What you are really telling me is how well I treat our customers is just as important as my daily job responsibilities.  Since my compensation is directly tied in to my performance evaluation, you can bet that I’m going to pay more attention to that.

When we went over the customer centric culture last month, we did spend a lot of time discussing how each of our teams could improve the customer relationship.  During my review, my supervisor started asking me how I had implemented some of those ideas.  I was embarrassed to say that I hadn’t actually done any of it, just thought about it from time to time.  Now, I’ll really have to make sure I follow through.

I have to admit, this change is going to be a bit of a challenge.  Before, you were pretty hands off.  Now that you are more focused on the customer service and satisfaction levels, it’s going to take some getting used to.  Don’t get me wrong, I can rise to the challenge.  It might not happen overnight, but with you making me accountable for the service levels you expect, if my job is important to me, I’ll do it.

Sincerely yours,

Your staff

Customer Experience Management – Practice What You Preach

Dear Employer –

Customer Experience Management has been a hot topic around our company lately.  You have been giving us many motivational talks about it, but there is something that would really help us out – leading by example.

You serve as a role model to us. If you disregard the customers, focus only on the business and not the customer driving it, or don’t walk the talk, how would we know to do otherwise?  We really need you to practice what you preach. You are our business role model and set the expectation by how you relate to our customers.

To excel at managing the customer experience, we need the leadership to set the example and it will trickle down throughout the entire company.  When you set the tone for improving customer service and to delight our customers, we will then follow suit.

We’ll treat our customers the same way that you treat them, and even us.

We want to make sure that the ideals that you are holding us to are not just merely mission and vision statements that hang on the wall in our lobby.  We want to embrace the customer centric culture we promise and to live it each and every day.

Thanks for listening,

Your staff

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