Transforming the Customer Experience

Category : Customer Experience Management

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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?

 

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.

 

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.

Customer Service Consistency Is More Important Now Than Ever Before….

86% of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience, up from 59% 4 years ago

Source: Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report

Consumer confidence increases when consistent results are produced. They will return to you again and again when you have not only built a sold relationship with them, but when they are certain that they can count on consistent results time after time.

Customer satisfaction increases based on consistency and relationships.
 Relationships, whether professional or personal, are built on the solid foundation of trust. This trust extends into a level of service that is depended upon.

Fluctuations in service will result in disheartened referrals.
 Should your consistency fluctuate, the referral will sound like “Try XYZ Company. Sometimes they do a pretty good job.” The referral that you want is “I recommend that you call ABC Company. They consistently deliver a quality product and they will treat you well. I know you’ll be happy with them.”

They want to know that what they see and feel one time is what they can count on in future interactions.Regardless if you are going into a chain coffee house, hiring a caterer, working with a realtor, or working with a large office furniture manufacturer, customers want consistent quality products and services. Customers will be much more likely to refer their associates to you when you have consistently shown a track record for results.

Relationships factor greatly into the consistency equation. The customer is looking to see if they are being treated well each and every time. They are looking to see if they are treated the same way by everyone in the organization. Customers will figure out quickly who will and won’t help them in a company. Your customer service reputation is only as strong as your weakest link. All associates in your company need to be delivering excellent customer service, in each and every interaction.

Review your core values regularly to determine that they are being considered in every interaction with your customers.
 The customer will recognize the consistency of exceeding their expectations while holding true to the core values your company was built upon.

Please comment below with your thoughts!

Customers Want Compassion in a Tense Situation

Own Up and Step Up When You Blow It

A few weeks ago, you may have seen CNN or been made aware of an incident involving a salon owner allegedly berating a young mother whose child was crying during his haircut.  Once the mother was brought to tears, she was heard by other patrons saying “I’m sorry.  He’s autistic.”  The mother left the salon in tears and the stylist followed her outside to continue the haircut while the child sat in his mothers arms.  haircut
This story originated with a post by one of the onlookers on Facebook, was carried to the local news stations, then on to CNN.
It was a sad situation all around.  According to news reports, the lawyers responded that the owner was concerned for the child’s safety.  They stated that she meant no harm.  They then proceeded to state that perhaps the salon would consider donating some profits for autism awareness.
The public apology  that the owner offered was ridiculous.  She basically said that she never meant her actions to result in consequences.  Subsequent to this event, half of the staff has quit, the bad press surrounding this situation continues to grow, and social media has barely started to subside.
 
Why am I writing/ranting about this?  Because this is an extreme example of what we see each and every day in business.  The owner of the salon blew it.  She clearly was annoyed by the commotion of the crying and fuss by the little boy and lost her cool. 
 
My thoughts…
 
1) At the time, she should have offered to help in any way. She should have tried to see if there were any other areas in the salon to continue the cut, ask the mom if she knew of anything that may help her son, ask if she wanted to continue with the cut despite his upset, or if they wanted to come back later.  Clearly, there was a scene, but using some compassion and empathy would have helped immensely.  Sometimes, there just are no other options and you just have to push through it and be as helpful as possible.
 
2)  Once she blew it, she should have owned up to it.
Upon reading the public apology, I’m amazed that the owner actually permitted it to be printed.  It was so robotic and “legalized” that it took away any apologetic intent.  
She could have said something along the lines of…
 
“I’m so sorry about the way I handled this situation.  It seemed to be a bigger disturbance than it actually was and I completely mishandled it.  Berating or confronting someone in an already emotionally charged situation is never helpful and I just didn’t think at the time.  I was off my game and for whatever reason wanted to squelch the situation rather help.
 
For those who take particular offense because of the child’s autism, I’m truly sorry.  That really had nothing to do with my poor judgement and handling. 
 
Although it may be far too late, I’d like to reach out to the family and offer free salon services for one year.  I’d like to personally apologize for my actions and for the embarrassment and distress that my outburst caused the mother.  That is not who I am, nor ever want to be.”
 
I’ve waited to write this post in hopes that I’d eventually be made aware of something genuine coming from the owner.  But, as of this morning, no amount of searching has turned up anything after the “apology” that was issued.
 
Please understand that people blow it.  We have outbursts. We make mistakes.  We say things or act in a way that we wish we could take back when the dust has settled.  When that happens, take ownership of it.  That genuine humanness is all people are looking for today.  Concern for others is the best way to build and repair relationships, both personally and professionally.
 
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue or any others that you are currently involved in.  Please comment below and share.
 
Helping you focus on your customers,
 
Kristina

In Customer Relationships, Complacency is a Profit Killer

We Were Good at Dating, But Terrible at the Marriage Part.  They Left Us For Someone Else.

No, this isn’t part of a marriage counseling session or a relationship reality show, but it is the reality that many of you face.

The really scary part is that many of you may not even realize that this is the situation you are in.
The above statement is what a prospective client said to me a few weeks ago.  His company lost a major client because their competitor came in and wooed them away.  With hindsight being 20/20, this gentleman told me that they had become complacent and took the customer for granted figuring that they would always be there.  They were busy attracting new and other clients.
So, for all of you that find yourself losing customers without knowing exactly why, please reread that last paragraph.
Your customers are NOT buying your product or service.  They are buying the relationship you promise them.  If you don’t hold up your end of the relationship, they’ll leave you.  Often times, the business relationship is the easiest kind of relationship to end.  Your customers don’t need to file papers (usually), they don’t need to let you know why they are leaving, or even that they are leaving at all.   They’ll just go find someone who treats them better than you do that offers the same product at a comparable price.
Just like any personal relationship, check in with your customers to see how they feel with the way things are going.  Is there anything they’d like to see more or less of?  Is there anything they think you should know?  Is there anything going on that they don’t like or would like to see changed?
Asking these questions proactively just may be the difference between your customer saying “I’m so glad that I finally found you!” rather than “We need to talk.”
Please share your thoughts below…

Nail Salon Could Use a Little Polish in Customer Service Training and Skills

I walked into a local nail salon today and realized that they didn’t know a thing about giving good customer service or providing a great customer service experience.

My intention was to purchase a gift certificate for a client of mine for her birthday.  When I walked in, there were four nail techs working on customers.  The one closest to me didn’t look up, make eye contact.  She just raised her voice and said “Hello,  pick a color and have a seat.”

So, I turned around and walked out.

It’s not a huge deal and isn’t going to alter my world, but I’m not going to pay $50 to someone who doesn’t have the courtesy to make eye contact, greet me with a friendly greeting, and ask me how they may help me.  She made an incorrect assumption about what I wanted and barked out orders to me.  So, I’ll find something else for my client.

Small businesses have the power to drive the economy and to thrive right now.  But it’s amazing to me how many just fail to understand that it takes a simple focus on the customer.  Treating people well. Engaging with customers. Smiling. Getting to know what our needs/problems/issues/goals are. Asking for feedback.  These are all the simple things that I cover in my 5 Steps to More Loyal Customers emanual.  Large companies can do the same thing, yet customers tend to gravitate toward the smaller businesses because there is more of a personal touch, a connection, that sometimes is lost in the bigger companies and organizations.

Connecting with customers is much simpler than most people and businesses realize.  It just takes a conviction from the leaders and owners that there needs to be a mindset shift on how they serve the customers.  They need to instill this to everyone works with customers, either face to face or behind the scenes.  So, basically, everyone in the company.  Because if you aren’t working face to face with a customer, you are working to support someone who does.

Easy Tips to Improve the Customer Experience

Your goal is to set your small business apart from the competition. If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m going to say it’s all about the customer service experience you deliver.  Here’s a lesson I recently gave on how to do just that.

I recently had the privilege of delivering a webinar for Zendesk, a superb CRM software company, and many of their customers.  Because the response was so favorable, I’d like to share the webinar with you.  You may watch it here…

Here are the points covered as well as Zendesk’s summary of them….

1. Asking questions is key to serving your customers
Your customers have a lot to say. Asking them questions is a great way to learn about their likes, dislikes, and pain points. By listening to your customers, you can better understand what they want and how to meet those needs.

2. Give each customer that “one customer” feel
How would you treat a customer if they were your only customer? You would probably make a major effort to ensure that those interactions are positive and genuine. Making small talk, taking time to understand them as individuals, and learning how they use your products and services will go a long way toward providing a personalized customer experience.

3. Answer requests with “I’m here to help”
Many people don’t like asking questions, out of shyness or a fear of sounding uninformed. Saying things like “I’m here to help” and “I’m glad you asked that question” will help them feel more comfortable and make it easier to solve their problems.

4. Think “best / better / next” practices
At staff meetings, take a look at the real world challenges you’ve had helping customers, and pay particular attention to what worked and what could be improved.

5. Hire “nice,” train the skills
Don’t hire customer service professionals that have the skill set you want but aren’t nice people. “Nice” is a skill that should be innate to anyone involved in customer service. You either have it, or you don’t. You should hire nice people and train them how to be customer service superstars.

6. Don’t be afraid to make the decision
Have the guts to make a decision and help your customers. Work within the guidelines you’ve been given, but work with the customer and provide them service with their best interests in mind. More often than not, doing so will be in the company’s best interests. If you make a mistake, reread #4.

7. Make a difference each and every day
Every single customer interaction matters, so you have to make the most of them. When reviewing a call, ticket, or email exchange, ask yourself, “Did I really do absolutely everything I could?” Striving to be the best you can be with every single customer interaction will go a long way toward setting yourself apart as a truly customer-centric organization.

Please leave your comments below as to which resonates the most with you and your business.

Bad Employee Morale Can Kill Customer Service

Last night as I waited for my daughter at dance class, I joined a group of other moms that were waiting.  One was lamenting about how unhappy she was with two of her coworkers.  Apparently, it had been a really rough day…

“They just stir the pot and make it such a negative environment.  There are only six of us in my department and it drives all of us crazy.  If management would just address the problem and stop hiding from conflict and confrontation, we all would function better as a team.
The main trouble maker is 6 months away from retirement so they are probably thinking that they’ll just wait her out and hopefully things will improve.  I wish they knew how miserable we all are.  I’ve even started looking for a job outside of my department.”
I don’t know this woman well, but I felt for her. We’ve all been there.  I’ve even been in her manager’s position of having difficult staff.  But the key is to address the situation before it gets worse.  As I see it, there are (at least) two issues here –
 
1)  Not Addressing the Behavior – By letting the poor behavior continue, management is condoning it.  It will soon become the accepted norm. The wording I would suggest to start to correct this would be…
” You seem to be pretty unhappy or frustrated about something. Please let me know what’s going on so that I can help.  Your attitude is sending a sense of negativity that I’m not sure you are aware of. We need to make this a positive working environment. How can I help?”
Notice that I didn’t use wording that would put someone on the spot, but these words help alleviate the expected sense of defensiveness, while letting it be known that what is going on needs to stop.  It also puts management in the position of being open and able to help if possible.
 
2)  The Rest of the Team is Devalued – If you’ve read these newsletters long enough or spent an hour on the phone with me, you know that I’m always going to say that you need to treat your internal customers as well as, if not better than, your external customers.
Should you allow poor working environments, even psychological, to continue, you are telling the rest of the team that you don’t care enough about them.  You are putting more value on your fear of confrontation than on their emotional happiness at work.  The sad part here is that you’ll not only lose your good staff, but you’ll lose customers as well. Customers will sense what’s going on.  They’ll overhear staff.  They might even get an earful from one of your staff.  Don’t risk it.
Takeaway Tip –  Pay attention to your team.  If you have some “Morale Killers” around, act sooner rather than later, before it’s too late
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