Transforming the Customer Experience

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How Customer Emotions Can Build or Break Your Profitability

The emotions of your customers drive your profitability and customer loyalty. We may be hesitant to acknowledge because we all know that relationships (even business relationships) are based on emotions and communication and can get us into trouble if we are not in tune with our partner. Does the phrase “Can we talk?” sound familiar and scary?

Being in tune with your customer while working with them is just as crucial, especially if you plan to stay in business and be successful.

Emotions Drive Most Buying Decisions

Think of your current banking institution. What emotions come up for you? If you are instantly filled with frustration and irritation, odds are you are also currently looking to jump ship and find another bank. If, just thinking about them causes you to feel this way, how much worse is it when you are actually on their website or in their location? Frustration and irritation are the kiss of death for customer loyalty. Once you get past the hassle factor of switching to another bank, if you’ve found one that makes you so glad you found them, you’ll likely encourage most of your friends and associates to try your new bank as well.

Lesson: Your frustrated and irritated clients are solid detractors from your business. They’ll spread the word willingly about how difficult it is to do business with you and encourage people to try your competitors.

What about those of you that felt good about your bank when you thought of them? For those of you that felt your finances are safe and secure, that your best interests are being cared for, those of you who feel your bank truly values your business, you will likely never leave that bank willingly. Those positive feelings are the drivers of customer loyalty.

Lesson: Trust, safety, security, comfort, and happiness drive customer retention and loyalty and, ultimately, profitability.

Now, we’ve looked at four main emotions – frustration, irritation, trust, and feeling valued. These emotions are fairly simple and easy to identify in your customer’s body language and mood. Point out to your leadership team and staff that these emotions are key indicators of the way your customer feels about your organization as a whole and their likelihood of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Keep It In Check

Provide some discussion forums or training for your teams to identify indicators of these emotions and how to work with those that are frustrated and irritated. Give your staff the tools and strategies to help ease customer frustrations, better communicate with them to identify underlying issues, and to open up discussions as to how to make working with your organization better and easier for them.

Pay attention to the customers who are loyal and appear to be happy to be working with your company. Train your teams to recognize these folks and give them strategies and tips on how to engage and to find out what it is about your company that has caused them to feel the way they do. The goal is to replicate the “stimulus” as often as possible to encourage happiness and loyalty. If it’s your staff that’s wonderful,then identify the characteristics that drive this result and be sure to have those as “must haves” in all new potential candidates.

Get even more tips and strategies to immediately step up your game to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty by claiming your copy of “50 Customer Service Tips Made Simple” by clicking here https://kristinaevey.leadpages.net/50-customer-service-tips/ You’ll get instant access to what it takes to continue earning your customers business and loyalty.

 

Customer Service – It CAN Earn You Loyal Customers!

I preach continually about the importance of Customer Service and am really happy to share this personal story.

Last week I was on my annual pilgrimage to Chicago with some good friends.  Every year, I mean EVERY year, we dine at Quartino’s restaurant.  We happened to find ourselves there about 8 years and have returned every year because the service, food, and prices are so wonderful.  Our friends think we are nuts for not trying any of the other venues, but we just don’t want to risk it.

Last week, we found ourselves waiting a few minutes for our reserved table at the appointed time.  I asked the hostess twice if she had an estimate of the wait time as we had tickets to a show later that evening.  She very politely apologized for the wait and assured us we’d be seated shortly.

Just moments after my second inquiry, the restaurant manager, Tony, appeared and genuinely apologized for our wait. He assured us that the table would be ready momentarily and thanked us so much for our patience.  We told him how happy we are with the restaurant and have come back every year because of the great experience we consistently have.  Upon hearing that, he thanked us for our loyalty and returned with a complimentary bottle of wine for us to enjoy for the remaining minutes we had to wait.  He then showed us to our table.

The remainder of the meal was, as expected, wonderful.  We enjoyed our meal while catching up on each other’s lives and lots of laughter.  The manager then stopped by at the end of our meal with a cocktail treat for each of us and gave me his card and asked us to email him next time we, or any of our friends, would be dining at the restaurant so that he could be sure we were well taken care of.

Now, this is the type of service experience I train my clients to deliver to their customers.  While we hadn’t waited too long, they were very kind and apologetic about having to wait at all.  The manager went above and beyond to make us feel like we were special patrons of the restaurant and really made us feel important and well taken care of.  He even followed up at the end and made sure that we knew how to contact him to be sure we’d receive great service at our next visit.

When you can connect all of the dots like this.. welcoming at the beginning, great care during, handling any mishaps with grace, and sending us off with a smile (and a blog post), you know you’ve done a great job.  They key here is that they do it CONSISTENTLY.

Keep it up, Tony and your team at Quartino’s!  Next time any of you are in Chicago, stop by and ask for Tony.  He’ll take great care of you.  You can also learn a thing or two from them to bring into your business.

Customer Experience Mapping Puts the Pieces of Customer Satisfaction & Loyalty Together

Call it Customer Experience Mapping, Journey Mapping, Customer Touchpoints…  The thing to understand is that the companies that use these practices recognize higher levels of customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.  Why is this?  Well, I’m happy to explain.

The companies that take the time to do this understand that while we all might have a great idea in our heads on what we’d like the customer to experience when they choose to do business with us, unless you have it well planned out, it’s unlikely to happen.

I suggest that mapping be done to outline the ideal perfect customer experience that you’d love to be able to deliver to your customers.  Start at the beginning and consider the journey of the customer through your company as they do business with you.  Each time the customer interacts with a person or department, this is a “Waypoint” on your map.  Describe the ideal experience at each waypoint.  Now, I’m saying to map out what you’d DREAM of doing with/for them, not what your current capabilities are today.  For instance, if you have many customers call into your business it may look something like…

  1. Customer calls in and phone is answered within 2 rings with a genuine, warm, friendly greeting.
  2. The call is then transferred to a a billing representative who will answer without the call going into voice mail
  3. The billing representative will be able to look into the history of the records and identify core issue.
  4. The billing representative will be able to make any adjustments or corrections as necessary to resolve issue during that call, eliminating the need for a 2nd customer call.

Once this is done, then management needs to determine what is necessary to make each of these steps happen.  For instance, Step 1 requires a live person answer the phone within 2 rings.  If you have an auto attendant answering the phone, take steps to eliminate it. Hire a phone receptionist or reorganize staff responsibilities in order to have a live person answer the phone within 2 rings.  If something isn’t possible to implement right now, determine what would need to change in order to make it happen and make all future decisions in line with that goal.

The great companies like Disney, Nordstrom, and Ritz-Carlton all do this regularly.  The great experiences they are famous for don’t just “happen,” they are created.  They are mapped out every step of the way with clear direction, regardless of current capabilities.  To ensure cohesiveness across your company or small business, share these ideal customer experiences.  Knowledge is beneficial to everyone.

The question most folks ask is regarding Step 4. The first thing they tell me is that their staff aren’t able to fix a lot of the issues on the first call.  My question is – Why not train them to be able to?  How much better of an experience would it be for everyone, customer and staff included, to be able to take care of the issue on the first call?  The staff will feel more empowered to do their jobs and the customer will be delighted with less of a hassle than they anticipated.

So, Customer Experience Mapping does a lot more than creating more satisfied and loyal customers, it enhances morale and employee engagement as well.

Measuring the Results of Customer Experience Efforts

How Can I Tell if Our Efforts to Improve the Customer Experience are Working?

I'm asked this question repeatedly by business leaders.  They understand that the customer experience is more important than ever before.  They believe that they are delivering excellent service and they want some sort of mechanism on how to measure any improvements.

MEASURING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE EFFORTS

MEASURING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE EFFORTS

There are many different answers to this question. There are several different ways to survey your customers – online, by phone, email, etc. In surveys, you want to be certain to get your responses both in a quantitative method and qualitatively. The quantitative answers will give you the rating you are looking for and the qualitative answers will enable your customers to answer free form in their own words.

But the two best ways to measure your customer service and satisfaction are 1) by looking at your profit increases and 2) to actually have conversations directly with your customers.

No mater what your business model, these two methods are very basic and revealing. For example, a country club is trying to increase it’s membership. They think they have all of the amenities and options that their members want, they’ve scoped out the competition, and they’ve got the best golf pros around. The challenge is that they have seen profits and membership plateau despite best efforts to increase their numbers.

So by looking at the first measurement, their profits are stable. Now is the time to examine the second measurement – talk to the club members themselves.

By speaking directly with the members, it is their golden opportunity to find out exactly what their member want, like, and don’t like about the club. Having direct communication with members will also increase the relationship between vendor and customer and turn it into a partnership. Once the members recognize that the club truly wants to provide what they want, they will be more forthcoming and tell them exactly what it will take to keep them there.

The final step in this process is crucial – you must act on the information. While it is certainly not feasible to integrate or act on every piece of feedback, it is crucial to consider it and follow up on it. There are many different ways to consider and follow up on the information, all the while keeping the customer informed along the way.

The communication process that has strengthened the relationship between the club and the member will now pay off in profits because the members will be personally invested in the club. They will start to buy more of the services provided because what they wanted is now being offered. Membership levels will increase because the first string of customers have now become raving fans of the club and they are encouraging all of their colleagues, friends, and acquaintances to join.

It has now become a win-win situation for both the country club and the members. The club is seeing more positive feedback from their members and getting more voluntary feedback because the communication paths have already been established. The golf club also enjoying higher profits and membership levels, and the members are enjoying better service, amenities, packages, etc. because they are getting exactly what they asked for and are willing to pay for it.

Improving Customer Service – What to Do When You’re Running Out of Ideas for Better Service (3 Big Tips)

How many small businesses still remember or still operate on the phrase – If you build it, they will come?

This phrase is a sure fire customer service improvement  downfall and profit killer.

Those days are long gone.  Studies show that customer engagement is key and that customers are much more aware and conscious of how businesses treat them.

So here are three ways that businesses fall short on customer expectations and what you can do about it.

1) The company was unavailable – literally.

58% of consumers in a Right Now study from 2011 stated that they were less than satisfied because the company did not answer the phone or respond to email.

What should you do?  PICK UP THE PHONE AND ANSWER YOUR EMAIL

This is so simple and requires minimal explanation.  Be sure that someone is manning your phones and email AT ALL TIMES.  If you really want to stand out from the crowd, then set a goal for your business to answer the phone within three rings and respond to all emails within two hours.  Now, you may not have the answer within 2 hours, but by responding that you are glad they contacted you and that you are working to get an answer or solution, you’ve put their mind at ease that they haven’t “fallen through the cracks.”

2)  The company showed no sense of urgency

56% of customers in that same study said that they found that companies are slow to resolve issues.

 What should you do?  Step on it!

When a customer contacts you with a question, concern, or problem – get moving right away to fix it.  In reality, customers know that there will occasionally be issues with a product or service, but when you don’t make it a priority to fix it for them, you’ve lost your edge in their eyes.  This study suggested that more than half of the time, customers feel like the business just doesn’t care enough about them to take action right away or within the customer’s perception of a reasonable amount of time.  Would you, putting yourself in the shoes of a customer, continue to do business with a company that less than half the time acted quickly to resolve issues?  I would hope not.  Go to their competition and explain why you left business number one.  If the competition is smart, they’ll make sure that doesn’t happen to you again.

3) The staff didn’t have a clue

Imagine the frustration level of the 57% of customers that stated they felt like they knew more about the company and it’s products than the customer service agent that was working with them.

 What should you do?  Do your homework!

Train your teams on everything about your company and the products and service it has to offer.  Give them the history of the company – who founded it, why, when, and where. How has it grown and what has changed over time.  As for your services or products, dive deeper than just the facts stated in the brochure or website.  Anyone can find that.  Your customers are contacting you because they’ve shown an interest already in your product, so give them more information than just a high level overview.  Train your teams on what is the best use of the product and what it wouldn’t be suited for.  Who is the best person to benefit from the service and who wouldn’t be the target market?  Is this a standard item or can modifications be made if needed?  Focus on the benefits of the item or service, not just the features that are listed elsewhere.

I’ve got even a few more tips for you here to learn what you need to know to stay ahead of your competition through service.

Customer Service Mindset Tips for the Small Business Owner

Small Business Owners: Take Heed – Customer Service is All in the Mindset!

I work with  businesses both large and small and it is reinforced to me daily as to how much of the “Service Mentality” truly stems from the mindset each and every one of us chooses to display.  Yes, you read that correctly…we choose how well we will treat our customers. People try to blame their background, their boss, their peers, or worse yet… the customer, as the reason why they don’t give good service.  But once you own up to it, it all comes down to CHOICE.

So with this being said, the small business owners sometimes feel outnumbered, out-lawyered, out-staffed, out-everything’d by the larger companies that advertise and market in such a way that they can only dream of.

To them, I consistently say one thing…. It’s all in your mindset.  The mindset that you can create the ideal service experience stems from your beliefs and your desire that delivering a superior service experience is not only profitable for your bottom line, but that it is the right thing to do.

I believe this is an essential first step.  You must believe that it is truly possible to assemble a dream team for service.  You may have a few folks in your team right now that you regret hiring, but from this point on, we’ll work on that and ensure that you are hiring for the best service experience possible.  If you don’t believe that this is actually a probability, then you may as well throw in the towel now and continue to make excuses.

The body travels in the direction of  the mind’s most dominant thought, so be prepared to come into this with a beginner’s mind and be open and excited about what the possibilities are.

I have a past client who had so much more knowledge than she ever gave herself credit for until recently, and needed just to open her mind for what was possible.  She recently accepted a position doing everything she had been hoping she could do in her past company, but with a much more progressive one that walks the talk, that has the mindset of all things are possible, and even, necessary in the world of service. So, yes, she had to make some changes by making the huge decision on how long to continue working for a large company with good intentions but no follow through, or to go where she knew it felt better to start from scratch and stay true to her mindset of connecting with customers and becoming a solutions provider.

To all of you who are leaders or owners in your businesses, you must envision the way that you want your customers to feel about you.  You must envision the right team in place that is fulfilling the desires and needs of both the company and the customers.  You must envision how each and every day you are gaining the loyalty and trust of yet one more customer.  By doing this day in and day out, you are setting yourself up for success.  There will be some days when it seems overwhelming and frustrating, but by envisioning the success of you and your team, you are practicing the same techniques that professional athletes, even Olympians, use.  They envision the finish line.  They envision themselves getting the gold medal.  They push through the setbacks.

So to all of you small business owners, the customer service experience that draws your customers back time and time again begins with your mindset and your belief in getting the job done in the best interest of the customer.

What to do With That Complimentary Letter for Good Customer Service

So, what to do with that letter complimenting that good customer service?

Who doesn’t like to receive a compliment? You’ll be hard pressed to find a person in the world that truly doesn’t like to receive a compliment.

How many people actually take the time to send a compliment letter or email?

The answer to this question is at the other end of the spectrum. Customers are much less likely to send a complimentary letter than they are to send a complaint letter. This holds true to the fact that a customer having a negative experience will go out of their way to tell hundreds of people either in person or through social medial rather than take the time and energy to tell people about an experience in which they received good customer service.

The first thing you must do…

Immediately acknowledge the letter to the sender. When a customer of yours takes the time to compose and craft a letter to compliment your business, or someone within that business, you must reciprocate in kind.

By doing so, you are connecting, engaging, and valuing that customer. Many customers figure that there is some sort of “Business Black Hole” that handles all issues and are hopeful that the information or compliment is reaching the right hands.

In reaching out to the customer, you are letting them know that you value their business, that you want to take the time to connect on a personal level, and you are strengthening the engagement process of building a long term customer relationship.

My suggested wording for a complimentary letter is this…

Dear John/Mary,

Thank you so very much for the letter you sent complimenting ABC Business/Jane Doe’s service and/or efforts. I know that you are very busy and much appreciate the time that you took to let us know that we/she is doing a great job for you.

I will be sure to pass along your kind words as it helps us when we know we have truly made a difference to those we serve each and every day. You are the type of customer we look forward to helping every day and make our jobs enjoyable.

Kindest regards,

Joe Smith

These responses mean a lot to your customer and lets them know that the letter was received and that you value the feedback they passed along. They’ll be much more likely to reward your engagement with continued business.

The second thing to do….

Once you have thanked the customer for their kind words, you must then share the feedback with the person or department who inspired the letter in the first place. It is one thing from our teams to receive praise from leadership, but it takes it to a much deeper level when our teams receive praises from the people they are actually serving.

As your external customer felt valued when you responded to them, your internal customers (your teams) will feel that same strong sense of value when you pass the praise along and thank them for treating your customers so well.

Two of the highest indicators of job satisfaction are a sense of being valued and a sense of accomplishment in their responsibilities. Your engagement in this manner fulfills both of these needs. Teams also appreciate direct involvement with leadership, especially in a positive manner.

Please comment below on the results you’ve seen in the way you respond.

For some practical methods to increase the likelihood of receiving complimentary letters from your customers, the 5 Steps to More Loyal Customers manual will get you started immediately.

3 Tips to Handle an Unhappy Customer

The unhappy customer who is complaining

We’ve all had them.  Some yell, some cause a scene, some silently simmer.  Believe it or not, it is a very good thing to have a customer that is unhappy because you have the opportunity to regain their trust and even turn them into one of your most loyal customers ever.

Many customers tell us that they will even spend more money with us the next time they return after we’ve handled a complaint better than they ever would have expected someone to do.

So before you start to panic when that next unhappy customer storms into your office or calls you on the phone and has already told the receptionist that they are very upset, stay calm and follow these simple steps.

1)   Apologize Immediately

Even if you aren’t at fault, the apology is crucial.  Now keep in mind, it is very possible to apologize without taking the blame.  Everyone who has ever felt wronged really wants to hear a genuine apology.  When you or someone in your company has made a mistake, it goes without saying that you need to accept responsibility and apologize.

“Mrs. Smith, I’m so truly sorry that I forgot to file those papers on time.”

In the case when it is not your fault, or even the customer’s fault, and they’ve contacted you to vent or to resolve the issue, here is my suggested wording…

“Mrs. Smith, I’m so sorry that this situation is happening.”

Many times it is the customer themselves that is causing the situation to go south.  Be sure not to point this out to them.  You can re-educate them during the follow up.  For now, only apologies will be accepted by the customer.

2)  Use Empathy

Empathy is the golden piece of this equation.  Saying sorry is a great start, but it simply isn’t enough.  The customer appreciates the apology, but they really want to know that you feel their pain.  Keep in mind that the customer is usually more irritated by the need and time necessary to resolve the situation than the issue itself.

“I know it is really frustrating when the process is delayed due to paperwork and logisitics.  You wanted to get this taken care of and now you are forced to wait.  I’m sorry.”

The main thing here is to let the customer know that you feel their pain and that you would most likely feel the same way if you were in their shoes.  That’s what they need at this point.  You won’t be able to fix the problem until you understand their perspective.  This step does that.

3)  Make it Better Than Right

This is when you show your customers that you are in it to win it and keep their business. Not only do you need to fix the problem, you need to do it in a way that not only makes up for the initial problem, but also makes the customer feel good about it.  My suggestion is to offer the customer no more than three solutions, all of which you are confident will work in their best interest.  Your customer will be left with the feeling that they’ve made out better in the end than if there were no problem in the first place.

Should you find yourself challenged to come up with an acceptable fix, simply ask the customer what they would like to see happen.  You’ll be surprised to see how reasonable they actually will be.  Often times, they’ll ask for far less than you were prepared to have to offer.

Bonus Tip – Follow Up Wins Every Time

This is your time to shine.  Not only have you fixed the problem to their satisfaction, now you are going to go the extra mile to truly show how much you appreciate their business.  You are going to call them within a few days to again apologize for the situation happening and to find out how they are doing with the resolution. This is when they will thank you for the follow up, your help in resolving the issue, and really give you some honest feedback that you can apply.

Believe me when I tell you that none of your competition is doing this.  They don’t feel that it’s worth the time. Or they think it’s important, but they don’t make the time.  Service is the best and most cost effective way to set yourself apart and this one step alone has huge payoffs.

This may also be the time that you discover the resolution did not work or they are still not happy.   Go through the process again and work with them until they are.

I’d love to hear about any companies that you feel do go above and beyond in how they handle their customer complaints.

Lisa Ford Puts Some “Skin in the Game” for the Customer Experience

“Skin in the Game” is necessary to ensure that your team is working to deliver the best Customer Experience possible.

Lisa Ford, a renowned speaker and trainer in the field of Customer Service, Satisfaction, and Loyalty shared her method of keeping your team accountable for working in the best interest of your customer during a discussion we had about the ultimate Customer Experience.

“I think people have to be held accountable for it.

Are we making a part of performance appraisal?  Every three months are we reviewing some numbers?  We don’t just wait and do it annually. But I think people have to have it reinforced at a very tangible level.

I think a portion of individuals’ pay, supervisors, frontline, all the way up, has to be tied to customer satisfaction numbers.

It may be 5 percent, it might be 25 percent.  But I believe there has to be enough – they have to have enough so-called skin in the game for them to be willing to make the kind of changes needed to continue on the path of exceptional customer service, and then, therefore, satisfaction.

Again, it’s accountability, it’s talking about it; it’s team meetings, it’s getting people excited about it.

It’s getting peer-to-peer recognition going, also.  Not just putting it on the shoulders of a supervisor who cannot be everywhere at all times.

It’s letting peers be okay with saying, “Ooh, let me tell you the cool thing I saw Chris do!  Ooh, let me tell you the great thing I saw John do with a customer yesterday.”

So that we get that kind of excitement and momentum also at a team meeting.  That stuff’s priceless in the way of reinforcement later down the road.”

Lisa’s advice to have compensation directly tied to customer service is an area that many of you have voiced hesitancy toward.  But the fact is, when folks realize that their compensation is directly related to how well they work in the best interest of your customer, you’d be surprised with the results.

Please keep your questions and emails coming.  I’m always happy to help.

Helping you focus on your customers,

Kristina

Straight Talk on Customer Service from Larry Winget

Call It Customer Service, Customer Satisfaction, or Customer Loyalty.  We’ve all just made it too complicated according to Larry Winget.

A while ago, I had the opportunity and privilege to speak with some of the leaders in the field of Customer Service, Satisfaction, and Loyalty. I’d like to share a key point from my discussion with Larry Winget.

I asked Larry, known for his very direct and straight talk on various business aspects, why he felt the state of the customer experience and customer service seems to be in such disarray.  His answer is exactly what many of you need to know….

“You asked why I feel we fall short of delivering acceptable customer service.  It really comes down to that people don’t seem to understand that when they go into business that they have given over the power and their ability to be successful to their customer. That’s what I said earlier, it all goes back to profitability.

When you go into business, profitability no longer lies in your hands, it lies in the hands of customers.

I heard an old tape many, many years ago by Earl Nightengale that said all of the money you’re ever going to have is currently in the hands of someone else.

In business, that someone else is the customer. They’ve got the money.  The only thing in business you’re supposed to do is figure out how to get it from them.  The best way to get it from them is to serve them well. It’s not that complicated a process. It just comes down to figuring out what they want.

How do you do that?  Well, gee, why don’t we just ask them.  They’ll tell you.  Ask people what they want and then give it to them.

My philosophy of selling and serving is very simple.  Find out what people want and give them a whole lot of it.  Find out what they don’t’ want and don’t give them any of that. They don’t want you to be late.  They don’t want you to lie.  They don’t’ want you to hem-haw around when you say what your product does.  They want your product to do what you said it would do.

All that stuff’s really very, very simple.  But we’ve complicated it with these weird ideas.  Then you add to that we don’t bother to teach our employees, the people who actually deliver the customer service, that it’s all in the hands of the customer. All of it is in the hands of the customer.  We don’t teach employees that.

We don’t teach employees that the real boss is the customer.
And then we don’t enforce that whole feeling that the customer is in charge and that they are the boss.  And so they end up treating the customer like an inconvenience instead of like the boss.”

Larry’s words couldn’t be more true.  The Customer is the Boss of your company. The customer ultimately signs the paycheck and pays the bills for everything you do within your organization.

So, while you are focusing on customer service, customer skills training, and customer retention, please pay attention to the very true words of Larry Winget.

Please share your thoughts on Larry’s views below in the comment area. I’d love to know what you think.

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