Transforming the Customer Experience

Category : customer retention

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Set the Expectation for Quality Customer Service

Dear Manager,

In order for us to better understand how to improve the customer service that we are delivering, we do need you to tell us and show us exactly what you would like us to do.

How do you want us to act?  Is there a specific way that we should greet our customers?  What are the key phrases that you feel are important to developing the kind of customer relationship you desire?

Tell us what is expected of us. We have no way of knowing what it is you want us to do or how to act if you don’t tell us what you expect.  We all think of ourselves as pretty nice people and think that overall we deliver good service.

However, if we are going to be evaluated on the level of customer service that we are delivering, we are really taking a shot in the dark unless you’ve clearly shown and told us what the standards are.  We will follow the example of how you treat us.  When you treat us well, we know that the customers should be treated equally as well.  If you treat us poorly, we will know that you are focusing mainly on the product or service we provide, not developing a relationship geared toward customer loyalty.

Really, without specific customer service standards clearly explained to us, it will be purely luck if we are able to have customers like us.  The customer may not consistently receive the same level of service from one employee to the next if we aren’t all given the same expectations.

Best regards,

Your staff

Give the People What They Want!

How many products are there out in the world for us to use and consume? Trillions, if not more. How many companies actually ask you what you think of their products? Just a fraction of those trillions. How many companies actually consider and act on the feedback they receive? The number decreases dramatically.

The point is, Dominos has been airing their dirty laundry for the whole world to see in their latest ad campaign to reiterate the fact that they asked, we responded, they considered and acted on that information. They used “The Pizza Turnaround” campaign to show the world that they asked for customer feedback and received feedback that was sometimes hard to listen to. But, they took that information to make a better product.

Like they said in the commercial, many companies don’t like to admit that the are anything less than perfect and hide their faults and imperfections. Dominos clearly points out that they get slammed on their crust and sauce. They then show us that they reformulated their recipes.

We also hear these quotes – “These comments energize us to make it better.” “We want people to love our pizza.” These are the quotes of people within a company that know that they have to do what it takes to succeed.

Dominos understands that unless people like their pizza, no one will buy it and their market share and profits will plummet.

How can you and your organization practice these same principles? If you ask your customers what they think of your products and services, the feedback that you receive will be invaluable. That feedback will tell you exactly what you need to do in order to improve your products and services and to keep your customers coming back for more. Perhaps its the customer service that you deliver that needs improvement. Maybe your products and services are no longer state of the art or need to be fine tuned to keep up with the needs of your customers. If you receive customer feedback and input, be smart and use the information to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Please comment below on if you would publicly admit that your customers weren’t thrilled with your product.

The MOST Important Customer Service Skill – SMILE

It’s interesting that I get a standard response when I ask people what they appreciate the most about doing business in person.  The response usually is “They smile at me right away.”

A smile is a universally understood gesture that knows no limitations.  It is understood in all languages and cultures.  There is no room for misunderstanding a genuine smile, no matter what your age, race, gender, or cultural background.

Yet how often is the smile missing from our day to day interactions, both business and personal?  Much too often. That’s the part that I find interesting……….. How can something so EASY to deliver, be missing more often that not when we are interacting with the people who are responsible for the sustainability of our business?

Customer satisfaction dramatically increases when they receive genuine smiles.  Customers often indicate that they feel valued when they receive a smile.  This is the first step in connecting with your customers. When you feel that you are just being processed, there is no connection, therefore no loyalty on the part of the customer.

Have you ever been in this situation -“Welcome to _______. How can I help you?” Yet, the person speaking isn’t even looking at you or smiling?  The words are there, yet there clearly is no intent to back up the words with sincere appreciation for your business.

The most important, yet basic, customer service skill to train your staff is to SMILE at your customers.  From that point on, there are many other skills, but they are so easily taught when the right attitude is there.  The smile means the most to the customer at the beginning of each and every interaction.  The customer loyalty, retention, and profits all fall in line with the rest of the interaction once the tone is set and continued with the genuine smile.

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 You’ll get instant access to what it takes to continue earning your customers business and loyalty.

Customer Service and Chocolate – The Ideal Combination

Picture yourself taking over a franchise that had developed a reputation for poor service. Can you imagine how disheartening it would be to have old customers tell you how the previous owner had driven customers away with their poor customer service?

That’s exactly what one entrepreneur found when he purchased a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory franchise in the Galleria Mall in Glendale, California. Brian Pickett knew that he was going to have to turn around the service that his store was delivering in order to win back the business of lost customers and to develop customer loyalty.

Customers would openly tell him that they could go to the well known and respected chocolatiers of Godiva and See’s Candy to get their chocolate. Pickett seems to have recognized the truth that customers can find your product or service from your competitors. But the best way to win their business and loyalty is through the service that you provide. As stated in previous posts – customers aren’t buying your product, they are buying the relationship you promise them. If you treat your customers poorly, they won’t want any relationship with you at all. They’ll go to one of your competitors who realizes that customer service is what keeps customers coming back.

Brian started out by training customer service skills and making improvements in the store itself based on the feedback he was getting from customers.  He also spent time marketing to patrons in the mall, even other business owners.  He says it took him about six months to turn things around and win back the customers trust.

As it turns out, all of Pickett’s efforts paid off – literally. His revenue increased 25% in 2008 and his current numbers are 5% over last year, despite the economy and less than ideal location. By improving customer service, the customer satisfaction levels increased, thus customer loyalty increased as well.  This ultimately resulted in increased business and profits.  It’s a win-win situation all around.

“It’s all about customer service — treat people how you want to be treated,” Pickett said. “Even if they don’t buy anything, we appreciate you coming by.”

Read the entire article in the Glendale News Press here to learn more about how service, combined with good business and common sense, can turn just about any business around.

Increase Customer Loyalty Through Social Media

Just a quick note on a blog post I ran across today…..

A gentleman wrote a blog post about loyalty marketing.  He had an anecdote regarding a car rental tweet that earned the loyalty of a new customer.

“Chris Brogan, one of the social media mavens that I thoroughly respect and actually like too, told a story on Callie Lewis’s Geekbrief TV the other day about how a car service that that was supposed to pick him up to get him to Microsoft headquarters didn’t show. He tweeted his anger/anguish and a CEO of a national car service sent him a tweet with “here’s my cell.” Call it whenever you need a car and I’ll take care of it for you.” Car came, Brogan happy, loyal customer. As Chris rightfully said, “Yes, you may say its opportunistic, but he listened (to the tweet) and he solved my problem and now I’m loyal to him.”

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!”

Paul Greenberg wrote the post to talk about the emotional needs of the customer. By using social media in the above manner, we can connect to prospective customers in their moment of pain, fix the issue, and win their loyalty.  These customers will most likely be far more loyal than those who never had issues in the first place.

Social media provides a new connectivity to customers that we have not previously had.  Now, we can delight our customers in real time AND the benefit is that others will see us resolve the issues in the process.  As a result, your customer service, satisfaction, and loyalty levels will certainly increase.

Passing Judgment On Your Customers?

I just came across this article in the New York Times and literally could not believe it. In the article, Complaint Box – Hard Sell the author tells the story of the personal judgment that was made about her desire NOT to open a separate bank account in her name only upon her marriage.  The first bank agent presented the option to her as a financial option.  When the author returned to have her husband added to the account, the second agent imposed her personal beliefs on her and related her own daughter’s story.  While well intended, from a customer service standpoint this was inappropriate enough, as the customer had already stated her wishes.

It gets better – the bank agent sat back and asked the customer “What would your mother think?”  I couldn’t believe that this had actually been said out loud!  As professionals in any business, we are not in the position to pass judgment or impose our values or beliefs on them.  We can present available options and discuss any questions they may have, but it absolutely must stop there.

I commented on that article and suggested that the author bring the situation to the branch manager.  If that response was anything short of truly apologetic, then I would seriously consider closing those accounts and finding another bank.

Welcome Customers into Your Home

I was having a morning meeting to review upcoming products at my favorite local coffee house, Epic Coffee in Rockford, MI. I had the opportunity to meet the owner, Sarah, and complimented her on the success of the shop and the great feeling I always get when I am there. She thanked me for the compliment and said the magic words I love to hear –

“I really enjoy getting to know my customers and try to treat them as if they were coming into my home.”

Now, if you’ve learned anything from reading my previous posts, this is the perfect approach to making your customers feel welcome.  It says a lot about the culture that Sarah has instilled in her store.  She wants to make people feel comfortable there so that they’ll want to return.  She has customer service as the most important thing people notice.  Sarah knows that if she treats people well and does the little extras, like warming coffee mugs, they’ll appreciate it and become loyal customers.

To take this into the corporate world, this holds true as well.  Take a moment to look at how your office presents itself.  How are the phones being answered?  How does your office look?  What is the appearance of your office staff?  All of these things feed into your customer satisfaction levels.  If you want to increase your customer satisfaction and retention, make your customers happy by making them feel welcome as if they were being welcomed into your home.

Your customers will thank you for it.

The Farewell is Just as Important as the Hello

I was just interviewed for an article for National Oil & Lube News about the importance of the proper farewell to the customer at the end of a business transaction.  The farewell is one of the many components of a successful customer/business relationship.  Customer service is building relationships to make our customers feel special and recognizing that we depend on them in order for our business to thrive.

It’s important for businesses to remember that the farewell is just as important as the greeting.  The farewell gives the lasting impression of a business and can be the determining factor for a positive feeling when that customer thinks of you.  The farewell is one of the easiest and impactful steps to customer satisfaction.

When someone gives me a give or does something for me, I ALWAYS say “Thank You.”  When someone gives us their business, it’s important to thank them.  Like it or not, we are not the only game in town and need to thank our customers for spending their money with us and not our competitors.

We also need to tell our customers that we are happy that we have them as customers.  This is a nuance that means a lot to customers when they hear that.

An example of a proper farewell would be… “Thank you so much for coming to us.  We are so happy to have you as a customer.  Have a great day and we look forward to serving you next time.”

Customer satisfaction and retention improves when we tell our customers that their business is important to us.  Customers like feeling valued and appreciated, and if we do it well, they will return to us and bring their friends with them.  If we don’t properly send our customers off, then they will find one of our competitors who will.

Are Your Customers in the “Waiting Room?”

The other day I had an appointment for my yearly physical.  I have been seeing this physician for many years and really appreciate him, his nurse, and the office staff.  That being said, I fell victim to one of the things that patients state as their highest frustration in dealing with physician offices…. Waiting time in the waiting room.

Now, for 15 years I was the business manager for many internal medicine offices in the West Michigan area. I know exactly what the offices are working with in their quest to see as many patients as possible in a finite amount of time.  There are many variables working both for and against them.  Coming from that world, I tend to be a bit more forgiving than most on wait time…….up to a point, that is.

I waited for over an hour in the waiting room with no contact from the front desk as to how long wait time would be.  I checked in, filled out the paperwork, and that was it.  I did cringe when other patients checked in and announced that their appointment was with my physician as well.

Once I got in to see my doctor, I was treated with respect and they apologized for the delay.  There had been a procedure he was performing that had some unexpected complications, thus causing the delay.  I understand that these things happened, and, as I said, I love my doctor.

The point to all of this is that I had two other errands that were time sensitive that could have easily been accomplished during the time that I was waiting in the waiting room.  Now, I felt pressure to get these done before the bank and the post office closed for the day.

In retrospect, it would have been extremely helpful had the check-in clerk let me know that they were running behind when I arrived.  That way, I would have been given the choice to wait it out, quickly run my errands, or reschedule my appointment.

The trick to that is to design service into the daily operations.  In medical offices, the clinical staff needs to effectively communicate time delays once they reach a predetermined threshold, example, 15 minutes behind schedule.

While I’m using medical offices as the example, this transcends into any business arena.  Some supermarkets do this in their operations.  When there are more than three people in line, the manager makes sure another registered is opened immediately.  A bank that I was at recently understands this as well. The manager addressed each of us in line to determine if there were any of us that required his services in the transaction.

The bottom line is, when schedules change or delays occur, be sure to let your customers know immediately.  They will be much more understanding of the situation when you give them the power to choose how to handle it, or at the very least, let them understand when the product or service will occur.  Consumers know that no organization is perfect.  When they are included “in the loop” of information, it makes them feel part of a team and their customer satisfaction levels remain higher than if you leave them out in the “waiting room.”

Customer Satisfaction is Your Fault or Your Glory

I was recently speaking with someone about the people in their organization and how to increase the drive to deliver excellent service.

The discussion revolved around two main issues that are relevant in ANY organization –

1) Customer Service and Satisfaction is a trickle down effect starting with the CEO and management that is a leadership by example phenomenon.  It’s is crucial that leadership set the standards and the expectations as to how customers are going to be treated and what the minimum expectations are in any customer interaction.  As Lisa Ford said in a recent conversation I had with her – “Without service standards, everything else is left to chance.”

By clearly laying out the expectations as to what the customers can expect, then everyone is aware of what their role is to make that happen.

2) Hiring right is going to make or break your service standards. Once you’ve hired the people who have the desired mindset on how to treat the customers, the rest is simple.  If you have people in your organization that groan when the subject of treating customers right comes up, you have some people that are toxic to your customers.  The customer needs the top priority of everyone within your organization.  Without your customers, you won’t even be in business.  This is a philosophy that wholeheartedly embraces.

These two points really deserve so much more attention than this short post, but we’ll go into both of these soon in some of the upcoming videos under production.

In the meantime, treat your customers well and they’ll reward you by keeping their money and loyalty with you.

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