Transforming the Customer Experience

Category : customer retention

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Customer Satisfactions Depends on Consistency

I’m sitting in my “virtual office” while waiting for my son who is at math summer school.  It is a small local coffee shop in my small town.  The place is cozy, trendy and hip, good customer service, and the barista is starting to recognize me and is always friendly.  Best of all, there is free wifi.

Typically, I get a “to go” cup so that I can enjoy the coffee in my car on the way home.  The other day, I met a colleague here for a short meeting and I asked for a mug.  The barista did something that was a moment of “Wow,” – she filled the mug with hot water for a minute, then poured out the hot water and handed me the mug.  “This will help keep the coffee warmer longer.” she said with a smile.  I was impressed.

So, as I walked in this morning, she smiled and greeted me warmly.  Remembering the last visit where she warmed up the mug (plus, it was a really cool mug), I asked for a mug.  She handed me the mug and rang up my charge.  My internal reaction was very odd to me.  I felt such a disappointment that my mug wasn’t warmed up. I had thought it was such a special little extra, I truly felt “let down.” Telling myself that I was being petty, I let it go and didn’t say anything.

Now as I’ve been sitting here working away for the past 20 minutes, my coffee has gotten cooler before I’ve had a chance to really enjoy it.  So, in my typical style of needing to make a point in a soft way, I decided to mention it to the barista as she was refilling the carafes of coffee.  I said that I should have had her warm the mug up like she did last time so my coffee would stay warmer longer.  She said that she tries to do that when the mugs feel cold to try to keep the coffee warmer.

So, she did have a method to her plan – when the mugs feel cold, she warms them up.  Evidently, she didn’t think that it was an issue today.  Her intentions were honorable, but it made me wonder about the concept of consistency.  The simple act of warming the mug with hot water made such an impression on me that I was very surprised how disappointed I was when it didn’t happen today.  Same coffee shop, same barista, same environment, but just one little – but notable- difference completely transformed the experience.  I thought that all mugs would be warmed and just expected it.

As a customer, I’ve now learned to ask to have her warm the mug.  But, as a customer, how should I let this truly impact my feelings about this coffee shop.  I am curious to see what will happen next week when I come back again – maybe she’ll remember me and warm it up?

In your business, what are the little extras that you do when you remember to do them?  This small experience leads me to suggest that you find a way to design those extras into the customer experience.  Find ways to make those extras part of the routine in order to avoid that temporary feeling of disconnect with your customers.

What are your thoughts?

Do Your Core Values Result in Customer Satisfaction and Service?

Core Values – many of us have heard the term, but do we really know what they are or mean?  Core Values are those values by which you and your company are driven by.  These determine who you are and what you stand for.  The Core Values don’t necessarily have to do directly with your product – but with your customers and business.

For example, Zappos is held in the highest regard for their customer service and satisfaction. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, said recently that they really don’t train for customer service.  They hire for culture fit.  The culture of Zappos is what makes them who they are.  Once they make the right hiring decisions based on their culture, the customer service, satisfaction, and retention come naturally.  The core values of Zappos are these…

1.   Deliver WOW Through Service
2.   Embrace and Drive Change
3.   Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
4.   Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5.   Pursue Growth and Learning
6.   Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
7.   Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8.   Do More With Less
9.   Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble

By adhering to these core values, customer service and satisfaction are a natural benefit.  Everyone who works at Zappos fits their customer mindset culture, lives these core values, and truly enjoys working there. Because of this, they are invested in the success in the company and vested in keeping their customers happy.  It’s a win/win situation for both.

Customer Care Increases Satisfaction and Profits

“Customers will be quick to drop services that don’t meet their standards, so providers need to go above and beyond to prove their value.”

“Proper customer care is positioned to be a game-changer for wireless providers as it builds trust and drives satisfaction.”

“By being more proactive about identifying service issues, service providers can empower their customer care representatives with the tools to improve customer experience and help grow business.”

cell phone

All of these quotes are taken from a recent article in WirelessWeek.com regarding the lengths that wireless carries are going to retain their existing customer base.

The carriers recognize that consumers are having to drop many expenses today that are not “necessities” and spending the money that they do have very wisely.

The article does a very good job of giving concrete methods to take to take the customer experience to the next level in customer satisfaction.

Regardless of your industry, wireless communication or medical services, the same principles apply :

Visualize Service Quality – understanding the impact that the company and product has at each customer “touchpoint” and identify and correct any potential issues before they occur.

Monitoring the Customer Experience – By knowing exactly what the users are experiencing, corrections can be made in real time.

Improving Internal Communications – Back to basics, when the right hand knows what the left hand is doing and both of them are keeping each other aware of current projects and potential issues, the problem resolution is much more efficient and effective.

Prioritizing Problem Resolution
–  By linking information networks with customer service networks, there can be a systematic approach to effectively determine which issues should be corrected and in what order according to the impact felt by the customer.

These steps listed in this article are just a few of the methods that companies are vying for consumer dollars.  The goal is clear -improve your customer service,  keep your existing customers happy, seek to exceed their expectations continually, and you will increase both their customer satisfaction and retention levels.  In doing this, your profits will increase and your business will sustainable throughout these turbulent times.

Your Customer Satisfaction is Dependent Upon Your Relationship with Them

Why do you currently bank where you do?  Is it because you have a relationship with a particular banker?  Why do you stay with your current financial adviser?  Most likely because you have a strong relationship with them.  What level of customer service to you expect?

What is the best way to develop relationships and increase customer satisfaction?

By spending time with those you want relationships with. Find out what is important to them. Discover what their goals, needs, and desires are. Keeping in touch with those that are important to us.

We can use this basic relationship premise in the world of our business relationships as well.

Your customers are not buying your product or service…. they are buying the relationship with you.

Let’s use the example of financial institutions and advisers. With financial issues being so much more prominent today than ever before, it is an absolute guarantee that customers want to be in an environment where they feel truly understood by those that are helping them.

Determine the goals of the goals of your customers. In the example of financial advisers, find out what their plans are.  Are they saving for retirement?  Do they want to leave a legacy?  Are they planning on putting their kids through college?  Are they risk takers or conservative investors? By accurately understanding the reason why someone is using your services, then you can provide them with exactly what they are looking for.

When your customers truly feel that you understand what their goals are, and that you are on their team, it becomes a relationship.  All sales today are actually relationship selling.  This relationship will be ongoing and deepen as time goes on.  In the end, it is a win-win situation for both.  The customer’s goals are most likely met, and your bottom line benefits.

Considering Customer Satisfaction Issues? Think Long Term and Lifetime Value

When clients are making requests of you, it serves your best business interest to think long term. 5% of your current customers are leaving because their friends and colleagues are telling them about the great service your competitors are providing. 9% of your customers are being lured away by your direct competitors discounts, coupons, or initial freebies.

On the occasions customers make a request that may cost you a small amount of money in the short term, what will it actually bring into your longtime business revenue? For example, many gyms and health clubs provide child care. Some clubs charge for this service while others do not. For those that do have to pay even $5 for the child care, this adds up quite quickly for those that use it 3 to 5 times per week. This may amount to even double the monthly dues in child care costs alone. Many members may take their dollars to a club that provides it at no cost. Granted, that competitor may charge a bit more than your club to provide that service, but it serves the customer well.

Another example is customer loyalty practices. Many health club and gym goers put their memberships on “hold” during the summer months. There are many gyms that will not suspend the membership for a three month period. They require the member to cancel the membership, then rejoin and pay the initiation fee again. This has cost members up to $400 for another initiation fee. Most members faced with this leave for a competing gym that will hold the account until reactivated. Granted, there does need to be a reasonable amount of time that the account may be reactivated before becoming inactivated, generally six months is a good time frame. The point is that for whatever reason, accounts sometimes need to be suspended at the clients request. When this option is provided, the customer feels a higher satisfaction level when they are allowed some control and flexibility in the use of services and fees.

When you lose customers for reasons such as these, it costs far more than you may realize. Not only have you lost that customer’s business in the short term, but chances are that they will not return to you. If a health club membership costs roughly $75 for a family per month, plus incidentals of $25 per month, that is $100 per month revenue lost. While that will not cause you much damage in the short term, think of it like this -annually, that is roughly $5000. If you have successfully valued and retained that customer for 20 years, that is a loss of $100,000 in revenue.

Remember that 5% of customers lost because friends and colleagues are convincing them to their preferred vendor? Chances are that your health club members are forming friendships. If one leaves, they are most likely letting their friends know of the better services that your competitors are now providing them. You could also be luring 9% of your competitors customers to your club by promoting a service that they are short sighted in not offering.

Satisfied customers value service. They are even willing to pay a bit more for services that are important to them. Show your customers that you value them and provide the services that they want. Increase your customer satisfaction and retention levels by considering the needs of your customers. They’ll thank you by referring their friends and colleagues to you. The end result is your main reason for being in business in the first place – an increase in your bottom line.

Tips to Raise Customer Satisfaction in Your Restaurant – It’s All in the Details

You’ve had a long day, you are exhausted, you are hungry, you don’t feel like cooking, so, you decide to go out to dinner. But, what factors determine where you go? In a recent poll online, many requirements were listed, but the overwhelming majority said that the smallest details raise the satisfaction levels more than anything else.

Personalization – Guests stated overwhelmingly that any personalization that was done was much appreciated. Introduction of each person they came into contact with, smiles, asking about them and their preferences made the patrons feel very comfortable and more than just another person.

Smile and smile often – Patrons stated that a simple smile made them feel better immediately upon entering the restaurant.

Menus – Clean menus that were easy to read and understand ranked highly. Patrons who had children with them appreciated it when the children’s menus were brought to the table without having to ask for them.

Kid friendly – For the restaurants rated “children acceptable” – it was appreciated when crayons, coloring sheets, or some sort of toy was provided readily and happily.

Drink refills – Paying attention to the preferences of the patrons was noticed by almost all respondents. Not having to ask for a refill, having the straw left out or in, the refill being brought in a new glass instead of just refilling the existing one, remembering to bring a slice of lime or lemon are qualities that were mentioned.

Serving of the meals – Getting the correct plate in front of the person who ordered it without mistake or asking. When being served, patrons did not like it when servers would reach across them to place the food on the table unless absolutely necessary.

Status updates – Patrons overwhelmingly agreed that they do prefer to be kept updated on the status of the meal if there is a delay. Some mentioned that if there was an unusual delay, their favorite restaurants sometimes provided an appetizer free of charge.

Checking on meal acceptability – Patrons appreciated it when they were asked if everything tasted good, was made to order, and if there was anything else that they needed. This is the time that corrections can be made to preparation method or temperature of food. Patrons liked it when they are checked on at least three times during the meal, but not more than four.

Special occasions – Patrons appreciated any special attention or gratuity dessert for a special occasion such as a birthday or if the guest mentioned a special event.

Timely and personalized checks – Not having to ask for the check and having the server write a “Thank You” and signed by the server ranked on the preferences.

One respondent related a thought that impressed him – “I went to a new restaurant for the first time last week. I was greeted as if I were in a friend’s home. They paid attention to us throughout the meal and did everything they could to please us. But the finishing touch was when the server brought us the final bill and said “It’s been a pleasure serving you tonight. I hope that you enjoyed your visit here. I hope that you come in again soon. When you do, please ask for my section so that I may cross paths with you again.” Now, that was personalized service!”

All of these tips really amount to one thing, pay attention to the details. When guests are in your restaurant, give them what they are asking for and make note of the preferences of each and every person whenever possible.

And now I would like to send you my free audio download of my recent teleseminar “Promoting Customer Service in Your Company”. It will be sent to you by email when you visit http://www.CustomerCentricTraining.com
Discover WHY it is so important to Promote Customer Service and HOW your bottom line will benefit …

Do You Tolerate Bad Service?

If you have staff in your organization that are providing poor service, you have two options – provide them the direction they need, or they need to be let go.  By allowing just one staff member to provide poor service, it will become a festering problem quickly.  It sends the message to your other staff that service is not very important, and the standards will quickly fall.

The public perception of your service delivery is only as strong as your company’s weakest link.  No matter how hard most of your team works to deliver excellent customer service, your customer will walk away when they hit that one person that appears to be indifferent or uninterested in serving your customers.

Customers want to spend their money where they feel appreciated.  They want to be acknowledged and thanked for doing business with you.  If you fail to do so, they will find what they are looking for with your competitors.

Customer satisfaction rises when everyone in a business is doing everything they can to deliver excellent service and build loyal customers.

Your customers will thank you for it.

What Gives “Gym Goers” More Customer Satisfaction?

There are more health clubs available than ever before to help people achieve their health and fitness goals. But, why do so many of them fail? They simply aren’t looking at their clubs from the perspectives of their customers. Here are five ways to key into the needs of your customers and keep them coming back for more.

Get to know your customers – Learn your customers names. Health club customers generally tend to frequent their clubs at a regular time, so have the scheduled staff know who they see come in regularly. Everyone loves to be greeted by name and with a sense of familiarity after they have been somewhere more than three times.

Get to know their goals – Everyone that uses the health club and it’s facilities is there for one reason or another. Find out what it is and direct them to the right equipment or staff to help them achieve those goals.

Give them the information they need, support, and accountability – Once their goals have been determined, get them the information and support that they need and want. Losing weight, building muscle, lowering blood pressure, increasing fitness and flexibility each have their own nuances and components. Have information, support, and accountability readily available for them.

Give your loyal customers what they want – Pay attention to the services and amenities that your loyal customers use. For the ones that are there day in and day out, ask them what they want to keep them happy. Fitness trends come and go. Be sure that when you are trying to keep up with the latest trend that it steers clear of the world of the loyals. If you decrease amenities or areas that are used on a continual basis, you will lose customers. If no one uses the racquetball courts, then decrease accordingly and use the space to try the newest fad. However, if racquetball courts are used consistently, keep them open and find other areas to try new trends.

Give them a safe, comfortable, clean environment – People generally stay in places where they feel comfortable. Give your health club customers reassurance that you are providing a clean, safe, and comfortable environment to achieve their health and fitness goals. Clean and checked equipment will be much more inviting than equipment that never sees a sanitizer or looks or sounds rusted or neglected.

More people than ever before are making fitness a major part of their daily lives. Health clubs that strive to know their customers and deliver what they want are going to earn the business and referrals from their existing customers.

What Does it Take for Customer Satisfaction? Service with a Smile!

I went to my local mall today to do some last minute shopping.  As I was passing through JC Penny to get the main part of the mall, I noticed some clothes that I liked and tried them on.

As I was walking toward the counter to purchase some items, I noticed that there was no one to be found.  I like to play a little game in stores called “How long before someone notices me and comes to help?”  I hadn’t even made it to the counter and a voice called out from behind a rack and said, “I’ll be right with you!”  Within 15 seconds a shorter woman came out with a big smile and said “Hello!  I just wanted you to know I was here.  Most people can’t see me as these racks are much taller than I am.”

She then proceeded to engage me in conversation about the items I was purchasing.   She then asked me if I had the current coupon with me.  I replied that I really didn’t know which coupon she was talking about.  This was a last minute shopping decision trip for me.  She went over to the entrance and picked up the current sale catalog and used the 20% coupon on the cover.  She told me that it was good for another few days, “so be sure to hang on to it.”

At the end of the bagging process, she said “Thanks so much for coming in today and shopping with us.  I hope you’ll come back again soon.”

This woman did just about everything perfectly.  She sought me out, let me know that she would be right there, actually showed up quickly, was friendly and engaging, helped me out by offering me a coupon to use, advised me to use it again, and thanked me for coming in, and encouraged me to return again soon.

But really, she had me at “Hello” and her smile!

This is the type of excellent customer service that increases customer satisfaction and retention.  You reallly have to make the right hiring decisions by hiring the right service attitude.  This wonderfully pleasant woman helped set the tone for the rest of my day.

Dazzle Your Restaurant Customers With Knowledge – They’ll Be Hungry For More!

For the many restaurant patrons that seek out local restaurants, the driving factor is clear – They want to taste the local charm and uniqueness that is lost in many of the chain restaurants. Individuality is what makes the local restaurant stand out from the mass-marketed chains of steak, Italian, and All-American restaurants.

Customer satisfaction and retention greatly improve when restaurant patrons get information and help from the ones who should know first hand – your trained restaurant staff.

So when that new customer comes into the local restaurant and is impressed with the decor and ambiance, what is it that will drive him away the fastest? A host or server that doesn’t know much about the restaurant itself or the food that it serves.

Share the History and Unique Factoids

Restaurant patrons that search out the local restaurants are truly interested in the history of the restaurant and the story behind it. They really want to know when the restaurant was established, why and how it came to be, and the story behind the founders. All of these help complete the picture contributing to the charm of the place.

Each person working in your restaurant, from the busboy, to the servers, to the hosts, needs to know everything about the restaurant. Patrons enjoy hearing the story from the people who are invested in the restaurant, rather than simply reading the story on the placemats or menus. Have the story printed there, but be certain that everyone in your restaurant knows the history as if it were their own.

Entice their appetites with food descriptions

The second place that knowledge is essential is in the specific menu items. There are few things more frustrating than asking a server about a particular menu item, only to be told by the server that they themselves have not tasted it. A food allergy is the ONLY reason that a server should not be required to taste the food.

The restaurants that are truly successful and develop strong relationships with their patrons are those that have the servers and the chef meet daily to review the specials, the way they are prepared, and to sample the various dishes.

Most people would not purchase a car without asking questions and getting the information important to them. In that same premise, when ordering food, it helps to get the information on the experience from one who knows first hand. How can someone accurately describe the taste of something if they have not experienced it firsthand?

By having people who really know about the food and restaurant itself, your customers will become raving loyal fans.

And now I would like to send you my free audio download of my recent teleseminar “Promoting Customer Service in Your Company”. It will be sent to you by email when you visit http://www.CustomerCentricTraining.com
Discover WHY it is so important to Promote Customer Service and HOW your bottom line will benefit …

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