Transforming the Customer Experience

Category : customer satisfaction

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Take Problem Resolution to the Next Level to Increase Customer Loyalty

Customer service often requires proper handling of mistakes.

We all make mistakes.  Admit it, you do.  Your company does as well.  And, although we all have those customers who are inconsolable when we makes mistakes, you’ll find that most customers are fairly understanding of the mistake when you handle it properly and make it better than right.

Take it a step further ….

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer who had the misfortune of bearing the brunt of your last mistake.  You’ve  apologized profusely, perhaps even gave a free product or service, sent a gift certificate, or done something as a token of good faith that you are deeply sorry.  (By the way, if you don’t do any of these things when you make mistakes, you may as well stop reading now…. the rest of this will seem completely foreign).

So, in your customer’s shoes, you receive a phone call or email from your company.  It goes something like this…

Hello Kristina,

I wanted to follow up with you since our last conversation about the package being sent to the wrong location.  It’s important that you understand how seriously we take these issues and want to do everything that we can to make doing business with us a pleasurable experience.

As a result of our mistake, we’ve closely examined our processes of order entry and shipping methods.  We discovered two areas where we needed additional training and focus.  We’ve put steps into place to prevent a recurrence of these issue and we hope that you’ll give us another opportunity to show you our dedication to providing a superior product and service.

Again, please accept my apologies for this happening in the first place.  I appreciate your patience in working through this issue to improve our internal processes.

Best regards,


Now, I don’t know about you, but if I received a letter or phone calls along these lines, I’d be giving this company a second chance.  It is clear to me that they didn’t take this situation lightly and have made a few changes based on my input or as a result of the mistake they made with me.

How does your company handle mistakes?  How well do you follow up with your customers to let them know you’ve made some changes as a result?  If you aren’t sure about these answers, now may be the perfect time to start thinking about it.

Use These CRM Software/Skills to Win Customer Loyalty

Customer service, customer satisfaction, loyalty programs, customer centric, CRM …. these and countless other terms are more than familiar to business just like yours, both large and small.

If you are reading this post, you are also more than likely aware of the fact that it costs up to 20 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain your current customers.  But knowing this fact and keeping this fact in the forefront of your operations are two entirely different things.

Acquiring new customers is essential for any business.  But how much attention do you pay them once you get them?  How much tracking of customer trends do you do?  Do you share customer information between departments?  Do you operate internally as separate silos of information, or do you practice the “It Takes a Village…” mantra to take care of your customers?

Customer satisfaction and customer loyalty dramatically improve when customers feel that they are truly being cared for at a personal and company level.  You can accomplish this in many different methods.  The first and foremost is simply…. be nice to your customers during your interactions.  Take this then to next level by sharing information internally that is appropriate.

Example… Joe Smith normally orders casual polo shirts from your company.  All of a sudden a new order for dress shirts is sent in by Joe Smith.  If you are like 95% of your competition, you process the order smoothly and the Joe is satisfied.

But, if you are really on the ball with paying attention to your customers as a company, someone in your order processing position noticed this and sent the info along to the customer relations manager.  That manager then had a conversation with inside sales to determine if there have been any conversations around Joe’s company  and any new areas of focus.

Either the customer relations manager or the inside sales team would then impress Joe by calling him to let him know that his order was received and, by the way, is he venturing into new markets?  Is this a one time order into a new shirt or is this a new product offering?  Would he like the link to other dress shirts or a catalog sent to him?  What are his customers asking of him that you may be able to help him provide? Is there anything that your company can do to help him with these types of orders that will make life easier for him? Is there any feedback that he can provide you that will help you improve the way you deliver products to him?  If you have one, do you log this information in your CRM program to track these answers and adjust accordingly?

Asking these types of questions, using your CRM software and/or soft skills will actively engage this customer and exponentially increase his customer loyalty.  How could it not? Hardly anyone pays attention to their customers like this and when they do, they are seriously rewarded.

By spending just a little bit of time with your existing customer base, you’ll be doing more than any of your advertising dollars could ever accomplish.  There is an article in Inc magazine that ties in some of these points with the concept I’ve just described.  Please leave a comment as to what you think of this concept and/or the article and ways that your business has succeeded or could use some focus on existing customers.

Customer Relationships – Can the Online World Eliminate the Real World?

In a recent article posted on CRM Daily, the discussion of online ease of use versus “in person” assistance comes into play.

The discussion surrounding the way that the internet had become such a huge part of our everyday lives leads us to ask – at what point can ease of use override the need for a real person to assist us?  This particular article revolved around online banking and it’s growth, posing the question as to if the local bank branches that so many of us use may eventually close.

Speaking from personal experience, I utilize the web and many online services more than most people that I know.  I buy clothes, medicine, photos, pet supplies, vitamins, movies, books, cosmetics and numerous other products online.  I also do most of my banking, bill paying, and other financial services online.  This allows me to spend more time with my family and doing the things I enjoy.

BUT, the minute I run into a problem, there is no way that I’m satisfied with resolving the issue online.  I need to talk to a real person, either on the phone or in person.  The relevance of that article in CRM Daily was especially true for me this week.  I ran into some issues trying to consolidate my access codes for my personal and business accounts online.  I went into the local branch of my bank and spent 40 minutes with the branch manager.  He not only consolidated all of my accounts into one login code, he saw that my account activity would benefit by being in a different account grouping, set me up for automatic bill pay for my business credit card, and then proceeded to inform me that I had a sizeable cash payout coming to me from that credit card if I cashed in the reward points.  I think it’s a pretty safe bet that I would not have figured out any of that out on my own online.

Bottom line, customer satisfaction is driven by the convenience factor.  Customer loyalty is driven by the relationship factor.  Relationships are nurtured by that human touch.  While it is possible to develop a personal tone online, the face to face interaction will always be needed at some point.  The trick is to find the balance and provide customers the portal they personally desire.

Besides, what online banking portal is going to offer you a lollipop?

Huddles Pay Off BIG in Football and Customer Satisfaction

Successful customer service and football.  What do they have in common?  They both rely heavily on huddles.  Think about it.  In football, the huddle is when the play and strategy is discussed.  It’s when they make sure that everyone has what they need to make the play and score the touchdown.

The exact same thing goes down in a huddle at the office. The manager, supervisor, or team leader gathers everyone for just a short time and makes sure that everyone knows what is needed to make that day go well for both the customers and the company.

The leader needs to make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them.  All team members must understand their role in the big picture and needs to speak up if they need help or assistance.

It’s during the huddle that the day is mapped out and challenges are prepared for.

I strongly advise you to have 5-7 minute huddles DAILY with your teams. This should be part of the DNA of your business, team, or office.  The huddles need to happen daily and consistently.  As a leader, you need to ensure that they be short in duration and full of relevant information.   They should cover what is being worked on, appointments for the day, any current customer issues, anything that is required or needed for a project to be completed, and requests for information and assistance.

Remember, prepare your team for success by giving them a game plan for the day.  Find out what is needed, what should happen, what to do in case the unexpected happens, offer assistance to those who may need it, keep those working on projects  accountable.  Find out about the challenges facing your team.  Be brought up to speed on customer issues and internal department issues.  With huddles, these should essentially act as a game plan for the day.

Using huddles in the workplace makes everyone a winner.

Celebrate and Share Your Customer Service Efforts – with Worms

Customer service and satisfaction consultants often advise clients to share and celebrate our successes.  It’s wonderful when someone on our team has done something far above and beyond their responsibilities to deliver excellent service for a customer.  I advise clients to do this on a regular basis during every staff meeting.

By sharing successes, it opens up the creativity of the other team members as to how to surprise and delight their customers.  Many of us stumble in our efforts to come up with a new idea, so I highly recommend repeating what someone else has done successfully.  Call it copying, but if it works in the best interest of the customer, everyone wins.

The challenge comes when we have a few team members who are not used to recognizing their strengths or something that they’ve done well.  While a herculean effort always makes for a good story, it is usually the smallest efforts and gestures made under the radar or behind the scenes that are  most appreciated by the customer.  So when we have those instances when no one can think of something that went well, I like to inject a little bit of fun.

“The Gummy Worm Award”

When someone can’t think of something that they did well for a customer, give them an award of a bag of sour gummy worms. No one will want to have that bag of gummy worms for long, so the next meeting, they will most likely have more than one example of something they did well for a customer.

This is all in good fun, but reinforces the fact that we all need to recognize that simply by doing our jobs well, we make a difference in the  minds of our customers.  It doesn’t even need to be something directly job related.  It could be that you made a phone call to your customer’s next appointment and informed them that the customer is on their way.  It could be that you made an unscheduled  proactive phone call to a customer about an issue they’ve been dealing with.  Maybe you sent your customer an article that caught your attention because it relates to their industry.

I hope you get the point here.  The above examples are small acts that make a big difference to a customer.  None of them may seem monumental, but any one of them could be the difference that makes the difference to the customer and gets them to return to your business or renew their account with you. We need to reinforce to our teams that the small things count and will keep the focus on the positives, not the negatives that arise from time to time.

By having your teams share what has worked for them, it gets them to recognize what they do well, gives examples to others to follow, and keeps the focus on the positive aspects of customer service and the difference it makes to our current customers.  When they try some of the strategies that have worked for their peers, their level of customer service improves, as does their feeling of empowerment and ownership in the company overall.

I’d love to hear your comments and strategies you’ve found useful in getting your teams to recognize their efforts.

Customer Service Week – All Done? No Way!!

So, now that you’ve received some strategies to increase your customer service and raise the satisfaction levels of your customers, now what?

Keep the Momentum Going!!!

Just because Customer Service Week is over, by no means should you stop paying attention to your customers. If anything you should strive to treat them better every day from now on!

Remember, customers are buying the relationship, not your product or service.  They feel it’s a good relationship when you treat them as if you truly value and appreciate them.

Customer service and satisfaction efforts need to be a continual process, not just a one time event.  Customers like consistency and will pay for it when you consistently treat them well.

By continuing to focus on your customer service expectations and efforts, you are sending a strong message to your teams that this is a priority for your business and that you, as an organization, are determined to stay ahead of the competition and serve your customers better than anyone else will.

A Valuable Resource to Keep Improving Everyday

To help you in your continued efforts of raising the bar in service, I’m including this link for your benefit. Five Steps to More Loyal Customers will change the way you interact with your customers the very same day you use it!  When used as a tool for team development, the results are inspiring.  You’ll get everyone talking and involved on how to make the customer experience so much better.

Five Steps to More Loyal Customers will put you in the category of Walking the Talk when it comes to delivering excellent customer service!

Increase Customer Satisfaction by Managing Expectations

Manage the Customer’s Expectations Up Front

When customers first begin to do business with you, they will have their own expectations and hopes regarding your product and service delivery. The best way to make sure you are seen as reliable and deliver on promises is to educate them from the beginning what to expect from us.

Let them know how your business works.  Tell them how long processes, program, or deliveries take.  Inform them of your billing practices before the first order is placed.  Advise them of the information or steps you need from them in order to complete the process or order.

You may have to do this a few times in a few different ways.  We, as business owners, often find that customers don’t really read all of the information we give them.  As customers, we’ve done the same thing.  So be sure to integrate a system to cover the same information verbally.  Be it the person who takes the order from your customer or the receptionist they speak with, make sure that someone is talking with the customer to let them know what will happen and what to expect.

Once customers are informed about the way you do business, they will have a clear understanding of what to expect from you.  They won’t be calling you the day after an order was placed frustrated that it hasn’t been delivered yet.  They’ll know it typically takes 4 business day to arrive.  You won’t receive angry calls from customers asking what the status of their insurance policies is because you’ve let them know that in order to get accurate quotes, you need paperwork from them.

Customers really don’t like surprises, unless it is a delightful experience.  Keep negative surprises to a minimum by making sure they know the process, time frames, and expected outcomes every step of the way.  Be sure to keep them informed should something not go according to plan.  They’ll thank you for it.

Got an Attitude About Customer Service?

Are you thinking that good customer service is a lost art these days? Many people do. I’ve found one thing that seems to be the sole driving factor as to whether or not good customer service is delivered to the satisfaction of customers – attitude. The attitude and work ethic of today’s workforce is essential. We notice it to the point that great attitudes in customer service are so infrequent that they stand out in a field of mediocrity.

Yesterday in my local newscast, there was a story about new job openings coming within a specific organization which happened to be for lower paying jobs.  Nonetheless, there were many people lined up for applications.

The director of the hiring organization recognized that these would be mainly supplemental income positions for most people and that not much work experience was necessary because he was certain that the necessary skills could be trained.  He did however state that the new hires had two important qualifications – good work ethics and the right attitude.

The Right Attitude Makes for Great Customer Service

When he said this, it reiterated the point to me about how much of customer service lies within the attitude we choose to have.  Regardless of the position listed on our business cards and titles of folks within our organizations, we are all in customer service because we are all serving the needs of the customer, either directly or indirectly.

The attitude which we choose to adopt will make the process that much easier or more challenging.  When we choose the attitude of working in the best interest of the customer at all times, it benefits everyone because the customers are happier with what we provide them.  When customers are happy and easier to work with, it makes life easier on our staff and more positive overall.  I truly believe that people can choose the attitude they have and that we become more positive ourselves when we know that we are helping customers in such a manner that they are happy that we were the ones they dealt with in that interaction.

I had an experience this exact concept that I blogged about last year. We do have the power to choose our attitudes and anyone acting directly with the customer is responsible to make the right choice of attitude.  The gentleman in charge of hiring these new front line positions has already made the conscious decision that he isn’t going to be hiring just warm bodies to fulfill the job requirements, but he’s going to be making the right hiring decision by hiring those with attitudes congruent with his desire to have happy customers because they were delivered excellent customer service.

What are your thoughts in how much attitude is a choice and reflects the level of service delivered?

Win Customers Back by Delivering Excellent Customer Service

“We’ve had customers leave us because of a lower price, then return to us because of the better service we provided.”

This is a direct quote from my interview with Todd Wilson, owner of a lawn care service. He knows that customer value the personal touch and follow up, so he is determined to be sure that everyone in his business delivers on that.

It’s all about how well you communicate with and follow up with the customer. They depend on the service and that is how his business has gained the business that his competition wasn’t willing or able to deliver. Todd’s company happily accepts those customers and takes the money they could have just as easily have spent with his competition.

Watch this brief video to get his perspective….

Studies show that 9% of your customers are being lured away by your competition through discount programs, lower prices, and promotional gimmicks. Todd found that some of his customers came back to him because of the service he delivered.

Remember, there are three ways to differentiate yourself from your competitors – product, price, and service. If the product and price are comparable, let the service you provide be what your customers are willing to go out of their way for to do business with you. It’s far cheaper to keep your existing customer’s business than it is to market to and attract new customers.

Ultimately, like Todd said… “It’s about doing what you said you were going to do.” If you don’t, your customer will find someone else who will.

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