Transforming the Customer Experience

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Episode 007 – CX Depends on Hiring Right

Hiring Right – Episode Number 007 Shownotes…

So much of this work is dependent on hiring the right people to execute the desired customer experience. If you have people that aren’t concerned about customer service and making the customer happy enough with their experience doing business with you, then you have a little additional work to do.

As you have found, since you are in the C-Suite or on the leadership team of your company, you know how important it is to have the right people in the key roles of your business. It doesn’t matter if you are a large company or very small business, if you have the wrong people in place to run your business, things will malfunction.

If you can’t rally the troops, you have the wrong troops. You can’t be making decisions that you don’t feel confident your teams will be executed well.

You need to hire the right people. Front facing, behind the scenes, everyone.

If they don’t work face to face with a customer, they are working to support someone who does.All of these dots need to be connected.

You have got to be decisive and strategic about who and how you hire. This is key.

How well do they feel welcomed into your company? Do they feel like you’ve planned to have them there? Do they feel like folks are ready to welcome them in, show the basics of the layout, introduce them to other staff? Do they feel valued as a person and for the work they have been hired to do? Do they feel engaged? Are they listened to? Do they feel they serve a purpose in a bigger picture of company success?

When you have the right people in place, knowing what their responsibilities are in the customer experience and how they individually impact the outcome, are dedicated to doing their best, they put in the time and effort, the benefits are seen by the customer the company earns their loyalty.

On a side note… if you are looking for a good book on leadership and teamwork, there is a book called Boys in the Boat and it’s about the 1936 American Olympic crew team. It’s seriously a fabulous true story about a few of the boys on the team and their struggles individually and as a team on how they actually made it to and won the 1936 Olympics in Germany. I was literally holding my breath in the last part of the book. But there are many lessons on leadership and the importance of timing of skills and knowledge that are relevant in business today.

It’s also important to remember that when we consider employee churn we need to remember that it is becoming more widely recognized that employees don’t leave their jobs, they typically leave their managers. Think about it… their next job is likely to be very similar to the job they had with you. So why did they leave? Studies suggest that it’s because they weren’t getting what they needed from their managers and leaders. So, they move on.

Hiring the right people and providing everything they need to succeed in training and value when you do this, you are completely on the right track to delivering a customer experience the right market will want to repeat over and over again with you.

For now, understand that when you focus on getting the right people in place, it will start to systematize the consistency of your customer experience. Knowing that you can count on the people you have in place to help navigate through the initial set up stages of the customer experience work will make it much more likely to succeed. I want you to feel that when you have a solid plan from which to work, you’ll have the right people in place that if it has any chance of succeeding, it was worth it. If the plan doesn’t work, you’ll have the solid confidence of knowing it was the plan, not the people, that wasn’t right.

Action steps –

Identify the characteristics and type of people that make good employees.

Look at your current employees that you would be truly heartbroken if they were to leave. Ask yourselves, what is it about them and the way they add value to your business, their positions, and the customer experience that makes them stand out?

During the hiring and interview process, you also need to be sure you hire to fit your culture and those that also hold true to your core values, understand them and embrace them.

CEX Leadership – Walk a Day in the Shoes of Your Staff

CEX Leadership Tip – Walk a day in the shoes of your frontline staff. So many leaders fight this, but the single most effective way to truly engage with staff and customers is to literally do their job with them. This is not a time to judge or evaluate their performance unless a true issue emerges. This is the time to understand what they encounter every day in their responsibilities. Doing this gives you a sound framework for many business decisions.

Think of the show Undercover Boss. Many of these leaders had no idea of some of the challenges their teams faced in performing their everyday responsibilities. Sometimes it was lack of training, antiquated equipment, software programs that don’t speak to each other, logistical issues adding time to completing tasks, etc.

Sometimes it was the workload. Some found that the workload of each member had increased to the point that no one task was ever done well. Some found that there was no possible way that every single responsibility could be performed in the allotted time of a standard workday.

And the real eye-opening moments came when the boss’s found that customers were part of the issue. Sometimes the customers were rude and inappropriate, so the boss empowered the staff by training them better on how to handle upset customers with phrases to empathize and how to maintain control of their own emotions. Sometimes they realized that customers were expecting things to happen at the frontline staff level that needed to be handled by management. A few handled this by empowering staff more and by making sure that managers were readily available to handle the request.

Bottom line… spend time with your staff. Understand what they do and how they do it. Understand the mental processes required. Doing so gives you an accurate base when making decisions that will eventually impact your team.

When staff trusts that you care and understand them and their responsibilities, they’ll trust you more as a leader. They’ll be more engaged in their responsibilities and customers will experience staff who truly believe and can deliver on the intended Customer Experience.

Make Customer Service a Habit

Daily actions of Customer Service are what makes a difference in the minds of the people we work with. Both internally and externally, we serve to fulfill a need or obligation. Now, be honest… how often is the way we work with people simply a combination of “habit activities” we’ve designed in order to get us through the workday?

As the graphic points out… many of the functions and actions we perform every day are “thoughtless” processes or habits that we’ve developed to get us from Point A to Point B. This is neither good nor bad, it just is. But I’d like to make this into an opportunity to be systematically good.

My challenge to you is this… BE INTENTIONAL!

Develop habits and processes into your daily conversations and routines with customers that show them you are focused on them, focused on serving them, focused on acting in their best interest, and focused on partnering with them.

You can make this work for you in a few different ways…

  1.  Identify a set routine that focuses on getting your mindset right in working with others. Better yet, develop a Servant Leader attitude
  2. Develop a set routine of questions that are customer focused to help you understand the challenges your customer faces on a daily basis to discover how you or your company can better help them
  3. Deliberately decide on a few actions you’d like to turn into “mindless habits” that show your desire to be intentional and focused on others. Example… If you drive through a coffee shop daily on your way to work, make Tuesday’s your “Pay It Forward” day and buy a coffee for the person behind you.  When you make copies on the copier at work, always fill the paper tray to the top when you are done. etc.

The more intentional your actions are, the more impactful they’ll be. By intentionally doing the right thing, making a positive change, putting a smile on someone’s face and becoming so routine in these that they become habits, the better it is for everyone.

I know it sounds a little “Rosy Colored Glasses,” but really, who wants to look at the world through muddy glasses?

Customer Loyalty Depends on the Word “WHY”

Many people assume that customer loyalty and customer satisfaction is based on asking one very important question – What is the likelihood of you referring others to do business with us? This is commonly known as Net Promoter Score, or NPS.  On a scale of 1- 10, 10 being the highest likelihood, you delight in the folks that score a 9 or 10, pay more attention to the 6, 7, and 8 scorers, and count on the fact that anyone scoring 5 or less is already looking elsewhere for your product or service.

But only asking IF customers will refer to you misses, in my opinion, the truly critical component.

Now, asking customers IF they will refer to you is very important. But, I’d really like to take it a step further and ask customers WHY they would refer to you. This is how you find out what it is in your organization that you do really well that makes an impact on folks -OR – that nothing in your company really stands out from the rest of the pack. 

Consider this… if you were to ask a current customer why they would refer others to do business with you, or would continue to do business with you themselves, and they responded back with “Because the folks here really seem to go out of their way to help me. I like the fact that everyone is really friendly and knows what they are talking about.” 

If you had that response, you would know that your customer service and the customer experience is something that your company does really well and you should capitalize on that. Continue to make it a focus. Recognize and reward those that truly exemplify the customer service skills and deliver amazing customer experiences you want to be known for.

The significance in asking people WHY they would recommend your company to others is understanding what is MEMORABLE about your company and the way you work with customers.  It goes without saying, you want to be creating positive experiences that make customers feel good about their decision to do business iwth you.

When customers need to take a while or can’t really come up with a specific reason WHY they would refer their friends to you, you need to take a step back and face the harsh truth that your organization is pretty bland. You aren’t making enough of a positive impact in any one area that has impressed them enough to make them want to come back or resist the draw of your competitors.

Fortunately, it’s a simple fix. Create positive experiences throughout your company that will draw your customers in, engage them, become their ally,  and ultimately build and nurture long term business relationships. All it takes is focusing on the customer – their needs, their struggles, how you can help them, how they want to receive your help, and communication. In future posts, I’ll explain exactly how to do just that.

What are your thoughts on taking it a step further and asking WHY people would refer to you? Take a moment and comment below.

Good Business Is About Showing Customers the LOVE Through Good Customer Service

The secret sauce to getting more customers and making more money? Show Your Customers The LOVE!

It doesn’t get any simpler than that.  Think about the way we build personal relationships… we see someone we are attracted to, we do things to get them to notice us, we try to find out more about them, we do things to try to impress them, we pay attention to them, we notice what makes the happy and/or sad, we do our best to make them feel good or happy. If we really like them, we do whatever it takes to make them want to be around us more. It becomes mutually beneficial. Both people discover things about each other that make them enjoy each other’s company and continue to see each other… and quite possibly marry each other for life.

Now, that mini-therapy session was my gift to you… but there is a lesson in it.  The SAME EXACT principles come into play in business relationships as well.  You know your target market or ideal customer, you market to them, you try to find out what they need/want, you impress them with introductions or sales pitches or networking, you pay attention to what they say to tailor your solution around them, you notice what they want, don’t want, you do whatever you can to keep them coming back to you first for your product or service. The benefits to both are that you are making money from them and you are providing them with a solution for their needs.

I’m the first to agree that all relationships require some work, and yes, are sometimes stressful. And yes, sometimes they don’t work out, but it always requires some effort. As the saying goes, all good things in life require effort. In business, because customer needs and demographics are constantly changing, we really need to be in touch with our customers. What’s important to them? What do they need? What is it about our product or service that works for them? What isn’t working for them? What would they like to see changed or improved? As in all relationships, communication is key.

The extra bit here is that in successful relationships, both people need to feel valued and special. Yes, I was a Psychology major in college and it continues to amaze me to the degree that companies neglect this aspect in business.

If you’ve ever been on one of my webinars or in my workshops, you’ll know I ALWAYS start out with the statistic that the number 1 reason people stop doing business with a company is because they didn’t feel valued or special. People/customers want and need to feel that their business is valued by the vendor. To do so, we need to show our customers the love.

Here are a few suggestions on how to do just that…

  • Make sure that you learn and USE your customer’s names at least once during your conversations. Even if it’s when you say goodbye… it makes an impact and sends the feeling of a relationship. Example: “It was nice catching up with you today, Kristina. I’m looking forward to seeing you again soon.”  “Thanks for calling with your question, Kristina. I’m always happy to help.”
  • Take an objective look in the mirror and ask yourself WHY people should like to do business or work with you. If you can’t think of many, you may want to think of what you need to focus on to make working with you desirable. Remember the saying… If you want friends, BE a friend. This same concept holds true in business as well. Want more clients/customers? BE friendly and NICE. The #1 reason people stop doing business with companies is because they are treated rudely and indifferently.
  • Go a little out of your way to show your customers/clients they are important to you and you value them. Ask them questions that show you care and are interested in what they are saying or about their industry/business.
  • “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” – Jimmy Johnson
  • Let them know in your conversation or email that you truly enjoy working with them and value their business. Most companies don’t do this and people notice on the rare occasion that it happens. This is your chance to stand out.

Do this regularly, not just on important dates like Valentine’s Day because you “should.” When you work on making good customer service a habit and your customers can come to count on it, you’ve struck gold in the relationship game. The proof is in your bottom line… and by the glowing way your customers will speak about you and your company.

Spreading Holiday Cheer with an AMAZING Customer Experience

This just made my heart warm!  West Jet in Canada did what most of us would dream to do for our customers… took an ordinary situation and made it extraordinary!

I know, I get it… your business can’t afford to go to the lengths that West Jet did, but you can take the same premise and deliver the same feeling.  Ask your customers (or a percentage of them) what their favorite charity is and help organize an evening of volunteering for them.  Or, ask a select few what they’d like for Christmas and do exactly what West Jet did.  Or, ask a few of them what their favorite chocolate or coffee indulgence is and make a special delivery for them or have it on hand at your next meeting.

Spreading cheer is what this season is all about.  For our customers we should have this mindset all of the time, but what a special opportunity to really focus on this.  Do something special, whether large or small, just do something special and unexpected to put a smile on your customers face!

Click on the image below that is linked to the video and enjoy! It will be the best 5 minutes of your day…  I promise.

 

Customer Service Question -Does Your Business Have a Pulse or a Wire?

Where’s the customer service these days?

Improving customer service and the customer experience is more important now more than ever. And the best part is – it’s SIMPLE.  Keep in mind, simple doesn’t always mean easy, but it can be started simply by focusing on the fact that you are people delivering products and services to other people.

One of the biggest complaints that I hear about companies today is that they are so “processy” and “systematized” that customers wonder if humans work there or is the place being run by robots?

Yes, we need to have processes and systems to run our businesses, but the people running the business need to be just that – PEOPLE.

Customers are looking for one main thing in their transactions that can set you apart from your competition, or anyone else they’ve recently done business with – a RELATIONSHIP.  When people buy from you, they aren’t buying your product or service, they are buying the promise that you will answer their questions, help them find the best product or service you offer to meet their needs, to hold their hand throughout the process, and be there to help if they run into trouble.

Yes, people consider product and price, but with both of those being comparable, the decision always comes down to emotion.  People make their buying decisions based on emotion, then back it up with logic.  If they feel like they know, trust, and like you, then they are likely to buy from you.

Customer service is about delivering a quality product or service, but then providing the emotional support of service.  This means that you need to engage with customers, get to know them, ask what they are trying to accomplish, what are their struggles in this accomplishment, etc.  When you truly engage from a genuine place of customer service and it is your goal to do everything you can to delight that customer, you’ll win a customer for life.

Businesses that don’t focus on the customer relationship are those that are filled with ominous forms, stores with lackluster salespeople, customer service reps that barely look you in the eye, and seem completely disinterested in being there until quitting time.

Energize your staff, especially now during holiday shopping season, and remind them that without the customers, they’d have no place to earn paycheck.  These customers need to be treated like gold.  They want to see smiling, happy faces that are ready, willing, and able to help them.

If you settle for anything less, you may as well hire a robot to serve your customers.

 

SHARE Your Ideal Customer Centric Vision with Your Teams

Continuing on with Customer Service Week, we are focusing on encouraging our internal teams to foster the customer centric attitudes and service.

 

 
Tip # 2 –  Share Your Vision with EVERYONE in your company.
 
It’s not a secret.  It needs to be shouted from the rooftops, okay training rooms and reception area, of your company.  You need to define your ideal customer experience and what it looks like from the customer perspective.  When you define it, then you need to share it with your teams so that everyone knows it, understands it, and embodies it.
It doesn’t matter if you are a “Mom and Pop” shop or a larger company, you must share your vision of exactly what your ideal Customer Experience looks like at all levels.  Your entry level positions should have the same vision as the CEO or owner of the company.
 
Ideally, you can share your vision with everyone during training on the very first day they begin working with you.  They’ll know immediately why your company is different and what their role is in making customers feel that difference.
That being said, sharing that vision must also be a continual process.  We all know that information shared once tends to be forgotten.  By keeping the vision of the ideal customer experience clear and present throughout the company, it will quickly become ingrained into your culture.
 
Leadership must interact regularly with teams, lead by example, discuss ideas and suggestions, and continually examine how the current state of the customer experience is moving toward the vision of the ideal.
It’s no accident that Disney, Ritz-Cartlon, Nordstrom, and Apple are known for exemplary customer experiences.  They have clearly defined that customer experience and how everyone plays into it.

Service is Tipping Point in Supermarket Experience

Sometimes even good customer service isn’t enough – especially when you have a great service experience to compare it to.

Last month I decided to channel my “Martha Stewart-ness” and make lasagne for my family.  I went to the Family Fare supermarket in my area and bought all of the necessary ingredients.  As usual, it was a pleasant experience with the typical friendly staff, clean store, and plenty of selection with reasonable prices.

When I got home and began to assemble the lasagne and opened up the package of shredded mozarella cheese, I noticed a sour smell although the package was well within the expiration date.  Since I was too far into the process to back out, I had to go back to the store.  The service clerk was a dream to work with.

She immediately apologized for the situation and for me having to drive all the way back just for that.  She refunded my money and had me go get another package of cheese and had me open it to make sure that it was good.  All I expected was to exchange the package, but she went above the necessary to be sure that I felt good about the situation.

Now, here is where the comparison comes in.  Last week my daughter asked for a special treat of cookies and cream ice cream.  I bought some at the Ric’s Food Center that is literally one mile from my house, closer than Family Fare.  When we opened the container, it looked like vanilla ice cream with no cookie chunks.  We dug halfway through the container and we could see a few specks of cookie, but not enough to even assemble into one complete cookie.

I took the container back the next day and the staff was genuinely empathetic.  They apologized and asked me to grab another container, but since I selected a different brand of the same flavor, I’d have to pay the price difference.  The difference was $1.27.

I paid the difference which was completely reasonable, but my nose was a little out of joint.  I couldn’t figure out why until I remembered the cheese incident at Family Fare.  Since Family Fare had gone above and beyond by refunding me the price and giving me another package, anything less than that fell short in my eyes.  Had I not had the cheese incident, then I most likely wouldn’t have batted an eye paying the price difference for the ice cream.

The point is that we always need to be thinking ahead and think “better than okay.”  The response at Ric’s was good.  They were nice and friendly about it.  The only thing they lacked was putting themselves in my shoes and wondering what they could have done to make it better than right.

Okay, here’s the pun I’ve been itching to use….  Just some “food” for thought!

 

No Matter What Your Job Title Is – You Are a Customer Experience Officer

Disregard the title on your business card. That’s right, whatever title you currently have, disregard it.  It doesn’t matter if you are the business owner or the entry level summer position.  Your title on your card is irrelevant except for the fact that it details some of your functional responsibilities.  Your true purpose within your business is to serve the customers who pay money for your product or service.  If you don’t serve the customer face to face, you are still working to support those who do.

No matter what your titled position is designated as – you are in customer service.

Everyone in your organization is serving the customer. Even those who work behind the scenes and never come face to face with the customer bringing in the dollars are working to support those who do. The person who answers the phone, the person who distributes mail, the person making purchasing decisions, the person managing projects, the person providing janitorial services – all of these people are performing functions that ultimately impact the paying customer in some form or fashion. The trick is to make sure that all of these individuals recognize that they are not working independently, but as a team to benefit the customer.

The main reason customers leave? You and your treatment of them.

Customers are leaving your business mainly because of how you treat them. The number one reason cited 70% of the time for leaving a place of business is based solely on the experience that you provided. Consumers today are delighted when they are treated as valued partners in the business and are not processed through the system. When businesses practice the basic concept of courtesy and good manners, customers notice it and come back for more. Customers are hungry for businesses that welcome them into their place of business, that greet them warmly, make eye contact, introduce themselves, offer assistance when needed. They enjoy the experience so much more when they are thanked for their business at the end of the transaction and are encouraged and invited to come back again.

Too often, customers are treated as a nuisance or necessary evil of running the business. They are seen as time wasters. While we all have had the occasional bad day and don’t want to interact with another customer, we need to recognize that those very customers are the ones sustaining our business.

If you don’t serve your customers well, someone else will.

The smart companies are those that are focusing on their customers and looking for ways to serve them well. The customer is the sole determining factor in the success of your business. Customers are recognizing this fact and are looking for those businesses that deliver excellent customer service. They want to do business with those that effectively manage the customer experience.

It’s all about Customer Experience Management.

Delivering excellent customer service involves all aspects of the customer experience. It starts from the initial desire of your product or service on the part of the customer and extends through every customer contact point, to the point of follow up after the transaction. When this process is well managed with the customer benefit as the focal point, the entire company has then become customer centric and started to build the relationship that customers are craving from those they do business with.

By making sure that it is the customer and their needs that you are serving, you are working in the best interest of both the customer and your business.

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