Transforming the Customer Experience

Category : improve customer service

Home/Archive by Category "improve customer service"

Stop Kidding Yourself! Are You Interested or Committed to Delivering Amazing Customer Service?

“I’d kill to have a golf swing like that!”

“I’d do ANYTHING to lift that much weight and look like that!”

We’ve all heard, and made, statements like this about something in either our personal or professional lives. But really, we are all a bunch of liars.

Yes, that sounds extreme, but let me explain… I’ll tie this in to Customer Service and the Customer Experience quickly.

That golf pro… Before he or she turned pro, they likely went to the course in the wee hours of the morning and practiced a full 90 minutes before going to their “job” only to return again after work, day in… day out. They sacrificed many moments that most of us take for granted to get them closer to their true goal… to be the absolute best they could be and turn pro.

That fabulous looking person in the gym (I’m not talking about the steroid pumpers)… They watch everything they eat. They train methodically and diligently.  They let the scoffing over their eating habits roll of their skin. They don’t judge those that eat differently, yet find themselves subject to ridicule because of their strictness to their own eating and training regimine. “Can’t you just let loose and have fun this ONE time?”

Many of us are not prepared to put in the time and effort it takes to be in the top 5% of anything… sport, physical fitness… or business success.

So, you say you deliver the best customer service and make the experience your customers have better than they can get anywhere else?  Really.

If I were to walk in your doors, or call your company, and ask the first five people I see what your company stands for and how it works with customers better than anyone else, I’d bet that I’d get five blank stares… and then some sheepish off the cuff made up answers.

So my question to you is this… Are you INTERESTED in focusing on your customers and creating a culture that is centered around them, or are you COMMITTED?

Interested companies gather a little information, talk about it from time to time, hire a consultant, might spend a little money for a workshop or training session, and believe that they are on the right track.

Committed companies do research, not only hire coaches – but DO THE WORK, talk about and focus on the customer experience incessantly, create a unified vision of the ideal customer experience, hire and train the right folks to support that ideal experience and HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE for excellent customer service delivery, they get feedback from their customers as to how they are doing, etc.

So, the golf pro and the body builder, they have a goal. They have clarity. They have a vision of success. They. Do. The. Work.

Are you willing to step up and stop talking the talk? Walk the talk. Develop a culture focused on the most important person in your company – the CUSTOMER.  Not sure where to get started? Click here…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Measuring the Results of Customer Experience Efforts

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

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

MEASURING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE EFFORTS

MEASURING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE EFFORTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get the Feedback From Your Teams Improves Customer Service

You Gotta Listen!
Continuing on with Customer Service Week, we are focusing on encouraging our internal teams to foster the customer centric attitudes and service.
 
Tip # 4 – Get Feedback from Your Teams and Staff to Find Out What They Need to Help Them Serve Customers Better and Enjoy Their Jobs More
 
You’ve all been reading my newsletters long enough, so you know how much I advocate getting feedback from your customers whenever possible.
 
The same holds true for your staff.  You need to find out what it is that they need or would like that would help them serve customers better and give them more reason to like their jobs.
Ask questions…. then LISTEN to the answers.
 
This is where you’ll discover what you team would like to take over, what would make them more efficient, what processes don’t work, are redundant, or simply make life too complicated.
 
You’ll also find ways to reward your teams.  One of my clients found that their phone contact center liked the specialty coffee he sometimes brings in over the doughnuts that are more frequently offered.  So, this week he bought them a Keurig coffee maker with their favorite coffee flavors.  
 
Like any relationship, it’s the little things that count.  Pay attention to your staff.  You tell them to pay attention to customers… you need to do the same thing with them.  Your staff is just as important.

The Best Customer Experience Begins with Customer Service Training – Part One

As a business coach for companies, both large and small, that want to deliver a customer service experience to bring in more money from their customers, I’m often asked “Where do I begin?”

It’s just like eating an elephant… One step at a time.

Successful companies follow seven systematic steps when

1.  Developing a complete training game plan – Before you start on a cross country road trip from New York to Los Angeles, you would make sure that you have a sound stable vehicle to get you there, you’d map out a route, plan how long you’d like to travel each day, approximately where you will lodge for the night along the way, etc.  The same thing applies here.  There must be a guideline mapped out detailing when the training process will start, who will be involved, what will be covered, approximately when it will be complete, etc.

2.  Onboard for successful fit and service assimilation – The way you bring new hires into your company sets the tone for their training experience and subsequent service.  You must think start to finish in this process.  Welcome them into your organization as a valued member of the team.  Show them how important they and their role is in the overall vision of the customer experience.

3. Set clear and specific service expectations – This is one of the areas that many business leaders complain about the most, yet this is the one area I feel is most neglected.  When you are training someone as to how you’d like them to treat your customers, you MUST be specifically clear.  “Be Nice” is too general  Nice means different things to different people and is never consistent.  You need to spell out how you’d like your team to engage with your customers at each and every touchpoint and exactly how they can best serve the customer.

4. Have an accountability system for service expectations – Once you’ve set and trained for your customer service expectations, you need to have an accountability system in place.  By not following through on this one step, it sends the message to your team that either your leadership skills aren’t honed enough to follow through on expectations or that the service you deliver to your customers is not really that important.

5. Assess customer service levels from the customer perspective – Feedback from customers and the rest of the team regarding service levels is invaluable.  You can work this into other feedback or survey methods to gain insight as to how your team is treating customers when leadership isn’t around.  The goal is to have customers come to rely on consistent service levels for them to build a sense of trust and relationship with your company.

6. Last impression counts just as much as the first – While you’ve heard the saying “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” you can actually make as much of an impact, if not more, by focusing on how you bid your customers farewell.  You can say “goodbye” while making sure that you thank them, invite them to come back soon, and by telling them you truly value their business.  Train your teams on how to do this well and you’ll soon be cultivating an extremely loyal customer base.

7. Implement systematic continual customer focus processes into your design – Again, the “shot in the arm” solution rarely works in any business aspect, especially in service.  You know how it goes… everyone gets all exited after a fantastic customer service or experience presentation, but then after a while, it becomes business as usual.  To make sure this doesn’t happen in your group, place the customer focus as a top priority at the beginning of every meeting, every decision, every new idea.  Do this long enough and your customers will soon learn and sense that you truly value their business.

To discover how all of these steps truly fit together to benefit your customers, I’m making my last webinar available here for your review.  This webinar received fantastic reviews from the attendees and I gave so much valuable information that I wanted to make sure it’s available to everyone.

Please comment below on which of these steps you struggle with the most and let me know how I may help.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Nail Salon Could Use a Little Polish in Customer Service Training and Skills

I walked into a local nail salon today and realized that they didn’t know a thing about giving good customer service or providing a great customer service experience.

My intention was to purchase a gift certificate for a client of mine for her birthday.  When I walked in, there were four nail techs working on customers.  The one closest to me didn’t look up, make eye contact.  She just raised her voice and said “Hello,  pick a color and have a seat.”

So, I turned around and walked out.

It’s not a huge deal and isn’t going to alter my world, but I’m not going to pay $50 to someone who doesn’t have the courtesy to make eye contact, greet me with a friendly greeting, and ask me how they may help me.  She made an incorrect assumption about what I wanted and barked out orders to me.  So, I’ll find something else for my client.

Small businesses have the power to drive the economy and to thrive right now.  But it’s amazing to me how many just fail to understand that it takes a simple focus on the customer.  Treating people well. Engaging with customers. Smiling. Getting to know what our needs/problems/issues/goals are. Asking for feedback.  These are all the simple things that I cover in my 5 Steps to More Loyal Customers emanual.  Large companies can do the same thing, yet customers tend to gravitate toward the smaller businesses because there is more of a personal touch, a connection, that sometimes is lost in the bigger companies and organizations.

Connecting with customers is much simpler than most people and businesses realize.  It just takes a conviction from the leaders and owners that there needs to be a mindset shift on how they serve the customers.  They need to instill this to everyone works with customers, either face to face or behind the scenes.  So, basically, everyone in the company.  Because if you aren’t working face to face with a customer, you are working to support someone who does.

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

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

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

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

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

1) The company was unavailable – literally.

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

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

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

2)  The company showed no sense of urgency

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

 What should you do?  Step on it!

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

3) The staff didn’t have a clue

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

 What should you do?  Do your homework!

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

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

3 Things I Learned From 25K Training About Improving Customer Service

I’m training for a 25K this May and on my short run this morning, it hit me how similar the process of training for a 25K is to improving customer service.  Three of the main points are 1) Take it slow 2) Have a plan and 3) Use the right equipment for the environment.

Take it slow – No one in their right mind registers for a race without training for it.  They’d injure themselves and set themselves back further than if they’d just not started at all.  It’s one step in front of the other.  You ease into it.  The same goes with improving the customer service you deliver to better serve your customers.  You seriously can’t just jump in both feet first at full steam ahead speed and expect wonderful outcomes.  When you know what you want, you ease into it and achieve one milestone, then the next, then the next.  Enough steps gets you to the finish line and looking ahead to the next race.

Have a plan – When training for a race, you have a training schedule.  A few short runs during the week, longer runs on the weekend that get longer and longer every week.  Throw in some cross training and some speedwork and you are on your way.  Improving your customer service levels is exactly the same thing.  You’ve got to have a plan.  It doesn’t happen successfully without one.  You need to have a goal of what the ideal service experience is for your customers.  That’s your goal.  Then, you plan it out step by step.  Start at the top with leadership.  Then move on to the teams to consider every touchpoint with the customer.  Look at how you greet the customer, how you interact with them, how you serve them, how your processes work for them… you get the picture.  Start at the beginning and work from there.  Again, one step at a time.

Use the right equipment for the environment – As you can see from the picture, it was snowing this morning.  Knowing that my grace and coordination abilities are somewhat absent, I made sure that I used my Yaktrax to help me on the snow and ice.  I used my earmuffs and mittens to keep my hands and ears warm.  Using the right equipment for customer service means that you have to get help when you need it, use training manuals, get a CRM software if it will benefit your customers and staff.  Ask your teams what they need in terms of training or delivering great service and supply them with it.  Making the investment in your team, be it time and/or money, always pays off in the end when used the right way.  Please don’t be an example of “Shelf Help’ where you’ve purchased training books, dvd, or consultants like myself and never followed through and left everything sitting on the shelf in your office.

Remember to take it slow, have a plan, and use the right equipment and you’ll make great strides in getting to the point of being know for the service levels you provide, regardless of your product or your price.

See you at the finish line!  Let me know what some of your challenges are.  I’ll be helping and cheering for you every step of the way.

Hampton Inn Personally Reaches Out to Customer Reviews to Strengthen Customer Relationships

Small Gestures Build Customer Intimacy

I noticed today on the the TripAdvisor Site that there were some reviews for the Hampton Inn in Manhattan/Times Square in New York.  In the review section there were numerous extremely favorable responses and just a few non favorable reviews.

What got my attention was not the reviews themselves, but the responses.  Luis Santiago is listed as the Front Desk Supervisor and has responded to each and every review given for as many pages that I was willing to flip through.  When I hit 15 pages containing at least 3 reviews each, I was satisfied and happily impressed.

The responses that Luis gave were not canned responses at all.  He took the time to craft each and every one.  Now, the beauty is that these responses were just a few short sentences, not lengthy at all.  That’s the point, it doesn’t take an enormous amount of effort or time to connect with customers.  It just takes a small step.

Now, for those of you who may be wondering if there any negative feedback, yes there were a few.  I couldn’t find any that were a “One Star” or “Two Star” review, but I did find some negative feedback imbedded in an overall favorable response.  Luis addressed those topics specifically with the reviewer and thanked them for the feedback.  He also told the reviewer that he would take it under consideration to see if any improvements could be made.

Bottom line… This is an example of building and strengthening the customer relationship after the interaction or transaction has been made.  Just the small effort of thanking for the review, thanking the customer for their business, encouraging them to return and addressing any incidental issues is huge in the mind of the customer.

And, it just may garner some unintended unsolicited marketing… as I’m doing here in this blog.  I have no ties whatsoever to the Hampton Inn or plans to visit New York anytime soon.  I’m hoping that this post serves two purposes… 1) to show business leaders that the little things count massively in the overall customer experience; and 2) to send a little extra business to the Hampton Inn in New York.  Please be sure to tell Luis hello!

Please comment below to share your thoughts….

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.

"/*" "/*"