Transforming the Customer Experience

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Episode 24 – Lack of Momentum Stalls Customer Experience Focus and Results

Shownotes

Lack of Momentum. We all know that not moving forward stalls results and focus.

So why do we let it happen? Because life/work happens… and things get bumped. If this is you and your organization, you are most certainly NOT alone.

The thing I find is companies simply let too much time pass between events, milestones, and follow up. Things get lost through the passage of time and their impact becomes less important or relevant.

The plan to prevent stalling

  1. Have a plan. Know WHY you are focusing on CX. Know what results you are working towards and expect to see. Be specific.
  2. Know the components that build your plan and what or who needs to be involved.
  3. Assign a person or team to oversee the plan or specific components. This will vary depending on the size of your organization and number of wheels turning.
  4. Have deadlines or specific dates for progress checks.
  5. Check in with each group or project to offer assistance, resources, guidance, direction, etc. to be sure everything is on track and moving forward.

Key – Know when to stop, examine, and decide to keep moving according to plan or to make course corrections.

It’s okay to make course corrections. It’s okay to jump ship if something just isn’t working or is creating adverse effects. But FIND ANOTHER SHIP TO JUMP ONTO.

I promise you will get beneficial results. Your customers will feel the value and attention you are placing on the experiences they have when working with you. They’ll reward you with their loyalty, their feedback, and their referrals.

Episode 020 – Get Customer Feedback & Insights with Focus Groups

Shownotes…

  • Listening to customers is the goal
  • Data drives a lot of CX work
  • Conversations give you the reasons BEHIND the data
  • Focus groups are a great way to have conversations
  • General fishing, proposed changes, specific topic focus
  • Feed off the energy and questions from the group
  • Uncover questions, priorities, issues, not on your radar
  • Participants tend to springboard off each other
  • Be strategic about focus groups
  • Suggested Methodology
    1. Be Clear on Purpose Use of Outcomes
    2. Determine appropriate participants – Invite them about 3-4 weeks prior to the event, logistics should be shared on the invite. I like to limit the group to 12-15. More than that and people will hide behind the numbers, somewhat like the Bystander Effect. They figure others will speak for them OR they may feel intimidated.
    3. Establish facilitator
    4. Craft questions to draw out information based on purpose – OPEN-ENDED
      1. “Tell me about…”
      2. “Share what drives these feelings…”
    5. Identify best location for the event – location, size, atmosphere
    6. Conduct the Focus Group – Again share the purpose, ask the questions and facilitate discussion, thank them for attending and sharing their input, explain how data will be used moving forward.
    7. Have someone taking copious notes – recording can be done with permissions, check with your legal counsel or state for general release statement
    8. Debrief with your co-leaders – what worked, what didn’t, what would you do differently, any urgent or immediate things to follow up on
    9. Summarize results and findings, including those in the debrief
    10. Send Thank You to participants along the lines of…

Thanks so very much for taking part in our Focus Group last week. We truly appreciate you taking the time and giving your honest feedback and insight on how we at “ABC Co” can best work with you and support your goals using our services.

We are currently compiling the information you shared with us to review with our Leadership Team. Your feedback and suggestions will be used to shape how we work with all of our customers moving forward.

As we pointed out, you may have thought of other things you would like us to be aware of since we met. Please respond back to this email with any ideas, questions, or suggestions that occur to you based on our conversation. We truly do use your input when designing our experience and systems.

Thank you!

11. Review report and findings with Leadership

12. Plan of action with timeline, assignments, and accountability.

If possible, let participants know how their input helped in specific areas.

Share with all of your customers you held a focus group, what was learned, and how you intend to use the data or what improvements can or have been made

When people see you take their feedback seriously, they’ll be more likely to share with you in any context.

So now you know more about focus groups and I hope you will take the initiative to hold some. It’s a great way to get inside the mind of your customers to help shape the way you work with them and serve them.

Also, please email me your experiences with focus groups and share what worked and what didn’t, and what you would have done differently had you known what you know now.

Lastly, be sure to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher to be sure you get every episode as soon as it is released.

Thanks so much for spending this time with me today. I’ll see YOU on the next episode!

Episode 010 – The Last Impression of CX Counts More Than You Realize

Episode 010 – The Last Impression of CX Counts More Than You Realize – Shownotes…

 

You never get a second chance to make a first impression

The last impression needs as much focus as every other point in the customer journey.

The last impression of their last interaction stays with them until the next time they contact you or someone from your company works with them. You want it to be a good impression for them to continue doing business with you.

Take charge and take the time to define how you want your customers to think of you. Your customers will form their own impression, but you can increase the odds of having it match the impression you desire if you are deliberate and committed to the CX process.

Select a Three Word Lasting Impression

The end goal is to define your desired lasting impression in three words or phrases. 

If I were to call the last customer you worked with, pick three words you hope they would use at least one to describe they feel your company worked with them.

Knowledgeable, friendly, professional, fast, genuine, amazing, caring, sincere, helpful, resourceful, proactive, etc. are great examples to start with as you add your own to consider.

Build these into your DNA… does your culture support these descriptives?

Do you empower your staff to display these traits and qualities?

There’s not much that tops the feeling of relief that you are taking care of your customers… both from your perspective and theirs.

ex… they call with what they think is a big hairy scary problem… you want the ending of that conversation or issue resolution to be one of relief. That encourages them to trust you more, engage with you more., to continue to buy from and refer to you…

It’s a wonderful thing…

Your action step – – At your next leadership meeting, open with the question… what impression do we want to leave our customers every time they call or work with us?

Then guide them to narrow it down to three words. be sure your CX efforts enable and support these. If not, make adjustments in one or both and course correct.

Episode 008 – Creating an Effective Customer Journey Map

Episode 008 – Creating an Effective Customer Journey Map Shownotes

  • What Journey Mapping ISN’T
    • Not a process map
    • Not or training manual
    • Not what you hope customers experience
    • Not the time to map out every single touchpoint and the stuff behind the scenes to make the magic happen for the customer
    • Not silo driven
    • Not company focused on driving profits or sales
  • What Journey mapping IS
    • A story of what the CUSTOMER experiences
    • A map what happens to them or what they have to do shown in a timeline
    • Outside in approach
    • A chance to see what could be frustrating to the customer
    • A chance to identify Pivotal Moments that feed into the feeling of the overall experience
    • A chance to see what currently IS and see if you can add value to the customer
    • Serves as a Talking Point Map for customer conversations and focus groups.
    • This gets into the emotions you evoke along the way
  • HOW to Journey Map

Select neutral facilitator – The Facilitator must remain neutral… but with a slant toward the customer. This is not the time to point out the obstacles or reasons why things are issues from the company perspective.

Select which Journey to map – I recommend the one that is most frequently experienced by your customers OR the one you know needs urgent attention now.

I describe a hybrid between stages, the main theme of touchpoints in stages, then, when necessary, deep dive into specific points and flesh out what needs to happen behind the scenes to make it happen in the best interest of the customer.

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.

Listening to Customers Tells You Everything You Need to Know…

Listening. We all know how to do it… but few know how to do it well… and it could be driving your customers away if you don’t do it well. Listen well and you’ll increase sales and customer loyalty.

Even though communication involves two parts – speaking and listening – I believe that listening is actually 2/3 of successful communication.

Someone can speak all they want. But if the other party doesn’t listen – REALLY listen – nothing that was said matters… at all. And yes, there is a huge difference between hearing and listening. Hearing means you heard words and sounds. Listening means you understand the purpose, content, and context of the message.

About 70 % of all lost customers left because they didn’t feel valued or felt the service experience was lacking. And they should. If you don’t feel valued or that the experience was at a minimum “good,” why on earth would you continue to do business there?

Much of what goes into creating a memorable and desirable experience is derived from LISTENING to what customers tell you they want… what they like… what they don’t like… what they need… what is becoming a challenge for them… what they are confused about… what their last option didn’t do for them that caused them to leave and find you… etc.

LISTEN to the customer. Listen when they call to complain. This is an opportunity for you to be the hero and solve their problem. You can teach them how to get the most benefit from their purchase/contract/etc.

LISTEN to what is confusing for them. Make changes based on things that are becoming a trend or an issue over a certain threshold. Focus on making that form, procedure, instruction, etc simpler. The customers that voiced their issues will know you listened to them. They’ll feel valued for you taking their concern seriously and making changes as a result. They’ll feel you really want to do right by them to earn their loyalty… and they’ll stay.

LISTEN to what they like about your company and your product. Use that feedback as a springboard to determine how you can integrate those high points into other areas of your company. You know you are doing or providing that well – identify what makes it so and carry it through as far as possible. And in most cases – don’t change much unless absolutely necessary. They’ve told you they like it. Mess with it and they may not.

LISTEN to what they don’t like about your company and product. Seriously listen to that feedback. Hopefully it came about during a conversation which will provide the opportunity for you to ask probing questions to truly understand their perspective, the issue and to identify the cause.

LISTEN to suggestions customers make on something they feel would make a positive impact to them. You won’t necessarily be able to do or provide exactly what they are asking, but you may be able to generate ideas that are on the right track or come close.

Bottom line… LISTENING to your customers is really a crash course on how to stay in business long term and build a loyal customer base. Your customers are telling you exactly how to keep them coming back to you – because they want to.

 

 

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How Bad Customer Service Slashes Your Sales and What to Do About It

Bad customer service – we’ve all experienced it. The receptionist that seems impatient with us on the phone. The server at the restaurant that is condescending and rude, thus ruining our dining experience. The clerk at the store that seems to think we are invisible and rolls her eyes when we actively try to get her attention.

Poor customer service is rampant these days. It’s one of the most vocalized complaints on Facebook and Twitter. Business leaders and owners know that it is a big issue, yet few take any action to correct it, much less know HOW to correct it. They tell themselves that the offenders “are really very good people.” “They’ve been with us forever.” “They have a lot going on in their personal lives.” “It’s just a phase.”

While most of us dislike having to face negative facts, we just have to. The impact of poor customer service on your business is more than just the occasional upset customer.

Customers leave because of bad service. That’s it. Plain and simple. 70% of your lost customers have stopped doing business with you simply because someone within your company treated them rudely, indifferently, or barely acknowledged them. It has nothing to do with your product or price. Someone just didn’t deliver a smile, use their name, or engage. They just processed them through your system.

It lowers the standard of customer service in your company. No matter how well you train your staff, if you allow poor service to continue by one or more of your employees, it will slowly erode the level of service experienced by your customers.  The coworkers of negative employees will slowly start to slip in their own actions and will likely display lower levels of service than their norm. By allowing poor service to continue, you send the message to your staff that the customer experience and service skills are not important enough for you to address.

You’ll lose your best employees. The employees that are the best representatives for your company and pride themselves on the way they help your customers will soon be so uncomfortable in the environment that they will seek employment in a different department or, worse yet, another company. These are the people your customers know, like, and trust and want to continue working with. Once they leave, you’ll also lose some customers.

What to do about it…

Train Well. Be sure that you have clearly identified customer service level expectations and specifically train your staff how achieve these standards.

Coach to Success. Should you identify someone not meeting these minimum expectations, immediately be proactive and coach them on the necessary skills to guide them.

Free Up Their Future. Sometimes folks just can’t consistently meet the minimum expectations of customer service. After you’ve coached them with unsatisfactory improvement, you must help them find another position, preferably in another company. These are hard conversations to have, but your profits depend on them. You’ll also notice morale will quickly increase in the impacted department.

For help on training your staff to deliver great customer service consistently, my Excellent Service Skills: Start to Finish training package will give you everything you need, step by step. Don’t let the service your staff delivers drive customers away. Let your service reputation be the reason your customers WANT to do business with you.

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.

Niceness Makes ALL the Difference in Reducing Patient Angst

Customer service and being nice can make or break a first impression, especially in a medical office. My family recently changed insurance companies due to the recent health care changes. We were heartbroken that this also meant we had to change our physicians we’d been with for the past 10 years.(To be accurate, we could have stayed with them, but it would have cost us an additional $300 per month.)

Anyway, I’d finally been able to find a location close to our home that was accepting new patients. I called and informed the receptionist of our dilemma of being entirely unfamiliar with the doctors and hopeful that we would find the right fit for each member of my family. She immediately took care of my uneasiness by saying “Well, that’s what I’m here for and I’m happy to make any recommendations and answer any questions you have.”  This impressed me immensely.

After setting an appointment for one of my sons just two weeks out, she then said “I’m working that night, so I’m looking forward to meeting him. Just have him ask for me, Merrit, if he has any questions and I’ll make sure he’s taken care of.” I was blown away.  I used to manage medical offices in my past life and I wish I could say I’d had staff this welcoming at that time.

When I was done getting everything set and the appointments made, I complimented Merrit on her ability to take a situation that I admittedly was very anxious about and putting my mind at ease. I told her that I’m a consultant in customer and patient satisfaction and that I wished I could take her on the road with me to show how things should be done.

My point here is that you really need to understand how sad and anxious I was about switching doctors for my family. Just by her kindness and genuine helpfulness, she took the time to answer questions and to be sure that I felt as comfortable as possible with how we had scheduled things. If only we could do this in all aspects of business. Patients are customers too and she acted like she knew it. I haven’t even been to the office yet and I’m already telling a few folks how please I am with the new health clinic and staff. This is the type of recommendation we want from all of our customers. My trust level is high right now and they’d really have to mess it up to change my mind.

Remember, people do business with those that they know, like, and trust. Take a lesson from Merrit and do whatever it takes to make your new customers/clients/patients/guests feel welcome and happy they decided to do business with you.

I’d love to hear your comments below…

Resolutions Don’t Work in Customer Service… Habits Drive the Customer Experience

Resolutions Don’t Work… HABITS Do
 
First off, I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward to the promises and opportunities of 2015.
 
Many of you likely fell into the nostalgic traditions of setting New Year’s Resolutions with big plans and the best of intentions.
And… like the MAJORITY of folks, most (if not all) of those resolutions have already fallen by the wayside.
Frustrating, isn’t it.  Why does this happen? Because resolutions are only intentions. We all can think back on zillions (no exaggeration) of times we’ve had the best of intentions and can’t seem to make any of them stick.
The reason is because intentions are a mind game. ACTION is the cement to make things happen. You have to have action to take your intentions to fruition. 
 
I can say that I’m determined to complete my second full chin up in the next 6 weeks until I’m blue in the face, but that simply won’t happen unless I continue to ratchet my nutrition into check and continue my strength training. But, those actions of eating right and training are the ONLY way I’m going to get that second chin up to happen.
What does this have to do with your business and the customer experience? EVERYTHING!  
 
Think about it… you had to take many different actions to get your business to it’s current state. Whether that is a good or bad thing, a series of actions got you where you are.  To make any changes, you’ll continue to take actions. 
 
The most impactful actions are the DAILY HABITS that we make as part of our action plan. A daily habit and choice I have in my quest for strength is do I eat a donut or three eggs for breakfast? I eat the eggs.  I strength train HARD twice a week to increase my strength. I want results. I need to take action. My egg breakfast is a daily habit, an action DIRECTLY RELATED TO MY GOAL. 
 
If you want to be successful in business and in your quest to make more profits and increase your customer retention, you must take action to make that happen. Wishing it won’t make it happen. Wanting it won’t make it happen. Working at it will make it happen.
 
I have great plans for all of us in 2015. I spent some time the past few weeks mapping out content, workshops, and coaching programs to help each of you make more money, enjoy your business, improve the morale of your staff, and simply making the customer experience more natural to the DNA of your company.
 
I do need your help though. To make the information relevant and useful to you, I’m going to continue to ask for your feedback, questions, and challenges that hare keeping you from having the business of your dreams and giving you the biggest headaches. I’ve found that many of you have similar questions and it helps me when you’ve voiced your challenges specifically to your situation.  
So, remember make improving the customer experience a HABIT in your organization.  Here are some strategies and quotes to help you and your staff get there faster…
  • He who profits most serves best. – Arthur F. Sheldon
  • Be the difference between delivering what is expected and what is delightful.
  • Your customers are keeping your business alive based on what you promised to deliver. Be sure you know what promises you can make that you can KEEP no matter what. Disappointment is VERY hard to overcome.
  • As far as your customers are concerned, you ARE the company. This is not a burden, but the core of your job. You hold in your hands the power to keep the customer coming back. You have the power to make or break your customer’s loyalty. Do everything you can to exceed your customer’s expectations.
  • In business, you get what you want by giving other people what they want. – Alice MacDougall
Happy New Year and I’m honored to have you in my community to change the world of business, one experience at a time!
Helping you focus on your customers,
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