Author: Eric Sims
Source: Customer Think
The paradigm has evolved with servicing customers. Because of the upsurge in competition, shifting your thinking about customer service is as simple as calling it, the customer experience. Once you start thinking in terms of boosting the customer experience, then you’ll see faint, yet important changes in your approach to retaining the customer, which leads to procuring new ones.
What Makes a Leading-Edge Customer Experience?
Customer service is company focused, not customer focused. To make the change, you need to examine every single moment your customer interacts with your company. From the storefront to the website, from a salesperson to a customer service agent you need to understand what the customer says about their experience with your organization. This goes beyond superficial online reviews, or CSATs, and digs deep into the overall experience.
A Leading-Edge customer experience is one that keeps customers coming back, while evangelizing about their experience and your business. It turns customers into advocates and ambassadors. One of the ways to make sure your customers are completely satisfied is to give your employees (internal or outsourced) the resources and authority to deliver on the promise of excellent service. Customers want to deal with one person, not three at a time. This is even more important when a customer has a problem. Empowering your employees to do what’s best for the customer will avoid negative experiences. I learned this as a “one & done” approach. Today many call it “one interaction resolution”.
Discover how to connect to your customers like never before.
Employees need to be trained on giving a great customer experience, because it doesn’t come naturally. They need to be trained on how to provide fast, solid solutions for customers who are having issues, questions or concerns with products or services. They also need to follow the steps that help them be successful with each and every customer. To help you with this process, we made a list of 8 steps anyone can do to create a great customer experience.
1: Under Promise/Over Deliver: This isn’t a new saying, but what it really means is to exceed your customers’ expectations. Which means to first discover their expectations or even help set them. It doesn’t always have to be something huge. It could be how fast you respond to an email or chat which causes your customer to comment, “Man, that was fast!” Create an expectation, one that your customers will accept, and then exceed it!
2: Create A Balance Between the Digital Experience and the Human Experience: We are in the greatest digital era of online experiences, chatbots, AI, AR, and more. Companies are captivated by these technologies, in sometimes to the point of overusing them. They’re meant to create a better experience for the customers, but unfortunately, they are being relied upon too heavily at times. The data shows that there must be a balance between the digital and human experiences. There must be a human backup, or you risk losing the connection to the customer when they need you most.
3: Dominate Your Space with First Impressions: First impressions aren’t always the first time you meet someone. It might be the 500th time you interact with someone, but the initial impression sets a tone. It’s how you greet someone, how you smile at them, how you answer the phone, how your website looks or functions, the tone of your chats, and more. This may all seem very remedial, but that first impression is paramount. It sets the tone for whatever interaction is to follow. It creates a perception, good or bad, that’s hard to change or get past.
4: Migrate Your Customers from the Human Dominant Experience to a Digital Experience: Reflecting back on No. 2 above, the idea of finding balance between digital and human support was to not lose sight of the importance of the human interaction, especially when a customer needs help. Yet, there can be times when it’s best to move from a human interaction to digital. I once needed help removing a software program and called to talk to someone in the IT support center. The agent said he would be happy to coach me through the process, but he had a better idea. He asked if he could email me a link to a video that would take me step-by-step through the process. This was a brilliant idea. He gave me exactly what I needed and he freed himself up to focus on other customers. There are times where human support needs a digital backup.
5: Be Convenient AF: Here’s an uber-powerful way to take your customer service experience to the Leading-Edge: Be convenient AF! In other words, eliminate friction, be easy to do business with, and be accessible and transparent. How easy are you to do business with? Have you ever personally gone through your customer interaction process? What friction exists for customers in your in the process to do business with you—online/offline? At the end of the day, a customer will choose the organization or product that is easiest to do business with. That’s how powerhouse companies, like Amazon, are disrupting entire industries. Ask yourself, “What can we do to be more convenient for our customers?” Or, “What friction can we eliminate to make doing business with us easier?” Convenience is KING and is a powerful CX strategy!
6: Every Complaint is an Opportunity to be Unforgettable: Let that sink in! Most of us have dealt with complaints with the “oh Sh%t here he/she goes again!” At some point customers are going to have complaints. But, complaints can be used to your advantage. They are the greatest opportunities to prove the customer made the right decision to do business with you and to improve your services in the future. Embrace that contrast within your business. That’s what keeps you up on the leading-edge of this. It’s super healthy! The goal is not to just fix the problem. It’s to restore confidence. Here’s a five-step process to help you do just that:
1. Admit there is a problem. This defuses the issue and gets you aligned with the customer.
2. Apologize for the problem. Tip: say you apologize, not I am sorry. Also, NO BUTS. It negates the apology
3. Solve, not fix the problem! Solutions are big and long term. Fixes are short term. Think long money.
4. Own it! Not partially, totally. This puts the power back in your hands and shows the customer the company’s integrity.
5. Act with urgency. How fast would you want someone to solve this for you? Now double that speed!
7: Demonstrate a Solid K-Base: Knowledge is power and builds credibility and trust. Customers expect to get the information they need, whether it be on a website or with a salesperson or customer support rep. They expect you to be the experts on your products, processes and procedures. They want you to be the expert. Smart companies are loading up their websites, chatbots, and YouTube channels with immediate answers to all of their customers’ questions. They’re also staffing their support centers with knowledgeable reps who can answer questions and deliver the support the customers need. Customers want and expect to get answers to their questions, whether it’s through a digital resource or a person in a contact center. Anything less erodes trust and confidence.
8: REBOOT: We’re only as good as our last customer. No matter how good we may think our reputation is for amazing service and unforgettable customer experiences. Each and every interaction we have with another customer is an opportunity to start over. It’s a hero to zero sport. Every interaction is the bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, bases loaded with 2 strikes pitch. Will you hit the homerun or strikeout?
It’s Your Call!