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Tagged: sales

Superior Customer Service Requires More than Just ‘Checking the Boxes’

April 1, 2015

You’re doing all the right things. You have a Voice of the Customer program in place. You’re capturing, measuring, and evaluating both customer sentiment and employee performance. Your customer-facing staff is vetted and well trained. A superior customer experience is a priority at all levels of your organization.

But when the VOC results come in, there’s still a gap between performance and satisfaction. What’s going on here?

The missing piece of the puzzle could be authenticity.

A satisfying customer service experience hinges on the interaction between the customer and your business. First impressions happen every day and go a long way. So do the little things like using a customer’s name, making sure they are served promptly and efficiently, maintaining a pleasant attitude and tone, making eye contact, and saying Thank You.

These elements make up the basic checklist of Customer Service Do’s and Don’ts. But even if your staff is consistently checking every box on that list, customers can still feel unwelcome, challenged, or dissatisfied with their experience if they sense a lack of authenticity from a representative or from your business as a whole.

It takes more than checking the boxes to win a customer over.

checklist

 

Plainly stated, customers can tell when a business is just going through the motions.

They know, for instance, if the representative they’re speaking with on the phone is just reading from a script or repeating a routine they’ve already performed 100 times that day. The result? They feel unimportant and dehumanized. (This is one reason many customers dislike automated phone systems.)

customer service employee

Customers can tell when your employees are having a bad day.

They can tell when an employee is in a rush – to get home, to serve other customers, to hand them off to the next person in line. The result? They feel like an unwelcome nuisance.

They will pick up on all sorts of little cues like tone of voice, body language, and the level of surrounding stress. If any of those things strike them as being off, it doesn’t matter how many times they heard their name used or made eye contact – their experience has already been negatively impacted, and once that happens, it’s hard to erase.

The same applies for digital and text interactions, too. If you’ve ever written a letter to your Senator only to get a form letter in response, you know how frustrating the “copy/paste” effect can be.

Automation has its place. For example, no one expects every “Forgot password?” request to connect them to someone who can personally help them track it down or reset it.

But it’s still worth being aware that canned messages can convey a different message entirely than the one you want to send. We’re only half-listening to you. We can’t give you our full attention. You are not unique – we have plenty of other customers just like you, and you don’t deserve special treatment.

On the other side of that coin, you have everything to gain by going out of your way to make an authentic, personal connection to a customer – to remember not just their name but something personal about them, to make small talk while you pull their information up on your computer, to pay them a genuine compliment, ask them a question, or offer (if needed) a sincere apology.

Your standard customer service checklist serves as a Pass/Fail measurement of an experience, but authentic effort and personal gestures are the invisible final box that, once checked, pushes an experience from ‘good enough’ to ‘exceptional!’

So if you are seeing a gap between performance and satisfaction in your customer feedback, it may reflect that customers are expecting a little more from you than the bare minimum effort to keep their business. The good news is, this opens an opportunity for growth and innovation in how you meet customers’ needs and provide an outstanding experience.

For more information about CSP’s customer experience strategies and the programs we build to support them, contact us today by phone at (402) 399-8790 ext:101, via our website, or on Twitter @csprofiles

Treat Every Impression As a First Impression to Build Loyalty

March 18, 2015

Common wisdom holds that you only get one chance at a first impression, the best opportunity to influence on a person’s overall opinion than anything that follows.

Yes, it’s true that a first impression can only happen once. But first impressions are also happening all the time. Every interaction between a business and a customer begins with an opportunity to set the customer’s expectation of their experience.

shaking hands on a first impression can impact loyaltyWhether for a brand new audience or with longtime returning customers, the first few moments of any encounter with your business impacts their sense of satisfaction and likelihood to remain loyal.

Simple friendly gestures and a professional attitude may seem like small things, but they can make a big difference on the front lines of customer service. Customer-facing personnel get dozens of opportunities a day to put these principles into practice, but it doesn’t fall only on their shoulders. It’s the top-to-bottom culture of a business, down to the individual workplace, that supports a superior customer experience at every touch point.

Not every first impression happens face-to-face, of course. These days, a business’s digital presence creates even more touch points. Every visit to your website, social network profiles, and mobile site or app, and every email or SMS message you deliver to your audience, is another opportunity for a first impression.

Customers care as much about useful and attractive website or app design, and polite, engaging behavior on social media, as they do about the behavior of a customer service rep. This is where customer experience and user experience overlap.

Whether considering a personal interaction or a digital one, the same fundamental rules of first impressions apply:

  • Be polite and courteous. Etiquette may have evolved over the years, but basic good manners still matter. Don’t underestimate the importance of Please and Thank You.
  • Be friendly, from the heart. Trust your customers to be able to spot the difference between parroted or forced friendliness and genuine interest. Even a scripted response delivered in a pleasant tone of voice can create a smoother experience.
  • Be timely. Make it clear you are ready, willing, and able to help. In the age of instant on-demand gratification, customers don’t like to be kept waiting for a resolution or be given the run-around between different resources and personnel.
  • Be thoughtful and considerate. Empathize with customers and strive to anticipate their needs and accommodate their challenges. This goes double for customers who are bringing a complaint to your attention.
  • Use the customer’s name – for in-person and phone greetings, when interacting with them on social media, and with custom fields on your website and email templates. “Dear Customer” could be anyone.

The customer experience is a journey, and every step along that journey contributes to long-term loyalty and satisfaction. So treat every step like it’s the first.

For more information about CSP’s customer experience strategies and the programs we build to support them, contact us today by phone at (402) 399-8790 ext:101, via our website, or on Twitter @csprofiles