CSP Happenings

Tagged: word of mouth

When It Comes to Customer Loyalty, Think Little

February 11, 2015

customer loyalty measurementIt’s a customer experience manager’s job to keep an eye on the big picture of satisfaction: the various programs in place, the ever-updating customer data and information, and the overall strategies to attract and retain customer loyalty.

But when any given customer walks through your doors, calls up your customer service, or engages with you online, what they’ll notice is all the little things your business does to make the customer experience better.

And when those customers talk to their friends and family, they won’t be waxing poetic about strategy and data, or using words like attrition and retention. Instead, they’ll be highlighting all those little things they’ve noticed as compelling reasons to choose your business.

Think of it like this: you can buy your spouse the most expensive gifts, lavish them with compliments, and profess your undying love with a big romantic gesture, but it’s the little day-to-day effort and attention that keep the romance alive and serve as proof of how much you value them.

You can probably think of a few little things your preferred businesses and brands have done to earn your repeat business. Here are some examples of small but significant actions your business and staff can take to drive customer loyalty:

  • Adopt an attentive attitude.
    It doesn’t matter how stressed, fatigued, bored, or otherwise distracted a customer service representative may be – a genuinely friendly greeting and undivided attention go a long way in making the customer feel valued. If the rep has to interact with a computer or device to provide service, eye contact becomes even more important to reassuring the customer that they have your attention. No customer likes being made to feel like an inconvenience.
  • Be prompt and personal.
    Customer service requests come in from all directions – in-person, by phone, by e-mail, by web form or chat service, and even via social media. Customers expect you to reply promptly on all of these channels. An automatically-generated “We have received your request and will get back to you shortly” message is the digital equivalent of being put on hold, but even that is better than a customer sending an email into a black hole “[email protected]” inbox and never getting a reply.
  • whale-311478_640Surprise them.
    The previous two items on this list represent customers’ baseline expectations of service, but to really earn points with them, go above and beyond the basics. At one hotel, a customer called to reserve a room for a visit during which she’d be undergoing cancer treatment, and mentioned in passing that she’d always wanted to go whale watching. Imagine her surprise and delight to find a stuffed whale on her bed at check-in!
  • Give ground.
    A customer who brings an issue, complaint, or concern to a rep’s attention wants to walk away feeling like they’ve won, even if the concession is small. This might mean issuing a discount or coupon, cutting a unique deal or waiving a fee, or delivering a heartfelt and personal apology if the issue simply can’t be addressed or was unavoidable. These gestures show customers that you care about keeping their business and will do what it takes to stay in their good graces.
  • Make every customer feel like a regular.
    Through customer data, you likely know who your most and least valuable customers are. But the customers themselves want to feel equally valued from the outset, rather than feeling they have to earn your attention and care. First-class or coach, regular, intermittent, or first-time customer, “rewards” member or not, they deserve the best service you have to offer.

Remember, customer loyalty starts at home, within your own walls. It’s hard to create a memorable experience that influences customer loyalty without a company culture that supports it with engaged, enthusiastic employees. Give them a scratch behind the ears, too, while you’re at it, and watch the goodwill spread to your customers.

How do you know what’s working? Listen to the Voice of the Customer. The open-ended options on customer feedback tools are the perfect place to look for comments on these little things that customers appreciate (or find lacking). A strategic VoC program empowers you with knowledge of the key drivers of customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Beware the Ripple Effect of a Single Bad Customer Experience

July 21, 2014

This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance.

It’s a familiar sentence to anyone who has had to call a customer service line for support. But one Comcast customer recently turned the tables on the cable provider, and recorded a maddening conversation with a customer service representative that quickly went viral.

Ryan Block’s objective was to cancel and disconnect his service with Comcast. According to him, after his wife had already spent ten minutes on the phone going around in circles with the representative, he took over and began recording the call himself. He then uploaded the recording to the audio streaming site SoundCloud, where it gathered enough momentum to catch media attention.

You can listen to the call yourself here.

In these eight minutes, Mr. Block puts forth his request to cancel in a variety of creative, straightforward and polite ways, only to be blocked or derailed by the increasingly agitated rep at every turn.

Obviously, part of the rep’s responsibility to Comcast is to limit cancellations and retain customers, and he may have been incentivized with compensation for doing so. But his aggressive manner and obstructive methods indicate a corporate culture in which the voice of the customer falls on deaf ears.

On their own behalf, Comcast issued a statement saying, “We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block […] While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.”

But as the story gathered steam, it also gathered comments from thousands of other Comcast customers (and former customers) as well as customers of other cable giants like Time Warner, with whom Comcast is set to merge, pending FCC approval.

Many shared their own horror stories of similar experiences with service reps, while others lamented that due to lack of consumer choice among cable providers, Comcast and its peers have little incentive to improve the customer experience, in spite of any promise to emphasize respect.

If there’s a lesson in this for other businesses, it’s that the voice of just one customer can have enormous reach when amplified by the megaphone of the internet. No business is immune to that threat, but the damage is completely preventable when the company culture is aligned with the objective of providing an excellent customer experience, down to the last representative.