I’m hopping the pond (and departments) to bring you a clever and informative infograph from Experian. Sure, they’re measuring in pounds and labeling things as “marketing,” but they clearly illustrate that longer wait times cause customers to leave, which mean you lose business. That ties back to my recent post, Waiting Takes Too Long For Customers. They also discuss accurate targeting, which means getting the right message to the right customer in the right place/time. Getting that targeting wrong leads customers to think you’re not listening to them, which often leads them to assume you don’t care enough to listen. The multichannel marketing lane can cause the same reaction in customers, because they already told you once how they felt/what they wanted, why should they have to tell you again? Good read. Cheers!
Customer experience is clearly still all the rage in business these days. We’ve gone from the age of making as many widgets as possible, to making them as BIG as possible, and then trying to get them as small as possible to selling experiences more than the widgets themselves. For some, making the transition to this experiential push is tricky, because it shifts shape and form and is different from person to person. That personal effect makes it challenging to mass produce.
I had an experience with E-Trade last night that nailed it, in my mind. I’m still floored at the simple genius of it all, and the mass-production potential for other companies. My family has recently moved. If you’ve moved lately, you know how big of a task that can be. Things get broken, take longer than you think, and seem to drag on forever. And where is your magazine? I know I’m showing my age, yes I get the digital subscription too, but you can’t smell the fragrance samples from the tablet just yet (dear iPad/Android app developers, save some trees and work that out for us when you get time? Thanks.)
Anyway I went to the mailbox last night and saw an envelope from E-Trade with one of those yellow forwarding labels and I thought “Oh great, I forgot to change my mailing address with E-Trade. Yet another chore to do tonight. When I sat down and opened the envelope, I was amazed. E-Trade was reaching out to let me know that the United States Postal Service indicated I had changed my address, and so they went ahead and changed the address on my account for me. They just wanted to let me know, in case that’s not what I wanted them to do. Imagine my surprise and delight! One less task for me!
So, let’s look at risks here. Some percentage of customers (I would think a small percentage) may find this creepy and complain. It could smack of big brother. Some other percentage (I’m still thinking a vast minority) might not have wanted to change the address on their account, even though they forwarded their mail with the USPS. And, yet another small minority may have had their address changed in error, but this should be caught with the notice to the previous address.
I love this. I’m often caught saying at work and in life that our customers don’t work here. We do. So do as much for them as possible. This appears to be one low-risk strategy that could benefit more companies. I know I would appreciate it. Feel free to use this example as starting point for similar ideas. Are there things you can do to take care of the details for your customer?
Yes, you read that right. Waiting is hard and it takes too long. It’s boring. Have you noticed lately that waiting feels much more difficult than it used to? We do all kinds of things to avoid waiting. Today we tweet out our question or post it on Facebook in an attempt to avoid waiting on hold with companies. We go online and click that “chat now” button instead of walking into the store for assistance. We do not want to wait. For things like automotive repairs that cannot be completed online, UGGGHH! We have to actually go there? I hope they have wifi so I can watch something on my iPad. If not I’ll just have to scroll through Facebook on my phone.
I know, this conversation causes many people to start talking about the “good old days” before people were so connected and could sit still for a while patiently. I remember those days, and they were boring. We also had far fewer items on our to-do lists, if I remember correctly. But regardless of our positions on whether we should behave in this fashion, the reality today is that we do.
So, what do we do about it, as business people trying to please our customers? Maybe try one of these things:
- Decrease wait times – Make every attempt to decrease your wait times. Perhaps increase staffing, decrease length of interaction (whether in person, on the phone, on social or chat)
- Increase fun things – Even if you’ve decreased your wait times, increasing fun or distracting things will make wait time seem shorter. In person, provide a television, wifi, coloring books or games for children. On hold, play a local radio station or hold info-tainment (factual entertainment tidbits). Steer clear of bland hold music if you can.
- Let me wait from afar – Have you called Delta lately? If they have a hold time, you can press a button to have them call you back when they’re ready for you. Then I don’t really feel like I’m holding. Or, like restaurants, give me a pager or text me when it’s my turn.
These are things about the customer experience we can control to create a more positive interaction. Some cost more than others. Hey, if a box of crayons helps my customer smile, then maybe it’s worth the price!
Recently I came across two vastly different examples of customer service I thought I’d share so that we might compare and contrast the customer experience.
Example 1: The Condo Rental
On the spur of the moment, I decided my family needed a weekend getaway to the beach. I started searching online for any available accommodations that would meet our needs (yes, I was categorizing ocean-front as a “need” in this case. No judgement, it was a need to me!) I was lucky enough to find the perfect property, that was managed by a vacation company I will not name. I went to book the condo online; however the process wasn’t working properly. I called the telephone number and spoke with a lady who was very nice, but not very forthcoming with information. She informed me the website had outdated information, and that the particular condo I found was booked for the weekend. And then there was silence. So I asked “do you manage other units in the building that might be available?” She said “yes.” More silence. “Do you think we could check to see if any of them might be available?” I pushed. “Um, ok sure,” she responded. I’ll spare you the rest, but the conversation continued on in that way until I practically begged her to take my reservation. I would like to share that the unit we reserved turned out to be just what I “needed,” ocean front and all.
Example 2: Right House, Wrong Package
I ordered a Keurig drawer and two ballerina jewelry boxes online at JC Penney, along with some bench cushions. A week or so later, three boxes arrived on my porch. Two of the boxes contained the bench cushions, as I expected. When I opened the third box, I was surprised to see a Keurig drawer that appeared to have been re-taped and two battered shoe boxes with rubber bands around each box. When I called customer service to report the mix-up, a nice lady named Autumn apologized for the inconvenience and immediately keyed a new order for replacement items to be shipped. I asked if I could return the items that did not belong to me to my nearest JC Penney by the end of the week, and she said that would be fine.
Customers do not expect flawless execution by corporations with every transaction. It would be nice, but most of us consumers are reasonable enough to know that just isn’t possible. What we find, though, is that when proper attention is paid and the company moves quickly to rectify the situation with little or no effort from the customer, customer satisfaction can be saved. I would argue that when there is a mix-up, and it is fixed right away with a little apology and a human touch, that can create more customer loyalty than might have existed without the flub in the first place. Now, JC Penney and I haven’t always had the best relationship, but past few times I’ve needed them, their customer service reps have been able to quickly solve my problems. With me, that goes a long way.
So, as usual, let’s consider our own organizations. Is there room for improvement in your company when customers report issues? Do you offer assistance on Twitter, but then require the customer to always call customer support to get assistance? Are you asking for customer information when you really don’t need it? See if a policy change could create some customer loyalty for you.
Found this great infograph Five9 shared by Five9. I think it’s critical from an operational perspective to select a tool that allows visibility to traditional call center metrics. These metrics provide valuable insight into what is coming in and how much. Then, once you decide strategically which pieces to answer, it’s great to have the ability to turn the volume on or off.
Let’s talk about merging. You know, good, old-fashioned highway merging. The concept is (as I understand it) that as two lanes become one, the people in those two lanes keep a normal pace of traffic until such time as the lanes come together. When this happens, the cars should come together, like a zipper, one and then the other, to form a single line. This takes cooperation from both parties, but it seems simple enough. I was driving to work this morning, trying to wake up and drinking my coffee, listening to some upbeat music on the radio. As I approached this merge point on the highway, I stayed in my lane that was going to merge with the lane next to me, and followed that white line to edge over. The person next to me must have a different concept of merging, because he sped up from behind me to get even with me, and blocked this merging action, forcing me to slow down. He basically entered my universe and said, quite clearly, “NO!” So, what can I do but slow down, and slow down the person behind me, and slow down the person in the lane behind him? Not much. Because he said “NO! I’M FIRST!”
His action came from a place of no, of not accepting what was happening around him. This can happen in customer support too. When we come from a place of “no,” whether it’s subtle or right out loud, it causes discomfort and things don’t flow easily like they could. It also creates negative feelings that, by the way, attach themselves to your brand. If that guy on the highway had a brand or a logo on his car, you can bet I’d associate his actions and my subsequent feelings about those actions with his brand. Anytime we tell a customer “I can’t do that,” or “That’s not the process,” or “You need to…” we are coming from a position of “no.” Perhaps today we can take some time to ask ourselves what it would take to get to “yes.” How far, exactly, are you from yes? Is there a small process or policy you could alter that could get you to “yes”? Are you missing something that could get you to “yes”? Certainly we must all say “no” sometimes, but I think after review you might find a few occasions that could easily be changed. The guy running me off the road to be first this morning was really probably much closer to “yes” than he thought, and I bet he could have made his own day a bit brighter by saying “yes” to me because he would have already gotten a good deed out of the way.
Think about how you can get to “yes” today. Would a few little steps help your brand be associated with positive experiences rather than negative ones?
I like this infograph by Sage because it gets right to the heart of how doing great customer service is rewarded by customers staying with you. Many dissatisfied customers never share the reasons they leave for other companies; they just go. One reason, possibly unspoken, is a lack of excellent customer service. Social media is very visible and a great place to showcase the great service your company provides every day.
This infographic was produced by sage.co.uk
CorvisaCloud polled more than 1100 people and put the findings into this easy infograph for us. Really, I think the responders are saying what we all think as consumers. See if you can find an opportunity in your business today that reduces or eliminates these customer pain points today. Visit www.corvisacloud.com to learn more.
Walt Disney has been quoted as saying “The difference in winning and losing is most often… not quitting.” This applies to many areas of life, but today I’d like to apply the concept to exceptional customer service.
Often, as a customer, I have asked for things from customer service professionals and been told, very quickly, that it is impossible to grant my request. Further probing, and tenacity on my part, often changes that answer. My experience seems quite common lately. Customers that exert the most effort toward reaching their desired result seem to more commonly achieve their desired end state. This has been the way of the world for quite some time.
But, let me ask you something. Are you noticing a change? Perhaps it’s small, but I have seen change. I have consistently received exceptional customer service from USAA. I even have received great customer service from the branch personnel at Chase Bank (but, of course, read Chase Ambushes My Twitter IPO Trade with Poor Customer Service before we get too excited about that). Could it be that companies are catching on to the fact that good customer service can be a unique selling point for your brand? It seems possible to me.
What does that mean to you as a business? Well, I think it means that those who are not catching on to the importance of remarkable customer service (remarkable, meaning literally that it is worth talking about), when compared to otherwise equal competitors, may be at a disadvantage.
What’s one thing you can do today to move the needle on your customer experience? Be tenacious. Teach your customer service staff to be tenacious. If you think about the common thread behind poor customer experiences you’ve had, many of them can be linked to a lack of tenacity on the part of the customer service rep. Nobody went out of their way to try to make a difference for you, to try to get you what you needed. Now, think about the last great customer experience you had. I bet that person got the result you were looking for by trying a little harder. Maybe they made that extra phone call. Or maybe they spent a few more minutes with their leadership to get you what you needed. Either way, they were trying. They were trying for YOU. And they tried harder than other people have in the past.
We can all do this. We can spend a few extra minutes tracking down an answer for a customer. We can offer to lend a hand, or put in the good word, or ask one more person for help on behalf of a customer. It just takes more tenacity than the competition is willing to expend. Give it a try.
In addition to being informative, this infograph by Bolt Insurance Agency titled “Keeping Customers Happy Keeps You In Business” can serve as a motivational tool for you and your employees. Sometimes we can forget why we try so hard for customers, or wonder why we put in all that effort when we may not hear anything back. This shows that customers vote with their feet, so to speak, and that even after a bad experience, corrective action can actually win back customers. Try sharing this with your staff!
Via: BOLT Insurance