Go the extra mile and make your customers feel valued
We’ve all been at the receiving end of both extremes. At the ‘wow’ end of customer service is the member of staff who goes out of their way to help you with a problem even when it’s nothing to do with the business. It’s the traffic warden who helps you fish your keys out of the drain where you dropped them trying to carry too many bags to the car. In the pouring rain. Who doesn’t write you a ticket. At the other end, of the scale is the other traffic warden, waiting by the meter for the second it ticks over, ready to slap that ticket on your windscreen.
If your staff were traffic wardens, which type would they be? The kind that adheres strictly to the rules, does the job to the letter and switches off the minute their shift is over? You might have an efficient business that way, but you won’t build customer loyalty. The second your competitors offer a cheaper service, your business is gone, unless you can find corners to cut to bring your prices down even further. No-one wins in a price war. Not even the customer, because at some point the product or service quality suffers.
Identifying Woeful experiences
Before you can move from woeful to ‘wow’ful, you have to know what you’re doing wrong and what you’re doing right. Develop a way to measure customer satisfaction with metrics, and listen to customer complaints.
As soon as you see a discrepancy between customer expectations and reality that isn’t in your favour, look at the obstacles preventing you meeting their expectations. Then find a way to overcome them.
Training your staff to ‘wow’ customers
Start with the basics. Ensure you have customer service standards and expectations documented, and train all your staff to meet them as a matter of course. This includes, but isn’t restricted to:
• Being polite and respectful, and using customers’ names in conversation and correspondence.
• Listening to the customer, checking understanding with questions and agreeing on the desired outcome.
• Being able to spot and deal with unrealistic expectations, and finding the best compromise, even if it means sending the customer to a competitor.
• Always doing what’s best for the customer, from putting yourself in their shoes, to being honest when things go wrong and using the customer’s preferred method of communication.
Build communication systems and customer databases that make this easy for your staff. Connect online and offline systems up so you have access to your customer’s information and your customer receives a seamless service. Where possible, put the customer in control of the information they receive from you.
• Let customers tell you whether they prefer phone, email or text contact, and use that information to tailor their experience with you.
• Make it possible for sales staff to update billing information.
• Write content for different customer segments in language that makes sense to them.
• Give customers the choice between ‘self’service’ options and interaction with a real person.
• Actively seek customer feedbackthrough every channel, and keep the customer informed of the outcome of their feedback.
Most importantly, make sure staff know they have the discretion to bend a rule here or there, and provide a ‘wow’ budget. Let everyone know it’s more important to keep a customer happy than anything else, and if they make a mistake with good intentions, stand behind them. Staff who are afraid of being disciplined won’t go out of their way to help a customer.