Step up customer service, shift to customer experience
There are ever-increasing demands for customer expectations, and the need to surprise customers, or create the WOW factor, with innovative service delivery, has led to increased competition in customer service excellence. How do companies step up to this? In order to differentiate, companies are left confused and they end up inventing new strategies instead of knowing what the customer really wants from a product or service. We need to be shifting to customer experience.
Focusing on what really matters – customer service – will save companies a lot of time and give businesses amazing profits. It’s not always about coming up with new products and services, it’s just about how to get the service delivered by giving an awesome customer experience.
It’s important for companies to know the difference between customer experience and customer service. Customer service is reactive, while customer experience is proactive.
The purpose of any business is to create and keep customers. But keeping them is not so simple. Research shows that 39% of customers decrease their spending in a company due to one simple bad experience, and 17% stop spending altogether. It’s interesting to see also how quickly those consumers share their bad experience through word of mouth, and I am one of those customers! I comment through Facebook, and through reviews like Yelp and Zomato. Successful companies capitalise on this by improving the customer experience.
So where do you start? With the customer? No, with employees. Engaged employees are your asset. They do good things that are not expected of them. So you hear: “Thank you for calling AT&T, how can I help you?” The client is upset, you handle it, you react, you solve. Customer service is about saying thank you for listening, thank you, I am sorry for your frustration, here is your receipt, would you like to upgrade your service?
Customer experience is really taking it to the next level – VIP customers get converted based on Customer Experience. For example, Sephora makes up have a Beauty Insider card that I love using, and Amazon Prime is also another company that knows how to build a relationship with me.
Being proactive is about the details, it’s about the way you are treated. For example, if I call Mastercard, they will remind me of the next anniversary, they send me and find me something unique for me. Amazon can find out my buying trends, or Apple will talk to me, not script something to me. “By the way Maha, how was your day today?”. “By the way, thank you for your loyalty, we appreciate this. You’ve been a customer with us for 10 years now.” It’s always nice to hear compliments! Your VIPs are like a marriage and based on that, they become your best recruiters. They become your recruiters for free. VIPs are so valuable! It’s pure incredible service. From the brand, you purchase and use, how many of them give that customer experience?
Here are some acronyms to the word SERVICE that summarise what companies need to step up to:
Even if your employee is talking over the phone, whether it is a customer service centre, a bank, a retail assistant receiving a call, smiling while talking to customers is a must. Did you know that smiling while talking makes your voice softer and your attitude friendlier towards the customer? A smile goes a long way, and ultimately signals and puts the customer at ease immediately.
Customer engagement is where it all starts. So by having an awesome end-to-end experience, or for example, great interaction between a staff member and myself, or a fully implemented customer support process, then this memorable engagement will be the all-time solution to customer service excellence. A lot of organisations overlook the gaps in the overall customer engagement journey, and as a result, not only are customers dissatisfied, but business suffers. I would not want to go back to the same restaurant if I had a bad experience.
It’s an understatement to say that respect is at the heart of customer service. Respect should not only be for the customer, but also for their views, their expectations and their response towards the service being provided by you, the service provider. So to satisfy and retain the customer, and to achieve long term customer loyalty, then respect is key. Service excellence comes out of respect, and this starts internally. It’s almost impossible to expect customer service excellence from your employees if you don’t create excellence internally.
Organisations, big or small, have to ensure that the most loyal customers stay loyal and that all customers continue to grow. For example, in my kids’ school, I was thinking to switch schools. I did not feel valued enough to renew my kids’ registration. How and what locks a parent into a school? Did that school empower customer service staff to deal with me in a real, individual way that addresses my individual issues? If the staff can make me feel cared for, then the return on investment is always worth this small exercise – the caring and personal touch.
Some organizations think that customers, as well as staff, understand the processes and procedures. However, that’s not always the case; being transparent is crucial to having great service. Your staff have to follow up and keep the customer informed on what’s going on in every step. If you keep the customer informed, then they rest assured that you are the right person/company to deliver their needs. I went to my usual local café and I wasn’t informed that they had a special promotion between 9 am and 11 am, because the usual staff member had a day off! How annoying of an experience is that? Utilize your frontline employees to create a constant feedback loop with your customers, and you’ll have something your competition won’t have — valuable information.
C-are / Communicate
Businesses need to develop a better strategy for communicating with their consumers, especially via social media. 3 D communication is needed now more than ever and brands need to be constantly present on all social media platforms, explaining to customers in every customer touchpoint, the real story about their product/service. And it’s just as vital to communicate internally before communicating with customers.
E-mpathy / Enthusiasm
Customers want to know that you value and understand their concerns, frustrations and any special circumstances. You can’t argue with the customer! When I called a hotel because I lost my jacket, I was on hold for 10 minutes, I got transferred 3 times, although I took all the people’s names. Everyone made excuses for not handling my issue. Finally, I got hold of the supervisor, who got back to me and said: You are right, this is our mistake. She was the only person who did not argue with me, and who dealt with me properly. I like that hotel now, but imagine if that supervisor was not empathic, it would have cost the companies losses.
Customer Experience is about Handling Issues Properly.
A proper CRM will help understand the customer problem. That threat is being shared and documents across the team internally. I hate to be given the run around if I complain about wanting an exchange from a retail store. I don’t want my money back, I just want SERVICE!
Customer Experience is About Being Unique and Personal.
I hope we made your day better, etc… sounds so scripted, like a copy and paste script. I don’t like to have a robot talking to me. Instead, it would be nice if the team got to know my needs and understood my frustrations. I always get annoyed when I’m talking to a bank contact centre.
Customer Experience is About Paying Attention to Loyalty.
I’ve been a customer of a certain gym for 8 years, so they’d better take care of me since I’ve been telling a lot of people about this gym. If I decide to leave, what action will they take to keep me loyal?
Customer Experience is About Taking the Frustration to the Lowest Level.
I went to a nail bar and the nail technician literally had not prepared the typical items needed. She kept checking her mobile, and to top it up, the cleaner started to mop the floor next to me. I felt like I was sitting in the kitchen! The smell was not relaxing, and the whole experience was not worth it, because I was there to relax, not get stressed. I asked for the Manager, explained the whole story, and I said to her, ‘you have my details, if you like to get back to me, that’s up to you’. So 10 minutes later, she called and apologised, and she offered me a complimentary back massage the next time I come. She tried to alleviate my frustrations and agreed with me that it was the fault of the staff. She built a relationship and understood that this should not have happened. She also got back to me fast. She was calm and relaxed when she returned my call. Today’s customers are demanding. They want an answer on twitter today!
One of the biggest challenges that companies face is the lack of attention and failure to provide smooth after-sales experience. Customer service teams need to follow up on clients and make sure to ask them everything about what they liked or disliked about the product ranging from the price, usability, service and all factors that encompass the experience they are trying to provide. Every customer journey map and every touchpoint matters.
The article was written by Maha Ahmad, Content Developer & Marketing Consultant.
Graduate with M.A. in Marketing and a Diploma in Digital Marketing from the UK, Maha has 15 years’ experience in content development, branding, event management and communications in Dubai and the UK. Projects cover the 360 mixes of marketing channels with a focus on helping entrepreneurs and start-ups in their journey to grow successfully, by identifying the right steps to get leads, planning, and guiding them through the choice of the right Marcom channels.