Carolyn Blunt presents her 5-step plan for providing a great customer experience.
1. Train your front-line staff
It is not enough to train your front-line staff in the systems, procedures or knowledge for their part of the service chain. In addition, we need to actively share the bigger organisational ambitions and give real-life examples of how their actions can impact the reputation of the organisation.
Facilitating regular sessions, even bite-sized ‘power hours’ can be really helpful to continuously remind and reinforce the customer-centric mind-set you need. Support their soft skills regularly; the ability to manage their own emotions, positive language, listening, questioning, empathy, openness (as opposed to defensiveness) and influencing skills are all critical.
2. Train team leaders
If management is mostly about the processes, schedules and targets, leadership is mostly about behaviour. So train team leaders, not team managers.
Facilitate leadership sessions to train your team leaders to understand leadership styles, behaviours, decisions and reputation. This is key to them becoming successful and respected leaders.
These leaders are the enablers of high performance, not the blockers. Good team leaders support their teams to perform and develop and thus get the best results possible from their team members.
The best leaders are not self-aggrandising; so their fundamental role is that of serving the people in their team. Remember, internal customer service is also an important concept in a customer-centric culture.
3. Listen to the Voice of the Customer (VOC)
The contact centre is a great place to capture feedback from customers. Using interaction analytics, it is possible to comb through every single customer contact and analyse the trends, problems and opportunities. Acting on this data to proactively resolve issues in the service chain or to meet customer demands will provide higher customer satisfaction and retention rates.
While investment in your ability to listen to the Voice of the Customer will be required, remember it costs 5 times as much to attract a new customer as to keep an existing one.
4. Personalise the customer experience
Customers want to be treated as individuals, not as statistics. They hate it if you don’t know who they are, what the trail of contact is and especially if they have to repeat themselves.
Personalisation is achieved through both the technology platform (telephony system, CRM) and good agent soft skills. To achieve a strong personalisation strategy, a joined-up omni-channel experience should be offered, so no matter whether I tweeted you, called you, sent an email, put a post on your Facebook page or a combination of all of those, you know who I am, what I need and where it’s up to.
Then, as a customer, I expect your agent to flex his or her style to meet mine, so that we have a good rapport and your brand feels like a ‘fit’ for me, and I feel like your number one customer, regardless of the number of customers you serve.
5. Make it easy
Finally, you need to pay attention to how easy it is to do business with you. ‘Customer Effort’ is increasingly being used as a metric and I’m a big fan.
Recently, to get hold of an item I had no fewer than 4 phone calls to make and receive, 6 emails, and 2 failed collections to alert them about the issue and reorganise delivery.
Another company made me make 4 calls, missed an appointment (I had to call them to notify them of their failing and to get a reschedule) and I’m now waiting in suspense to see if the next appointment is kept. The saga has been going on for over a month. Easy it is not.
Of course, easy is also efficient for you. The companies making dramas out of what should have been simple matters are costing themselves dearly in effort too. Making processes efficient and accurate benefits both the organisation and the customer. Honda had it right when they said ‘isn’t it nice when things just work?’
Carolyn Blunt is co-author of Delivering Effective Social Customer Service, available on Amazon.
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