Customer Loyalty is a gold standard for most businesses. There are numerous ways that you earn (and lose) Customer Loyalty. But one way that anyone can do is one of the most effective ways to create a Customer Experience that keeps them coming back for more.
Pivoting is a technique well-known by the Public Relations industry. It means changing the direction of the conversation to get back to your core message. When it happens in the media, it’s typically when the person on the spot is confronted by an embarrassing issue. An example can be found from a great article on this topic in Inc.com – how a dirty politician can turn a question around to avoid telling the truth or talking about an issue.
When you are in a Customer-facing situation, it’s important to use this technique to handle problems. Let me be clear, however: I am not suggesting you pivot to avoid answering a Customer’s questions or evade telling the truth. But I am suggesting the pivoting technique can prove useful when managing a Customer Experience.
My suggestion is that your pivoting technique for problem resolution in the Customer Experience has two steps:
- Step One: Acknowledgment. Make sure you repeat back to the Customer what you understand the problem to be.
- Step Two: Core Message. This step is your opportunity to remind the Customer what your desired emotional outcome will be for their experience.
For the holidays, I made good use of my Amazon Prime membership. However, one of my orders had issues with my payment method. So I scheduled online to have Customer Service call me back (a great feature, by the way).
The first thing I noticed was that my Customer Service Representative was not from the States (or if he was, he was working on perfecting an accent for an acting role).
This call wasn’t my first about this order, and as the holidays were closing in, I was starting to feel nervous and frustrated the issue wasn’t resolved. However, as a former call center manager and Customer Experience champion, I always behave my best on calls of this nature, so I work to be both patient and pleasant for the representative who gets me on the line.
Despite my best efforts, I must have let a couple of sarcastic quips slip through that belied my true feelings. The call center agent picked up on this and kept saying: “Even though your voice is smiling, I can tell you are feeling frustrated. I don’t want you to feel even more frustrated about this. I want you to know we will do everything in our power to resolve your issue to your satisfaction.”
Now, let me first say that I appreciated that he was concerned about my emotional state. Gold star for that one! However, I thought it was amusing to have this exact phrase repeated three additional time verbatim throughout our call. (I chalked it up to the language barrier.)
Clunky execution or not, it was a great example of pivoting. What my call center rep was telling me is that he knows I am having a problem (acknowledgment) but that he was going to resolve it (core message). I appreciated his understanding of this important issue and it did alleviate some of my testier feelings at the time.
Pivoting is a technique that has been used in Public Relations for a long time. It not only keeps you out of hot water on tough issues in the media, but it also gives you a chance to repeat your core message for the audience. In Customer Experience, it’s an audience of one but pivoting can have a great effect on the experience that audience member has. And it can foster the emotional reinforcement you want to earn the Customer Loyalty you need.