Get More Customers-Centric Company: Five Steps to Become One Improve Customer Centricity

Your instinct to look for ways to improve customer service is what you should do when you start your journey to becoming a customer-centric company.

Problem is, “all” is synonymous with improvement. So when I begin a customer-centricity initiative or customer experience improvement program with clients, I recommend they limit their scope. A similar approach is to keep your initial focus on five key areas. Each of these has significant upsides once they are addressed.

1. 1.What are the obstacles that customers face in enjoying your products, services, or business model? These are best discovered by living the customer experience as much as possible. Try your webforms to reach out to your company and get their response. I’m willing to bet they won’t or that they aren’t able to assist with making a purchase decision. Is there a barrier to your voice jail being heard? Are there physical barriers to getting in your building? This principle is called “park where customers park”.

You can use technology to accomplish the job, depending on how large your business is. Callminer’s Eureka technology allows you to capture all conversations with customers and turn them into text. This can then be analyzed for potential hazards and opportunities. [An alternative resource: A whitepaper is available on “10 Elements for Great Customer Service Cultures” that outlines the components that make a great customer service culture.

2How to handle customer conflict and disappointment. What you do to deal with customer disappointment and conflict?While many organizations can handle good times, they struggle with angry, frustrated customers. Every customer-centered company is committed to implementing a service recovery plan that can be used by employees.BeforeThey are confronted (or phoned) by an unhappy customer.

Marriott’s service recovery framework spells LEARN; Starbucks’ memorably spells LATTE, and the service recovery framework on which I train my clients spells MAMA (and comes with my promise that if you diligently learn the MAMA method ahead of time, the next time they’re working with an upset customer they won’t feel tempted to fall on the floor in a fetal position and call out, “Mama, help me!”) [Resource for readers: if you’d like a free copy of the MAMA customer service recovery framework, email me at [email protected] and I’ll send it right away.]

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Readers can view this video resource: Customer Service Training using the MAMA Method of Service Recovery (working to upset customers).

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3. 3. Your customer service style and the language you useThe small details that are often overlooked, such as how customers respond to lighting, fragrances and fontography, give customers the impression that they have “their” brand.

Language is the most important part of success. It’s important to think about the language you use in your business. This includes what your employees, signs, email messages, voicemails and web-based autoresponders say to customers.

A brand’s ability to communicate with customers in a way that is consistent and appropriate for the brand will not be complete. When I consult with organizations to improve customer centricity and service, I recommend that we work together on creating a consistent, comfortable style for speaking with customers.

It won’t be possible to create a consistent and distinctive service voice for all employees. Social engineering, which is the systematic training and development of employees, will be necessary. For example, imagine that you have selected 10 promising salespeople to work in your high-end jewel boutique. They have been given uniforms, stylish haircuts, and you encouraged them to be your brand’s Mr. and Ms. Cartiers from the beginning. They will still communicate with customers in the same way that they do in their homes, unless you have trained them to speak a different language.

Happily, “engineering” a company’s style of speech can lead to a collaborative, positive experience. This is a good opportunity to not put anyone down or make any concessions. It becomes an obstacle, but not a problem, when everyone in the organization is able to understand why there are language guidelines. It is rewarding to see the positive customer reaction and share the mission pride. It can also be very easy to sell it company-wide.

4. You’re already getting particular touchpoints right.You may be offering your customer something that is valuable, but not tangible, such as personal recognition or reassurance or even “wow” at times you don’t realize. It’s vital to be aware of these interactions so that they are not overlooked when you create the next product cycle, or when we redesign our processes. One example is Jackie, your veteran receptionist. Although she may know something about everyone who calls in, it might seem like an “inefficiency” and expense to you. Before replacing “Jackie”, a customer touchstone, with an IVR, think twice to three times.

5. 5.It is important to determine if your customers can’t find the information they require within your product/process selections.

You should also look out for attractive options that are not obvious or prominent to prospects and customers, but which are hidden by website design and/or insider jargon.

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