customer experience

Customer for Life – The Second Step - 3/19/19


Two weeks ago, we shared a Customer Service Tip on how to get (and keep!) a Customer for Life. We addressed the First Step, Knowing what you need to know about the other person. Now, we’re sharing the Second Step. To develop a relationship with anyone, there has to Read more

Employee Runs for a Dog Run - 3/12/19


I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step - 3/5/19


This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time. But what’s the Read more

Retrain Your Brain - 2/26/19


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought: Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! - 2/19/19


The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment. Staring at the screen, Read more

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Listen Up! – 5/29/18

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When I was growing up, I would hear the phrase Listen Up frequently. It was usually being stated by adults who wanted to get the attention of a group of kids. It was usually stated loudly. It usually worked. At least for a minute or 2.

As an adult in the working world, I now find myself in customer service situations or advising clients on how to create a great customer experience. And while the phrase Listen Up has not lost its importance, it means something different today. Today, in business it relates to what employees should do with co-workers and customers. It suggests that in order for us to really solve a problem or address a need or resolve an issue, we have to be experts at listening.

So, what do experts at listening do most effectively?

They watch to observe and interpret the body language as much as they do the words. I was in a meeting recently where we were discussing certain individuals in the organization, and we were trying to uncover how they felt about a situation; it turns out that most of our conclusions were being driven by the body language they conveyed in meetings when the topics were discussed.

Experts at listening are experts at asking questions. They start with open-ended questions to let the other person share their issue, need, goal, their story or perspective. Then the listener drills down to specifics with close-ended questions to refine their understanding of the situation and the impact of potential solutions.

Listening experts let the other person talk. It seems obvious to say, but how can you listen if you’re doing all the talking? People who are great at listening let the other person talk 70-80% of the time – hearing the other’s perspective and guiding the conversation with those questions asked.

Great listeners are great at paraphrasing. They’ve listened so well that they can pause the conversation and – in their own words – explain the situation, the steps, the goals, and the desires conveyed by the other person. They can translate the body language, tone, the words and emotions of another.

Keep in mind that great listeners are often considered to be great conversationalists because the discussion flows, and the other person gets to share, feels comfortable doing so, and is speaking with someone who has an empathetic ear.

The art of listening is key to great conversations and great customer service.

Listen Up!

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Change Your Style on the Fly – 5/22/18

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I was talking to a client recently, and we discussed the importance of relationship-building in their position. So I asked, “How do you develop a relationship?”

The client offered several points, one in particular piqued my interest – she said: “I have to understand how I communicate, and I have to be open to communicating differently.”

Essentially, she conveyed that she had to be self-aware, and she had to be willing and able to tweak her communication style to best work with the customer.

Being able to recognize what works with each client, knowing how to change, and being willing to change your style of communication based on the situation or the individual involved is a high-level customer service skill.

You have to know when to slow down your pace of talk based on how the other person prefers to communicate and how well they are understanding what you’re saying. You have to know when to sit or stand, lean-in or sit back based on what makes them more comfortable or builds their confidence.

You have to be willing to pick up a phone and call somebody even though you prefer e-mail, or be willing to meet with someone even though you prefer not to make the drive. Sometimes they want to text even though you have an aversion to doing that in business.

This is not to say we have to change who we are in any way. This is to say that if we want to deliver a great experience and build relationships, we have to understand each unique customer and what about their experience with us builds their comfort and confidence level. And since some of those experiential characteristics are communication-related on our part, we need to make the refinements necessary to build that client relationship.

Learn when and how to change your style on the fly.

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About Adults Behaving Badly and Common Sense – 3/13/18

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I was conducting focus groups at a client site that was known for poor customer service. They were trying to change their culture and turn around their customer experience, but they first wanted to get a sense of the current state of things. This particular focus group had many long-term employees, some of which earned the department’s bad reputation for customer service.

As I probed to get their philosophies and approaches to customer service, I was getting a lot of “blame the customer” talk. To direct a question back to the employee’s responsibility in dealing with difficult customer situations, I asked them specifically what they do when they’re dealing with the complaining customer.

The first response I got was “Be an adult.” I asked the person to clarify, and their response was “Just be an adult. People respect it when you’re an adult.”

While this may be true in general, organizations cannot make the assumption that everybody’s definition of “adult” behavior will result in a well-handled customer complaint. This reminds me of the many times I’ve heard the statement that “customer service is just common sense.”

The problem with those statements is that we’ve all seen adults behaving badly. If you’ve ever been on Twitter or Facebook or just walked down the street for that matter, you’ve seen adults who are not a being respectful, considerate, humble, helpful, or effective in how they communicate with others.

And as much as customer service might be common sense, you and I know that there are plenty of people without common sense. Is it common sense to argue with an irate customer? Is it common sense to stare at your smart phone when the customer is waiting for you? Is it common sense to talk to a co-worker about the party last weekend the whole time that you’re ringing up the customer at the register?

Again, being an adult and having common sense would be good general philosophies for customer service, but not everybody delivering customer service has the same definition of those terms.

If we want everybody on the same page delivering the same great experience, we need a common definition of what we expect. We need to have conversations about what constitutes a good customer experience. We need to understand that to consistently serve the customer requires we specifically and clearly paint the picture of great customer service.

Be clear on what is truly a great customer experience.

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