expectation

6 Actions for Attitude Adjustments - 2/18/20


The battle over one’s attitude can feel like a never-ending fight… I need to stop letting little things bother me. I need to not let that customer’s anger infect my mindset.  Just because my co-worker isn’t doing what they said they’d do shouldn’t mean that I should have an attitude Read more

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

The 4 S’s of the Customer Experience – 10/13/15 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


I mentioned in a previous TOW years ago about the 4 S’s of Expectation Management – Key guiding principles to effectively set and manage customer expectations – Simple, Specific, Supporting Documentation, and Summarizing.

But there is another set of 4 S’s – and these are all about the Customer Experience. We worked with a government client last year that had significant customer issues. The customers didn’t – in general – like having to deal with a regulatory and enforcement body, but they really didn’t like it when the regulations were surrounded by a poor customer experience.

So through research including a multitude of customer focus groups, we narrowed down the customers’ preferences for their experience into four guiding principles – The 4 S’s of the Customer Experience:

  • Staffing – Ensure that your staffing mirrors the Customer Volume – by time-of-day, day-of-week, season, etc. You could have the best people, processes, and systems in place, but if you don’t have the staffing levels to handle the volume, the experience will suffer.
  • Solving Issues – When issues and complaints arise, be collaborative across the company’s silos to resolve issues. Be as timely as possible, managing customer expectations when needed. Ensure staff OWN the issue – don’t push the responsibility of researching or fixing issues to the customer, particularly when the problems were caused between staff or departments.
  • Statusing – This one may not have been top-of-mind, but it’s VERY important when service and issue resolution are not immediate. When those fixes take time, be transparent with the information and the issue-resolution process. The more customers understand and see what’s going on to rectify issues or address needs, the more appreciative and understanding they’ll be of the effort. Offer statuses of where their issue/need is in the process, ensuring that the current status is clear, specific, and easily-accessed by the customer. The better they can find and understand the status, the less likely they are to contact you for updates.
  • Simplifying (the Catch-all) – Whether it’s your terminology or systems, make it easy for the customer to do business with you. Avoid the confusion and complexity that lead to long discussions with staff and extra work for your business. When needed, have a single point of contact so they can get to the right person the first time – saving the customer and your company time. Finally, at every communication, be clear on next steps and timeframes.

 
To deliver a great experience, incorporate the 4 S’s.

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Avoid the Overpromise – 9/15/15 TOW

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Bill called tech support to ask about an issue with one of the company websites. After he gave the representative a brief description of the issue, the representative immediately and enthusiastically said “I can DEFINITELY help you with that!” After ten minutes on the phone, it became obvious that the representative couldn’t help and that his statement was merely a script.

The government employee received the building design plans from the architect and told him that the plans would be reviewed in 20 days. It was the first of the month, so the architect thought the plans would be reviewed by the 21st. On the 22nd, having heard nothing about the status of the plan review, the architect called the reviewer.

“No, they’re not ready,” said the reviewer. “I told you 20 days. It took us a couple days of administrative work to get these into review, then it’s 20 business days for review. Then it will take about 2-3 days to get the comments into the system for you to review and respond. So you should be able to review comments by the 5th of next month.”

These are two real-life examples of a company overpromising and a customer being upset with the result. In the website scenario, the employee conveyed hope – which can be good – but he made it sound so definitive that he set unrealistic expectations based on a brief understanding of the issue before knowing the true cause of the problem.

In the second case, the overpromise was due to communication issues. The statement “20 days” – while it seems straightforward – can mean two different things to two different people. There was no clarification of what that meant. If the employee said “the 5th of next month” from the start, there would have been no risk of overpromise.

When working with customers, convey hope if you think you can help, but temper it with a dose of realism. And when setting expectations for timeframes, be clear on what will happen and by when.

Don’t create the irate customer. Avoid the Overpromise.

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Be Boring but Better – Become Predictable – 8/18/15 TOW

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I was recently watching reruns of on old sitcom where a woman was attracted to a man she was dating – in part – because he was so unpredictable. What was he going to say next? What was the next exciting thing he’d come up with for date night?!

But excitement in customer service is not always the best goal, especially if that excitement is a result of something unpredictable happening.

I’ve facilitated enough customer focus groups and read enough customer comments to know one thing about customer service – sometimes being boring is vital to customer service, and what’s more boring (but good!) than being predictable?

Remember that 40% of customer dissatisfaction is because the customer didn’t receive what they expected – the company overpromised or didn’t even do the bare minimum of what the customer expected. So you can eliminate the cause of a lot of dissatisfaction by doing what’s expected. Consider these boring-but-better predictable actions to boost your customer service:

  • Instead of providing a wide window of time for a callback or site visit, give a narrow arrival window to set the expectation; then meet that expectation.
  • ALWAYS respond to e-mails sent directly to you, even if all you say is “Thanks for the e-mail; I’ll review and reply back by X date – Please let me know if you need it sooner.” Become responsively predictable!
  • Know what the company does to set expectations via letters, e-mails, marketing programs, sales offers, and web pages. Often companies note who will do what, in what timeframe, and in what way. To be predictable, we have to know what the customer expects based on these company proclamations.
  • Document what you tell customers you’ll do and by when (do so on paper, in a follow-up e-mail, etc.); then do what you stated you’d do.
  • If there are personal or corporate hours of operations, be clear on what they are so the customer knows your availability.
  • Find a best practice process, and adhere to it; standard processes offer more predictable outcomes and timeframes than “everybody doing it their own way.”

 
Find ways to make your reality match the customer’s expectations.

Make “boring” a competitive advantage – become predictable with your customer service.

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