Customer Experience 101
Customer Experience has been an emerging discipline for more than 10 years. With arms in operations, marketing, digital and market research, CX ensures that customer needs are understood, measured and addressed across the company. While it may sound complicated, customers are actually pretty simple and predictable.
In my 20+ years of analyzing customer data and leading teams, I see a clear pattern in customer feedback. Regardless of the industry or type of customer, I see the same open-ended customer comments again and again. The "Big Three" can be summed up as:
"I expected more from a company like you... but you didn't deliver"
"My product stopped working... stand behind your product and replace it"
"I want to be treated better"
Customers are a lot of things, but they are not complicated. Customers have three basic and simple wishes. If you can operationalize these three customer wishes, you are on your way to being a standout in customer service.
- Deliver what you promised. Customer expectations have never been higher. Empowered by social media platforms that amplify each voice, customers walk in the door knowing what they want and are vocal if they don’t get it. It is important in any customer facing role that we are clear about our product or service offering, and are consistent in how we deliver it. It is also important that we evaluate what we are promising the customer in our marketing collateral and advertising campaigns to be sure we can and do deliver consistently. We need to put “teeth” behind the pretty words we say. Marketing and operational execution must go hand in hand. If we made promises to get the sale, we must follow through.
- Right the wrong. Even the best companies have off days or weak moments. It happens and more often than not, customers are forgiving if you are willing to own it when your product or service fails. The old saying “the customer is always right” still applies today. Customers tend to start from a rational place if something goes wrong with a calm expectation that you will a) fix the issue, b) apologize for the inconvenience and c) thank the customer for giving you the opportunity to correct the error. If you stick to that simple script, you are golden. If you stray from the script, customers get emotional, and things can get ugly.
- Clean house. Customer facing roles require a strong level of emotional labor. When we give customers our all, it can be physically and emotionally taxing at times. Great managers know this, and commit to a culture of engaged, happy employees. It goes without saying that there is a direct correlation between happy employees and satisfied, loyal customers. However, as we know, some employees lack the customer-centric mindset or desire to delight. Despite best efforts, no amount of coaching, carrots or sticks can move them or improve them. Often in my coaching practice, I listen to managers justify why they keep an employee who can "really produce" despite the long paper trail of customer complaints. To be blunt, they need to go. Your customer is counting on you to do the right thing for them, and your brand. And so is the rest of your team.
It is wise to have a customer satisfaction measurement practice in place, regardless of your size of business. It can be as sophisticated as a 365-day continuous tracking survey or as simple as a 5-question comment card by your register. Step one is to ask, but step two is to ACT.
You don't need to be a 20-year market research veteran to discover what customers want. You don't need to be a CX expert to grant customers their wishes. Simply be prepared to do what you say, fix it when things go wrong, and commit to keeping the employees who care about your customer and removing those who don't.
Execute on these three things and you will enjoy a triple benefit: happy customers, appreciative employees and a better bottom line. It really is that simple, and for most businesses, the actions to take are straight forward.
If you aren't sure where to start, you can ask us. :-) Now... are you ready to grant those wishes? Let's go!