Do you remember the last time you had an unpleasant experience as a consumer? These experiences are not easily forgotten amongst most consumers. They are in fact the ones that tend to stick out in our minds the most, and even lead to being shared. One thing that each negative customer experience has in common is that they stem from receiving poor customer service.
We interviewed our Director of Customer Experience, Katie Fleck, to understand how she places emphasis on the customer experience throughout our organization. In Katie’s role, her sole priority is to analyze our processes that affect the overall customer experience. She works to ensure that no matter what customer interaction is occurring (for example, delivering a new machine, invoicing a customer, placing a service request, etc.) the experience that we provide is always at the forefront of our employees’ minds. Her experience has been that:
Most organizations treat customer service as a reactive approach, overlooking the overall experience. By placing focus on the customer experience, we are using a proactive approach to take better care for our customers.
Katie started off by explaining that she believes companies need to focus on making it easy for customers to do business with them. This means going above and beyond the traditional customer service expectations. Traditionally customer service focuses on what is expected. Katie considers this to be, “just doing the minimum by only handling the specific request”. On the other hand, to provide an excellent customer experience would make the customer feel they were truly cared for, listened to, and taken care of. Katie explained there are four key characteristics to consider when building a great customer experience.
- Attitude – having a customer-focused mentality is critical
No matter the request the Customer Care Representative should always put themselves in the consumer’s position to grasp a full understanding of what the consumer is looking to accomplish
- A sense of urgency – treat every customer situation as one that needs to be taken care of NOW
Consumers today expect everything and anything on demand, with an expectation of immediate gratification. Customer service organizations thus have to find ways to alter their processes to meet these expectations
- Relationship focused
When a Customer Care Representative is focused on finding a way to connect with the person they are speaking to, they immediately begin building a relationship during each interaction; this automatically has a direct impact on the customer’s experience
- Action Oriented
Instead of focusing on what your company isn’t able to do regarding a specific request from a customer it is important to first be transparent and then offer an alternate solution. Nobody wants to hear the word “no” or “this cannot be done”
Providing excellent customer experiences has become one of the easiest and most cost-effective forms of marketing. It is true that a disgruntled customer is more likely to share their story with others, but happy and satisfied customers are the ones who will refer you to others. The experience we create for our customers is the building block for the stories and brand consumers associate our company with.
A great example of this is Mercedes:
Katie says she puts a lot of focus on flexibility when discussing with her team how to best create an excellent customer experience. The reason for this emphasis on flexibility is to eliminate the idea that there are set policies when handling customer situations. By reducing flexibility and focusing on strict policies we are forgetting the cardinal rule of “making it easy to do business with us”. Katie stated: “by exercising flexibility it gives our Customer Care Representatives a chance to be creative and think outside of the box to solve customer problems,” some best practices she gave me of this were:
- Consistent use of over communication
- Having a “don’t say no” mentality towards customer requests
- Choosing the right people for the role – placing a focus on the four characteristics discussed above
- Displaying empathy for the customer’s concerns
- Measuring specific metrics related to customer satisfaction, such as call wait times, the timeframe of problem resolution, and frequency of communication with clientele
Customer service is traditional. Most organizations have a department for it, but if you want results it is time to stop being reactive and start being proactive. Care for your customers – the excellent way, by placing focus on building the customer experience.