Is a lack of your best voice of customer strategy costing your company customers? Do you know the answer?
Check out our thoughts on customer focus.
It is pardonable to be defeated, but never to be surprised.
Frederick the Great
Voice of customer strategy
Companies lose customers for a variety of reasons, some of which they never discover. Sometimes customers walk away after a single unpleasant experience. Other times they’re frustrated by a series of perceived problems. The truth is, it usually takes significantly more time and energy to find new customers than it does to lose them.
Voice of customer examples
As a ski buff, I’m fortunate to live in an area where there are several small ski resorts located less than an hour’s drive. What makes this especially nice for me is that I can take a few runs on a late afternoon or weekend and not make a large time commitment. I buy passes by packages in advance to avoid ticket lines. Just park the car, put on my gear, and hit the slopes.
A positive customer experience for me is based on minimal wasted time in getting to the slope. I am sure I am not the only customer with this experience goal.
This is a story of a ski resort not anticipating customer needs and experience goals. The negative experiences could have easily been prevented.
Over the last Christmas holidays, I made plans to visit one of the local resorts. I had just enough time that afternoon to make maybe 6 runs. After taking one run, I got in line for another lift and as I did, an attendant asked where my ‘park pass’ was. I didn’t know what he was referring to. He then informed me that it was a new safety requirement … all skiers were required to take a 10 question test on ski/snowboard safety via computer to obtain the ‘park passes.
The thought of a new emphasis on skier safety was a positive experience and well supported. How it was implemented resulted in a very negative experience for me and other customers as we were not informed of the requirement and lost considerable time to have to leave the slope to return to take the test. With a little thought of customer needs, the resort could have created a positive communication plan and perhaps even developed the course to be taken on-line at home.
Voice of the customer program … best practices
Companies that are proactively about managing all elements of their customer experiences (at all touch points) are most successful in achieving customer loyalty. This resort only got part way to this goal, and as a result, ends up losing the customer experience they desired.
Let’s take another example, this one coming from Fred Reichheld, a Fellow at the management consultancy firm Bain & Company:
Another one of my favorite examples of this happened at Rackspace, the managed hosting and cloud computing company. An employee on the phone with a customer during a marathon troubleshooting session heard the customer tell someone in the background that they were getting hungry.
As the employee tells it:
“So I put them on hold, and I ordered them a pizza. About 30 minutes later, we were still on the phone, and there was a knock on their door. I told them to go answer it because it was pizza! They were so excited.”
PF CHANG’S RESTAURANT
My wife and I stopped by our local P.F. Chang’s Restaurant for lunch last month. It was a beautiful Florida spring day and since it was mid-week the restaurant wasn’t too busy, so we decided to sit on the patio. However, when we asked the hostess to be seated outside we were told that it would be 15-20 minutes before we could be seated. However we could be seated immediately if we wanted to sit inside.
When I asked why we couldn’t be seated immediately … since about half the tables were open, we were told that there wasn’t enough staff scheduled on the patio to serve more tables.
Clearly this service staff did not have the decision making authority for creating good customer experiences!
Related post: 10 Ways to Employ Customer Experience for Influence
If there were enough staff in the restaurant to serve the total number of customers, then why couldn’t they simply reallocate some of the inside staff to serve outside on the patio?
If the hostess was delegated the decision making authority to take initiate to make every customer experience a good to great one, then perhaps this might have resulted differently?
While the cost of the gifts/actions is quite small, the human mind simply cannot refuse the construct of simple reciprocity. Reciprocity can be summed up as our natural inclination to feel grateful for favors and our desire to “pay them back,” no matter how small they are.
The other thing that we consider about reciprocity is that research has shown us that the intentions of the ‘giver’ can affect the perceived value of the gift. This is why random acts of kindness ideas work so well:
Customers perceive the service as a genuine act of kindness rather than as you trying to buy their affection with costly gifts.
So remember, it doesn’t take huge expenses to win customers over!
You can’t over prepare on continually improving your customers experiences.
Remember, customers create the most value for you … when you create the most value for them.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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