Improve Customer Service … 8 Secrets to a Positive Strategy
The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well. A secret? No, not really. Small things? Yes, certainly. Sometimes small actions or even inactions by a business can have the ability to improve customer service. And it is usually due to a lack of an explicit consumer experience 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 small perceived problems. Is a lack of a customer experience strategy costing your company customers? Do you know the answer? It is not rocket science, is it? It is a key secret to your success, however.
Before we continue, let me ask you a question.
What works best for customer experience design in your business? We would love to hear what it was. Would you do us a favor and post it in the comments section below? It would be greatly appreciated by our readers and us.
With the advent of the Internet, the number of marketing options available to both budding and experienced entrepreneurs has become staggering.
The truth is, it usually takes significantly more time and energy to find new customers than it does to lose them. So you can be sure a strategy to build a positive customer experience can pay off when done well. All the marketing in the world cannot make up the damage when it is done poorly or ignored.
Customers today interact with businesses in many different ways, leading to numerous touch points and tremendous opportunities for positively influencing their customer experience. If one considers the hundreds of interactions each client has throughout his/her life cycle with a company, how do you define a client experience to focus their limited resources? Here are some priorities to consider:
Set Customer Segment Targets
Always start by asking: For which segments? Although this may sound obvious, when striving to improve customer experience, it is critical to define the segments in the marketplace that you want your business to focus on.
Map the Consumer Experience Steps
Define the steps of the consumer journey. Remember to think of the entire trip, not just the steps your company is involved in. For example, for the home movie entertainment businesses, these steps would be: define the occasion, select a title, get, watch, and return the film. Mapping these steps for each of your priority segments is important. Also necessary for each step of the journey is to understand the time spent, the activities performed, the criteria used to make a decision and move to the next phase of the journey. And finally defining how to make each step as short and easy as possible.
Define the categories of influencers at each step of the journey. Touch points are opportunities to intersect with and influence the customer experience. In the home entertainment example, the influencers would be self, retailers, external resources, friends, family members, and movie studios. Remember that the activities performed by a consumer fit at the intersection of an influencer with each step of the journey. For example, a customer may go to Netflix and view recommendations and retailers would be the influencer. In this example, providing online recommendations that are trusted would be the touch-point. For each priority segment, understanding the relative importance of various influencers by steps of the consumer journey is the key to success.
Customer service tips … experiment with collaboration
An efficient way of ensuring that experiences meet customers’ needs is to bring customers and frontline employees into the design process through collaboration. And yes, in our opinion many customers would welcome this approach. When they are face-to-face with a design team, customers can provide valuable input, including firsthand accounts of what they want seeds of ideas to build upon, and feedback for real-time prototyping. In a single-day workshop, the Fidelity Charitable team gave employees just one hour to create pen-and-paper prototypes for ideas that they thought would fill a particular donor need. Customers then joined the group for a mocked-up fundraising cocktail party that enabled them to test out the prototypes in a realistic setting. Through this process, the Fidelity Charitable team got multiple rounds of feedback that focused its work on the most valuable solutions. Intuit has likewise embraced a hybrid of design thinking and “lean startup” to do rapid experimentation and prototyping across the organization
Types of customer service … align customer facing employees
The quality of customer experience depends on a complex interdependent set of employees, partners, processes, policies, and technology. Firms like USAA, Apple, Zappos, and Starwood Hotels are companies that do an excellent job of orchestrating across their enterprise. USAA has identified approximately 100 important experiences associated with customer business engagements like buying a car or preparing to deploy abroad, all of which have owners and cross-functional teams responsible for detailed customer processes. For one of those car buying experiences, the company manages auto dealership relationships on behalf of clients, understanding that customer hesitation haggling with dealers for pricing slows its ability to provide loans and sell insurance.
Act on customer signals
Your client insights are essential to this effort. We’re not talking just satisfaction surveys—good customer understanding doesn’t come just from spreadsheets and data crunching. Instead, we’re talking about consumer sentiments and needs through detailed customer observation, listening and relationship building. Social skills that identifies and shares unspoken or latent needs. A process of gaining useful insights and then acting on them. Experimenting at first and then full ahead. Having a governance mechanism to work on ideas is critical…otherwise, there will be no positive change.
Improve customer service … activate improvements
Now for the most important touch points, you could generate ideas for improvement. In the example above, an activation idea could be to develop a studio agnostic website that incents consumers to state their preferences, tracks their viewership, and accordingly makes highly relevant recommendations for what to watch next.
After you have implemented this framework for the first time, it will yield recommendations for what data to collect and at which critical touch points, and what types of analyses and metrics are needed to improve the customer experience.
Improve customer service … final customer experience example
Want to know one of the most efficient ways Zappos has found to create reciprocity with their clients? And create customer experience differentiation at the same time?
People like getting things for free and like them, even more, when they are viewed as “favors,” but they love receiving these favors as surprises.
For instance, did you know that Zappos automatically upgrades all purchases to priority shipping … without so much as even a mention of the sales or checkout page?
Why offer this sort of benefit without mentioning it?
Pure: A company like Zappos, a business leader in customer service, recognizes the benefits of surprising people with a next day delivery. That’s not even mentioning the fact that this shipping creates immense goodwill between Zappos and their first-time buyers.
That kind of reciprocity is justified by almost any cost, and the hit Zappos takes by doing this is paid back multiple times over by the customer loyalty they generate from making people happy.
Companies that are proactively managing all elements of their customer experiences are most successful in achieving customer loyalty.
Remember, customers create the most value for you … when you create the most value for them.
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