Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Customers Keep Saying the Same Thing. Are you listening?

There is plenty of great research on why customer service should be a
differentiating strategy for organizations. Given that my business is helping
companies improve their customer service experience, I love the statistics. Customers for years have been telling us how they want real customer service that stands out.

Here are some recent numbers and my thoughts –

1. American Express found that in the US, customers will spend 9% more with
companies that provide great customer service.

Think how 9% could change your long term bottom line profits. Customers do not want to “shop around”. It is easier to stay put. Give them a reason to be loyal and spend more with you.

2. In the 2010 Customer Experience Impact Report commissioned by RightNow Technologies, a full 85% of customers say they are willing to pay more than the standard price to ensure a superior customer experience. The details range from 76% saying they would pay 5% more to 10% willing to pay a up to a 25% premium.

Does your customers' experience differentiate your company enough? Too many organizations promise an experience yet the reality does not match. Companies spend millions on advertising, marketing and brand building. However their processes and people do not deliver. Take time to do your own reality check.

Remember a customer will pay more for a superior service experience. And a retained customer is a more profitable one.

3. In the RightNow research, 66% of customers said they would be encouraged to spend more if there was improved service.

You know the old saying, “It is easy to get a customer once, keeping the customer is the hard part”. If you attracted the customer once, make certain you turn them into an advocate of your incredible service. Word of mouth remains the most powerful tool to affect buying decisions. Improve your customer service starting now. Talk it, coach it and practice it everyday.

4. Research by RightNow confirmed what we already know. Seventy three percent stopped doing business with an organization due to rude staff, 51% due to ill-trained staff and 55% because issues were not resolved in a timely

None of us are perfect but look at the research – not being nice, not being
knowledgeable and not being timely drive away your customers.
You know this.
Fortunately, these three are fixable – hire it, train it, coach it, expect it, reward it and be the role model for it.

Start now. Your customers deserve great customer service experiences and your bottom line will benefit.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Get Your Service On Board

By now, I bet you are familiar with the recent incident with Delta Airlines and the returning soldiers. Just in case it has not been on your radar, here is the scoop - This group of United States soldiers returning from Afghanistan needed to check bags from Baltimore to Atlanta. Delta’s policy allows 3 bags to be checked free when flying in economy and any additional would be $200 per bag. The soldiers were not aware of the charge and were not very happy when told of the additional expense - $2800 total for the entire group.

The incident involved an inflexible employee. One of the soldiers decided to tape the encounter and then post it to YouTube. (Does United and the broken guitar sound familiar here?) You can imagine the outcry that followed from the public. Don’t mess with our soldiers!

Delta responded with a change in the policy that now allows 4 bags to be checked free and have promised to “make the soldiers whole”. Delta responded quickly and appropriately. However, would it have been better to never have this incident occur? In the world of customer service, recovery is a key strategy to recoup customer loyalty. This is not the type of publicity any organization wants regardless of the recovery efforts. Millions of people know this story and have the chance to react and form an opinion about Delta.

Here is the lesson for you –

1. Check your policies and discuss what makes sense.
2. How empowered are your employees when faced with these situations?
3. What discussions do you have around issues such as these? Talk about sticky situations at team meetings, in training classes and one on one coaching.
4. Do you have guidelines in place for “exceptions”?
5. Are employees fearful of punishment when using their best judgment in similar challenging incidents?

Customer service must be thoughtful, appropriate and well intentioned. Get your team and policies on board.

To read one of the many articles -