Monday, January 23, 2012

The 4 Customer “Must Haves”

Let me state the obvious - customers are very demanding and
extremely tough to satisfy. The best companies are trying to figure
out how to stay one step ahead of the fickle customer. And although
there are many initiatives and “must haves”, however let’s start with
this short list –

1. Deliver the product or service right the first time. Be
consistent. Be reliable. This means looking at processes,
systems and the skills of your people. Getting the basics
right solves most of your issues and can create very loyal
customers. Customers love one contact and no hassles.

2. Make it easy. Multichannel access is a must. You know this
but what you know needs to match the reality of how you are
engaging your customers. Customer’s desire for transparency
is here to stay. They like the access to information and
knowledge of how your company works. The customer
knows how to work the system, you better be connected and
responsive – fast is the operative word.

3. Have fixes ready. Customers want problems fixed fast. It is
likely unhappy customers are on hold with your call centers
while tweeting their dissatisfaction. Have real people ready
with real answers – not scripts. Your representatives are the
voice and ambassador of your company. Use them wisely to
amp up customer loyalty.

4. Give them a reason to return. Customers want a memorable
experience. They will tell others and become your advocate.
With customers becoming so savvy, the world is now your
competition. Customers compare all service experiences not
just ones in your industry. Stop talking about improving the
experience and strengthen the relationship, start doing it.

Your team holds the keys to making the experience one that
creates positive buzz.

Customers are picky, demanding and impatient. Their “must
haves” will drive them to shop around. Make certain your service
will have them stick with you for the long haul.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Customers Deserve Better

When customers call a company, they deserve the best treatment. However,
many organizations continue to abuse their customers with poorly thought out
phone handling. The guilty companies range for the largest to the smallest.
The reality is, most companies do not want the calls. Their desire is for the
customer to check the website first, to engage in live chat
or communicate via social media. Most customers have tried one of those
options and as a last resort pick up the phone. So when the experience is
daunting or down right rude, customers get even more frustrated.

It is time to do a review of what customers go through when calling your
company. I recommend a small team, including a director level person,
to check your roadblocks and make the needed changes.

Here’s where to get started –

1. Act as if you are the customer. Listen closely and experience the call
process. I know you have done this before – do it again.

2. Get rid of the instructions that inform the customer, “Listen carefully
as our menu has changed.” Most of your customers do not call you
often enough to have the menu memorized. We don’t know or care
that it has changed. Just give us the choices, the fewer the better.
Also, give us the one chosen most frequently upfront, like press 1 not 6.
For example, physician’s office are the worst offender of this one –
“to make an appointment press 5”. I don’t think pharmacies call more
often than patients yet that option is always stated before the patient
focused ones.

3. Stop telling the customer, “Your call is very important to us, the next
available representative will be with you soon.” Say it once. The more
you repeat the same script the more it angers the customer and they
will not believe you. Change up the recording – some script, some music,
some information about products and services. And please don’t tell the
customer to go to the website, it is very likely they’ve tried it already and
may even be on it while having to listen to the recording, angrily.

4. Listen to the customer representative scripts. Is it time to let the team
be more respectful and engaging? Customers are exhausted with the
programmed scripts. They do not create a real conversation. The
customer called to speak to a real live person – not one with a script
and limited options. Remember the customer thinks their situation is
unique, so listen well and engage them.

Customers will love you when you hire smarter, train better and coach often.
Your team will love working for you and in an empowered environment.
You will get loyalty from customers and employees. Your phone handling
is part of the customer experience. If the customer has to call you, give them
what they deserve – easy to access real people with real answers.