5 Ways to Show Your Customers Loveby Justin Robbins |
She loves me; she loves not. She loves me; she loves me not.
Has interacting with a brand made you feel like you were picking flower petals or in a tug-of-war battle over whether or not they cared about you? The broken promises, the moments of surprise and delight, the unreturned messages. The more I think about it, the more I believe the typical customer experience feels like a love rollercoaster.
That’s not a good thing.
We define our best and most valued personal relationships by consistency, honesty, vulnerability, and accountability. When applied to business, those same attributes can help leaders understand how to form stronger relationships with their customers. So, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’m looking at five ways for businesses to demonstrate to their customers that they care (and, dare I even say, love) having the opportunity to serve them.
Excellent customer service isn’t complicated - it’s consistent.
Make no mistakes; customers' interactions with our businesses are more complex than ever. And understanding and delivering fantastic customer experiences is difficult at a macro level. But not in the moment-by-moment interactions. It’s there that you can drive change and show your customers love. When you do that consistently, you establish your business as a brand that customers can trust.
Here are five ways to consistently care for your customers.
Use clear language
When communicating with customers, using clear language is vital. Think about it - you want to ensure your message is understood, right? Clear phrasing can help prevent confusion and show you care about your customers' understanding of your product or service. Whether you're explaining a complicated concept or providing simple instructions, clear language ensures customers can follow along and feel confident in their interactions with your company.
If this is a topic that your team struggles with, you can learn more from one of my favorite people on the planet, Leslie O’Flahavan. She’s a plain language advocate and customer service expert. Through her business E-Write, she helps customer care professionals write better emails, chat, social media, and text.
Collect and act on feedback
Have you ever given feedback to a brand, only to feel like it went into a black hole? We've all been there. But when a brand collects and acts on customer feedback, it can make a difference. By soliciting customer feedback, you can learn what's working and what's not and make changes that show you’re listening to your customers. And when you take action based on that feedback, you demonstrate how you genuinely care about your customers' experiences. It can be as simple as fixing a bug on your website or improving a product feature - small changes can significantly impact your customers. It is as easy as that - don't forget to listen to your customers and take action. It's a simple way to show that you care, which can go a long way toward building customer loyalty and trust.
Respect people’s time
I’ll speak for myself for a moment, but one of my biggest peeves is the feeling that a brand is wasting my time. Whether it’s a long hold, a manual process, a delayed response, or not offering a self-service option, very few things frustrate me more than unwanted time wasted. As it turns out, I’m far from being alone on this one. We all want our time to be respected, so what causes us to disrespect our customers' time?
There are many contributing factors to a customer's perception of whether or not their time spent on something was worth it, and there are a few things we can do to influence this positively.
- Identify and proactively meet needs. Rather than our customers coming to us once something goes wrong, we prevent it from happening or identify the issue before they do. Easier said than done (I know), but brands are increasingly able and moving in this direction.
- Measure and address forecast inaccuracies. If your customers are experiencing long wait times, your volume or staffing projections are off. Often, it’s a combination of both. An effective workforce management discipline enables you to measure, analyze, and address these challenges.
- Use automation and self-service strategically. Your customers often want to help themselves and get frustrated when these solutions fail to meet their needs. The root cause is typically a poor deployment rather than a technical shortcoming. It’s best to use these capabilities to augment live-agent support channels and remember to test their effectiveness continuously.
- Use hold times productively. Rather than forcing your customers to listen to Burt Bacharach (RIP) muzak, you could leverage the time to capture customer information that will benefit their live agent interaction. Not only will this reduce their perception of the hold time, but it will also equip the person supporting them with information that will expedite the live interaction. These virtual agents can increase customer satisfaction while reducing average handle times and the associated costs!
- Empower your employees. How often does a process get in the way of employees having the authority to address customer needs effectively? Whether it’s an authorization for a refund, navigating disparate systems, or hunting down a knowledge article, there are many ways that we prevent or complicate our employees from effectively serving their customers. The more we understand and address these barriers to empowerment, the more we’ll see our customer (and employee) satisfaction rise.
Identify and reduce friction points
Nate Brown, the co-founder of CX Accelerator, calls all customer experience professionals to assemble as “Friction Fighters.” In his words, it’s a daily effort to identify, address, and prevent friction points throughout the customer experience. The customer journey has many friction points; the more we can find and fix them, the better our customer relationships will be. Friction fighting could come from implementing a voice of the customer program, holding collaborative experience design sessions, and embodying a leadership style that’s willing to take ownership, build relationships, and encourage others.
Keep your promises
We’re most let down when someone breaks a promise in love, life, and customer service. In our personal relationships, it’s usually the same person who makes a promise and then breaks it. In business, it’s a bit more complicated than that. The marketing department might make a promise that goes unfulfilled by the product or service, and then the customer service team is left to do damage control. Or, one representative promises to follow up and then ghosts the customer. The examples are endless. If we want to show our customers love, we need to understand the promises we break and why they happen.
I challenged conference attendees with the Promise Keepers Challenge a few years ago. It’s a year-long commitment to track the promises kept and broken by their brand. The Promise Keepers Challenge serves as a root cause exercise that asks a series of questions after an interaction is complete:
- What promise did we make to the customer before contacting the business?
- How did we fail to keep that promise?
- Have we broken this promise in the past? How often? And why?
- Do we know what caused us to break the promise this time? If not, where could we go to find out?
- How could we prevent ourselves from breaking this promise again?
- What would be the impact of keeping this promise in the future?
When put into practice, these questions provide exceptional insight into ways to improve the customer experience and help quantify the value of improving customer interactions. The promise keepers challenge is a great place to start if you’re looking to uncover how you put your customers through the relationship ringer.
What ideas do you have for showing your customers that your business truly cares? Let me know by tagging UJET on LinkedIn or Twitter!
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