Jan. 11, 2017 - The late great poet Maya Angelou said it best: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Why haven’t most customer-facing companies figured this out?
There is nothing more frustrating than feeling like your business isn’t valued and better yet, feeling like WE aren’t valued as individuals anymore. Our society has lost touch with interpersonal skills. The next time you’re waiting in line somewhere or you’re in an area with a crowd of people, stop for a moment and look at the culture around you. Individuals aren’t talking anymore. They are buried in their mobile devices, laptops and tablets, and they are communicating through way of the digital era. Nobody writes hand-written notes anymore (most schools have omitted cursive writing from their curriculum) and a simple hello to a stranger can sometimes garner a look like you’re on another planet. We’ve become immune to the fact that if we call a customer service line we lower our expectations by automatically thinking we’ll be speaking with a computerized voice as opposed to an actual human being.
One thing remains universal: Humans have emotions and when they are tapped into the right way, people will always remember the experience that made them feel that way and they’ll continue to be loyal customers. One company who has mastered the magic of customer service is Zappos, the online shoe retailer. Tony Hsieh, Founder and CEO of Zappos has established a core culture that is founded on believing that outstanding customer service is a great marketing tool to boost business. Some examples are: Offering customers 2-way free shipping and up to a year to return their items, hiring 24/7 phone reps who are upbeat and kind at all times (one even helped a customer order pizza to their home online) and paying employees to quit because Zappos wants employees to be 100% committed to their customers vs. just showing up for a paycheck. Customers love the experience and the high-touch customer service they receive and keep coming back for more which has attributed to the company’s growth and success year over year.
So where do companies go wrong? It’s not a matter of cost savings initiatives, it’s a matter of investing in the right people. Take the hospitality or corporate event management industry, for example. A hotel chain can invest in training employees on the tactical components (how to work the hotel check-in system, how to mix a proper drink, etc.) but if they don’t invest in training employees on the customer experience, it’s a total waste of time and money.
Customer Service Blunders That Can Make or Break your Business
1.) The “That’s not my department” answer. There is nothing more frustrating than being transferred multiple times on the phone when you’re talking to customer service. One transfer is one too many and is guaranteed to increase customer tensions, especially if they’ve been on hold for several minutes.
2.) Saying, “I’m sorry, we can’t do that” or “I don’t know.” A customer doesn’t like to feel defeated. They want answers and they will not feel valued if they are left to figure out the solution to a problem or an answer to a question they are looking for an employee to solve or answer. Remember, customer service reps are ambassadors to the company they are representing. If they don’t offer solutions or answers the customer loses a sense of trust with that company and ultimately loses their loyalty and even worse, their business.
3.) Unresponsiveness or a delay in responding: When a customer writes or emails a letter of complaint, the turnaround time to respond is key as to whether or not a company can retain the customer’s loyalty. Social media complaints are a perfect example. If you do not have a social media response team set up to address every customer comment, then your company shouldn’t have a social media presence at all. In this digital day and age individuals want instant gratification and instant results and if you don’t provide one or the other chances are your reputation over social media will be destroyed. This digital marketing medium can be a great, low-cost platform to leverage your brand in a positive light, ultimately resulting in an increase in sales.
4.) Trying to win an argument with a customer: Don’t even go there. This is a no-win situation and trying to prove your point will cause the loss of a customer and ultimately revenue for your company. Remember: It takes five times more effort and cost to gain a new customer than it does to maintain a current one.
5.) Sending generic or “canned” responses: This is probably the best way to make a customer feel like they’re being thrown into the masses. If you are a small business, try to take the time to personally hand-write a note and mail it to the individual. The art of personalized notes has gone by the wayside and is a lost art. To touch, see and feel a personalized hand-written note means that a business took the time and effort to show that they individually mattered. If you want to increase the odds of having a customer for life, personalizing the customer touch speaks (or in this case writes) volumes.
6.) Failing to define your company’s culture: If you do not set a standard for how you treat your employees then how do you expect your employees to consistently deliver great customer service? Defining culture means sharing beliefs, standards and behaviors that represent the company’s best self. By adhering to these standards employees work towards a cohesive goal which results in consistent results, especially when it comes to delivering the best in customer service. The very best companies have given a lot of thought and energy into developing their culture. The very best entrepreneurs not only create products and services, but companies as well. And companies embody culture, which isn’t to be taken lightly if your company wants to succeed.