Recent studies reveal that 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience.
Easy, I hear you say? Here’s the thing; only 26% of companies have a well-developed strategy in place for improving their customer experience.
So what exactly do we mean by this new buzz word ‘the customer experience’?
The ‘customer experience’ is the sum of all the experiences that a client has with you, over the duration of their relationship with you. It involves every touch point in every level of your organisation, from how user friendly your website is to navigate, to how the telephone land line and company mobiles are answered, whether messages are returned in a timely manner by management, how back office people answer phones, the manner is which the customer is followed up by accounts receivable, and so it goes on.
Your customer experience is made up of many moments of truth.
The phrase Moment of Truth was coined in 1984 by Jan Carlzon, CEO of Scandinavian Air Services, who defined it as any moment that a client comes into contact with your organisation and receives an impression of your standard of service.
There could be hundreds or even thousands of moments of truth in the lifetime of your customers.
I’m sure you can relate the following story that demonstrates some crucial moments of truth (MOT) that I recently experienced.
MOT #1 My credit card company has been amazing and I have often complimented them on their superior service in the 10 years I have been a customer.
Recently though they made an error that was causing immense inconvenience to me so I called them, feeling fairly positive based on my previous experiences.
MOT #2 I was answered promptly as usual, but once the agent heard what the issue was, she had to transfer me to someone else. She reassured me though that she would explain it all to the next person to save me time. Looking good…or so I thought! When the next agent answered, the information had been miscommunicated and she was on a completely different tangent. I had to explain all over again.
MOT #4 By the time my story was fully understood by the agent, I noticed 30 minutes of my valuable time had elapsed.
MOT #5 The agent lacked the authority to resolve the issue and became quite defensive. I had to eventually ask to speak with a team leader. After another 10 minutes on hold, the team leader appeared on the line.
MOT #6 The team leader was equally as defensive and seemed to be more concerned about complying with company procedures, than finding a solution. Before he could resolve my issue, he would have to start an investigation into whether the error was the mistake of the company or the officer involved. Same thing, I protested. The officer was representing the company so regardless of where the error lay, I needed to get this resolved now!
MOT #7 He promised to call me back that day. He didn’t.
MOT #8 It was Friday before a long weekend so now I would have to wait until Monday for any action.
In Summary, this call that lasted almost an hour, during which time I experienced eight moments of truth. My experience was made up of only one positive moment of truth and seven negative. Studies show that it takes twelve positive service experiences to make up for one negative experience! Oh how their reputation is starting to diminish in my estimation. I might now start looking at all those offers I receive from their competitors in the mail a little more closely.
So that each and every moment of truth at every touch point in your organization is positive, here are my 7 keys to consistency in managing your customer experience and creating the WOW factor.
1. How are your telephones being answered? This crucial area needs to be addressed across the organisation so that your customers experience consistency every time they call. Trust is the new currency and consistency conveys trust.
2. How are you meeting and greeting your customers? Have a standard procedure of making eye contact with a smile whenever you are within one metre of a customer. For example, a visitor is waiting in the reception for an appointment and you walk past them. Acknowledge them with a smile and a cheery hello.
3. Are you showing recognition to your repeat customers? Show your loyal customers that you value them by using their name when they call or visit and offer loyalty incentives. Marketing studies reveal that it will cost you up to 20 times more to attract a new customer than it will to keep an existing one. Don’t be like the organisations that continually advertise with incentives for new customers. Look after the ones you already have and they will look after you.
4. How are you managing complaints? Are you treating a complaint as an opportunity or an inconvenience? Don’t leave this crucial area to chance and ensure all your people are trained in managing complaints. This includes social media interaction with your customers. Studies done in 2012 revealed that 27% of Aussies complain online instead of by phone, letter or email.
5. Is your website easy to use? Make it easy for your customers to navigate and find what they need before they give up and find your competitor online.
6. Do you have a documented customer service procedure? This is a ‘must have’ document for every person in your organisation to understand what is expected and how they can work together to achieve a superior customer experience. It should include your policy for voice mail use, returning messages, complaint handling and scripts for common types of calls. This document will create confidence and consistency within your organisation as well as a yard stick for staff assessments.
7. Hire a specially trained consultant to conduct a customer experience audit within your organisation to make sure there are no leaks in the system. Understand the value of word of mouth and how much negative word of mouth can cost you. You may not know how many customers have defected to your competitors because 96% of them don’t tell you.