When we talk about a creating a positive customer experience we refer to the technology, processes and people that are required in order help our customers achieve their goals. We need to address all three in order to ensure that customers walk away with their mission accomplished and a good overall feeling about doing business with us. In a world of self-service, what is often forgotten is the importance of people. It’s the human element that closes the deal and leads to customer loyalty. The customer experience is comprised of many pieces and what follows are 5 things every customer wants, but doesn’t always get when they interact with you and your small business.
Optimism. This is possessing the attitude that we are going to solve this issue together, no excuses, no matter what. Customers need to get this feeling when they interact with you. Many customer calls are the result of a problem that is causing stress, therefore, repeated positive assurances are needed that things will go well. You must be an advocate and take on the persona of one. Phrases like, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you…” go a long way. Optimism is derived from confidence, which comes from your knowledge and training. Optimism feels good to your customers because they generally expect customer service people to be indifferent when faced with a concern. An optimistic and confident response to any issue, even for the small stuff, will be a delightful experience for your customers.
Energy. A little enthusiasm about helping your customers will take your far. However, demonstrating energy does not mean wild excitement. But rather, it means urgency and sending visible signals to your customers that show your desire to truly help. Smile and add vocal variety to your tone. Use expressive body language when explaining your products and their benefits. Don’t just sit there behind a table or desk. Show your genuine interest in a person by drawing yourself closer to them and making eye contact. Customers are attracted to the passion you express for your products. This passion is conveyed through your energy. It builds trust and enhances the overall experience felt by your customers.
Empathy. It’s important to recognize that hollow apologies can make things worse. Customers can sense when your apology is scripted and phony and something you’ve said to a hundred customers before. Empathy requires a tremendous amount of focus and reflective listening. You need to imagine yourself in the customer’s situation, clarify precisely where the frustration lies and then identify what your customer needs in order to feel whole again. Always allow ample time for the customer to fully express themselves and never interrupt or rush the customer into finishing their explanation prematurely. It’s a process. As a result, your interactions with them will naturally take on a more serious tone and they will appreciate this. When you engage with them, you will inherently display optimism and energy, in addition to empathy. The experience felt by the customer will be genuine and worthy. This will diffuse the most difficult of situations.
Speed. Customers will attempt to find a solution on their own. When they have failed, they now approach you for a resolution. Their tolerance is low and patience is short due to these missed expectations. This is why customers are generally upset right off the bat when they call or visit with you. Therefore, you need to hustle. Processes that make customers start all over, fill out forms or repeat troubleshooting steps impedes a customers’ forward progress and builds a tidal wave of frustration. Therefore, you must listen carefully and move quickly. You may be inconvenienced by this drop-everything moment, however, your customer has already dropped everything in seeking an answer, so it’s understandable that you now must share in their experience. But with your speedy resolution you increase the likelihood of turning an issue around and creating a positive customer experience.
Honesty. When honest analysis and recommendations are at the forefront, you and your customers both win. Here’s an example: in examining my phone usage, a customer service rep at the wireless store shared with me how I could easily reduce my monthly bill $15 by dropping into lower tier. It was a shockingly wonderful customer experience. Why? Because I’ve been conditioned to believe that stores only want more money from me, therefore, I am cynical when I interact with them. Your customers want to believe that you are an expert consultant and that you have their best interests in mind. But they are reluctant to believe based on prior experience that has nothing to do with you. Your honesty and transparency will surprise and delight your customers and it builds trust too.
These five simple things can go a long way in improving the customer experience. They are obvious things, so we overlook them. But if you take these simple things and instill them in your heart and mind, then you will have discovered key pieces to the customer experience puzzle, which lead to long-term customer loyalty.