Consumers know what great customer service feels like, but it is difficult to define how to accomplish this from the delivery perspective. Great customer service is all about people and relationships. Most people and customers make a mental picture in their minds of how a person should be treated and that becomes the standard by which their experience is judged. The customer service expectations for sales professionals, servers, front desk personnel, doctors, lawyers, etc. are the same. It is the vital part of the consumer interaction that could make or break the consumers opinions of your company.
No one likes to call a customer service number just to be placed on hold, nor do they want to walk aimlessly around a deserted store looking for an employee to assist them. How can businesses stay on the exceptional customer service track? By consistently engaging their team in customer experience management discussions and holding their team accountable to deliver upon these best practices.
In today’s world, customer service alone just won’t cut it. To create memorable experiences requires companies to rise above the masses of companies that are only giving lip service and ”talking the talk” of customer service programs. The most successful organizations are “talking the talk AND walking the walk.” Those businesses that are world known for consistently delivering the best customer service put extra emphasis on customer experience management and enhancement day in and day out.
Customer service is vital. Any company that isn’t constantly striving to put an emphasis on customer service improvement won’t survive for long.
When a consumer thinks about a brand or a specific store, they are considering the overall experience, not just how quickly they were assisted. They are constantly forming a complete opinion of the company.
Customer Experience Management Solutions
It’s hard to define a set of rules and guidelines on how your specific company can improve the customer experience, but being honest with yourself is a good place to start. Instead of asking the question “How did we all do today?,” ask “What experience did we provide for our customers?” The entire experience is the big picture of how their encounter was from pre-interaction to post-interaction.
Delivering the best customer service requires an in-depth look at the entire experience and a management team that is constantly striving to improve their strategy by serving all customers with heart and monitoring progress through customer satisfaction programs, audits, and mystery shops.
It’s time to not only think about your actions as a company, but to also pay closer attention to your customers’ reactions.
About The Author Service Excellence Group, Inc. is a customer experience measurement and solutions provider with a focus on performance management, research and customer intelligence. Service Excellence Group has developed partnerships with clients in an open and collaborative way that is flexible to the changing environment. Service Excellence Group can help you in delivering the best customer service possible. We offer services such as mystery shoppers and audits to help grow your customer service management.
As our culture progresses toward becoming more digital savvy, consumers are more often using online reviews to find product information and evaluations in customer experience. Whether the review is good or bad, it can largely impact the final purchase decisions. The controversy lies in the question of whether or not a consumer can tell if the customer evaluation is genuine or falsified.
According to an article published by the New York Times, a team of Cornell researchers recently published a paper on a developing a computer algorithm that could detect the legitimacy of online reviews. The fact is, products with a higher rating sell better than those with less stars, therefore the ultimate goal is to get as many of great reviews on the web as possible. However, with the rising number of fake reviews on the net, there is growing need for exploration and regulation over this matter.
As Russell Dicker, Amazon Director of Community, put it, “Any one review could be someone’s best friend, and it’s impossible to tell that in every case. We are continuing to invest in our ability to detect these problems.”
It is often difficult to tell if these evaluations in customer experience are real, sponsored or written covertly for compensation. The Cove, an English hotel, was recently under scrutiny for allegedly offering consumers 10 percent off their stay at the hotel in return for posting reviews on TripAdvisor that were honest, yet positive. The abrupt spike in positive reviews resulted in TripAdvisor delivering a warning, generating attention from the British government and the ASA.
Although falsified reviews are beginning to be better examined, important questions still remain. Will the public ever be able to trust online reviews? Will consumers ever be able to detect the real reviews, both positive and negative, from a business competitor or an upset consumer looking for revenge?
With increasing developments in technology, consumers now have information about products, customer experience, management, pricing and more at the tip of their finger. It is more important than ever that companies take into consideration how to approach and utilize online reviews. Here are a coupe measures to take when dealing with online reviews:
The Food Pyramid tells a person the best way to increase their health is by showing them what a balanced diet looks like. A new guide has been introduced by the government called My Plate. It takes the Food Pyramid to the next level by portioning daily meals for people. This guide focuses on the amount of steak, potatoes and mixed greens that are necessary for a healthy diet. Now this appears to have nothing to do with the customer service industry, however, the principles of My Plate can be utilized to construct a healthy customer service plan.
The four basic elements of My Plate are protein, grains, fruits and vegetables, and dairy. The customer experience management solutions we are offering today also consist of four basic elements; Delivering A Message, Achieving Dependability, Understanding Communication, and Reaching Results.
Delivering a Message = Protein – This is the powerhouse of your plan. As a company you need to present a brand experience and feel that each and every consumer can identify. This is the sustenance of you customer service plan.
Achieving Dependability = Grains – This is what keeps your company going. Customers need to be presented with the same service experience each time. A plan that is reliable will keep consumers coming back.
Understanding Communication = Fruits and Vegetables – The most important part of a well-balanced customer service plan is communication. Communicating with your team to ensure a thorough understanding of your company’s best practices and expectations for delivering consistency in the customer experience.
Reaching Results = Dairy – Just as calcium makes the body strong, achieving desired results builds the strength of a company. To do this, your plan needs to focus upon catering to the wants and needs of each customer. Satisfied customers are returning customers.
The My Plate guide is only effective if it is utilized on a regular basis. Making sure these customer experience management solutions are applied consistently is the largest obstacle on the path to a physically fit customer service plan. Monitoring your new “diet plan” is also crucial. This means asking customers about their experience and searching for new and innovative ways to improve those experiences.
Are you delighting your customers? In today’s economy, your consumers are watching their every dollar and their decision on where to spend that dollar is looming. This means your customer retention strategy should go beyond simply satisfying your customers. – To enhance the brand loyalty factor you, you must ultimately delight them.
Think about some of the most popular brands in the world: Apple, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton, Coca-Cola, Nike, Disney. What to do all of these brands have in common? They know what pleases their customers and they consistently seek to not only provide what their customers want, but to give their customers goods and services that they can get excited about. And, the delivery of these goods and services is with the focus on the client, not the company.
So, how do you know if you are delighting your customers? You will never know if you don’t ask. Gathering customer feedback is not a difficult process when you use the right tools. One tool that is very effective in gauging how your customers feel is the use of client satisfaction surveys.
These user satisfaction surveys can be delivered in a variety of ways, but Interactive Computer Response (ICR) Programs offer you a quick and cost effective means of finding out how your customers feel. ICR Programs are delivered online, and can be customized with your company colors, logo, and incentives. Your patrons can easily access your ICR user satisfaction surveys on their smartphones, so opinions about your business are registered instantly.
Then, once your customers complete the satisfaction surveys, you can straightforwardly review the data and apply the results to your customer retention strategy. The competition never sleeps, and neither should your customer feedback methodology. An effective customer retention strategy provides an ongoing pipeline of customer feedback data How are you ensuring you delight your customers? We’d love to know in the comments.
When choosing a Mystery Shopping Company for your business, look past the promises and discover the true value the organization and their services will offer your company.
You should be looking for a mystery shopping provider that has experience and relationships with different industries and organizations types. It’s helpful to review current clients and past clients to ensure they will be able to accommodate your company’s needs.
During your search for a reputable mystery shopping company, request confirmation of the executive team’s commitment and involvement in day-to-day operations. Ensuring the A-Team or Owner is tapped in to the status and progress of your program should build your confidence in their commitment to your satisfaction.
How does the company plan to offer a return on your company’s investment? Measuring compliance to trained best practices can provide a client with a birds-eye view of their training success. It’s helpful to know what goals need to be met and how your mystery shopping company will be able to track them.
Companies offering savvy reporting platforms that provide reports displaying how a behavior impacts an overall shop score, as well as the customer’s perception, will be valuable to your growth. Analyzing the intelligence gleaned from mystery shopping experiences also supports the understanding of the value the program has to a client’s bottom line.
Reputable mystery shopping companies have a measurement systems in place to evaluate shopper performance and provide results. Each client provides parameters for mystery shopping companies as they select contractors to evaluate their team’s performance. It is in the interest of the client for mystery shopping companies to measure each contractor’s ability to observe, record, and follow the client’s specific requests for project execution. If the mystery shopping company ranks shoppers on specific attributes the selection process is targeted, realistic, and provides actionable items for improvement.
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It’s no secret that effective communication is the key to great business. We’ve heard it a thousand times, but it’s true. Good communication, in its many forms, does wonders for productivity, morale, and efficiency within any company.
But are you being as effective of a communicator with your customers as you should be?
When it comes to first-class communication with customers, listening is perhaps the best thing you can do. And the best listeners are the ones who give their customers room to talk. That’s why targeted customer satisfaction programs, backed by solid customer satisfaction market research, are one of the best ways to increase communication with your customers.
When it comes to customer satisfaction programs, it’s best to think of them as conversations. Here are the top 5 items to think about when giving your customers room to use their voice.
It’s always best to know who you’re in conversation with, or at least who you want to be in conversation with. This is where good customer satisfaction market research can come in. Don’t just open the forum to anyone. Before you do anything else, be sure to know who your customers are.
This goes right along with targeting. Once you know who your customers are you can begin thinking about how best to communicate with them. Are your customers internet users? Maybe an online survey is the best way to go. Are they more traditional? Perhaps a good old phone call will get them talking. For customers with smart phones, printing receipts with QR codes that link to a survey might be the ticket.
It all depends on who your customers are and how well you know them. Sometimes even a nice face-to-face conversation will yield the best results.
It may seem obvious, but just like in any everyday conversation, tone of voice and respect are vitally important. Again, it all goes back to knowing your customers. Ask too many questions, and they will be turned off. Ask questions that are too complex, and they won’t know what to say. Call the wrong person at home, and you may just lose a customer.
It’s a delicate situation, so proceed with care. Make it clear that your intention is to get to know your customer better, not to annoy or sell them anything.
Answers Over Questions
Less obvious than tone and manners, but equally as important, is the type of questions you ask.
Journalists, talk show hosts, and good conversationalists know this one already-it’s not always best to ask the question that’s at the front of your mind. Good questions are formulated ahead of time. They expect and attempt to avoid easy answers.
If it helps, think about your questions as prompts. When writing them, ask yourself, What are all of the possible answers this question will receive? How can I edit this to get more useful answers?
By now you’re already thinking about your customer satisfaction program like a conversation, so it should be no surprise that the final item to focus on is response.
A good communicator gives their partner ample time to speak, then offers an acknowledgment or response. The same goes for customer satisfaction programs.
Your response can be as simple as a written thank you, or it can be as grand as a prize drawing or raffle. Whatever the response is, make sure you have one, and make sure it is a genuine thank you, and not an “incentive.” Today’s savvy customers can tell the difference, believe me.
If you are considering a new customer satisfaction program for your business, or a client’s, contact Service Excellence Group. Service Excellence Group are experts in customer satisfaction market research. They offer business services that include mystery shopping, customer feedback, audits, brand research, consulting, training, and more.
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How To Choose Your Market Research Consultant
Of all the qualities and best practices that help turn good businesses into great ones, market research analysis is perhaps the trickiest. It’s also the most frequently overlooked. We’ve already seen how important an effective market research consultant is, but how do you go about finding one?
In a lot of ways, finding a good market research consultant can be like shopping for a good pair of jeans-on the surface they may all look very similar, but finding the perfect fit takes a little scrutiny, a little familiarity with yourself, and sometimes a little magic.
Here are a few things to keep in mind.
There are a lot of ways to go about doing market research analysis, and a lot of folks who will be willing to do it for you. One way to quickly narrow your search is by searching for consultants with industry-specific experience and strategies. If you’re a consignment-clothing store, look for a firm that has worked with either clothing or consignment stores before. If you do food, find someone who specializes in restaurants.
In addition to this, make sure to mention your industry up-front when you call. That way, you won’t be wasting valuable time.
Do Your Research
While searching for the right consultant can be stressful and time-consuming, it’s important not to sign up with the first one you speak to, or even the second. Take your time. Shop around. Remember: you’re the customer here; they should be asking for your business.
When they do come to you (and they will), ask questions. Ask more questions than you think are necessary. Ask to see their portfolio, ask for the contact information of their past and current clients, ask them to prepare a presentation for you. If they’re experienced, they’ll be able to do this for you, no problem.
Keep It Local
This one may not apply to every situation, but we think it’s important. With internet connections getting faster by the day and smart phone technology in more and more pockets across the world, it’s easy to forget that most of a brick-and-mortar store’s sales still come from local patrons. Keep this in mind when looking for a market research consultant. Find someone who has expertise in your market and your area.
The difference between a good fit and a perfect fit is in the intangibles. Sometimes it can seem like magic, but I’ve never been one to ignore a hunch. If you’ve done all of your research, asked all of the right questions, and you still can’t decide, trust your gut. Pick the team or person who you can see yourself getting along with best.
In these types of situations, a good relationship goes a long way. And don’t fret. It can take a little bit more time, but the effort will be worth it. After all, it’s the future of your dream and passion. Your attitude should let your potential consultant know that.
For more information on marketing research analysis contact the Service Excellence Group. The Service Excellence Group are market research consultants that what your organization needs to measure the total customer experience. Their services include but are not limited to mystery shopping services, customer feedback solutions, brand audits and research, customer service consulting, training, and more.