Category Archives: Customer Experience

#ThursdayThought – Acknowledging Customers Is Job #1

There Are No Faceless Customers - Each One Is A Person To Be Acknowledged

The overwhelming majority of places I see – retail, banks, gas stations and so on – have left me noticing a trend that the customer is no longer the focus.

There is a big box retailer that I visited in 2 different locations that gave me the worst service ever – both times. One customer even pointed out that I was waiting on the other side of the counter and the employee said “Yeah, I’m not worried about him.”  In both of these visits there was no acknowledgement of my presence.

I see this often when patrons are at counters waiting to pay for gas or ring up their selections. Employees – and managers!! – instead of acknowledging the customer will finish their conversation on policy, work issues, or personal discussions and the customer stands there waiting to be noticed and grows frustrated by the moment.

I have seen this so often that it makes me worried about the trend in business that customers are a nuisance rather than a purpose.

Yet I remain optimistic that the space to give just a little acknowledgement to a customer will so set that company up for repeat business that I know those companies who stay customer-centric will win in the end.

Are customer acknowledged in your company consistently and promptly? It makes all the difference in the world to them. Nothing else matters.

(image: pixabay/canva/paullarue)

 

Customer Service – Are You All In On Employee Training?

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Imagine if you will a hospital that spent more time and money training their C-suite than their direct-care staff of doctors and nurses. Or a large airlines spending most of their training budget on the executive staff and very little on the pilots, flight crew, or mechanics.

The resulting scenraiors wold prove to be short-sighted and troublesome. And yet it seems that the average company spends more on training for upper level versus line-level or front-line employees.

A survey of average company training budgets will reveal that a typical company will spend from 2-5% of annual revenues on training.

The Association for Talent Development in their annual state of the industry report from last year revealed that the average company spent $1273 per employee in 2017.

Couple that with Training Mag’s study of “per-learner training” from the same period and you’ll see that most of the $1000-plus spending per-learner was done on the C-suite level, then less for mid-level management and the least individual employees. The exception seemed to be for “high potential” employees.

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If you take these statistics and see the ongoing (10 + years) trend in worsening customer service experiences, one can draw a conclusion that more training needs to be invested on the front line staff in order to reverse this trend. And while some of this is related to the rapid education of the customer and the tight labor market, there is still one thing any company can do to provide a better customer experience.

Spend more time training your front line staff than you do anyone else.

About 15 years ago a restaurant chain claimed to spend more money than the industry on training was found to have actually shortchanged their line staff and spent more resources on opening more and more units. This eventually led to their bankruptcy just a few years later.

A couple of independent and different healthcare organizations were both afflicted with the same fate in the last few years. Instead of managing resources to the employees in the way of training, they diverted those monies to the top of the organization. As a result, patient care and satisfaction tanked, employees left, and both are facing various regulatory issues as they struggle to be in compliance.

While training and development of all levels of staff are essential, the expenses of major conferences at higher levels can tend to be very expensive without much ROI and direct customer impact. But a more focused training on front-line staff will reap higher returns and boost your levels of customer satisfaction. It’s a model that Chick-Fil-A uses to their advantage in their huge growth over the least decade. Same for Bonobos, whose goal is to help their workers become better employees and equip them with skills needed to do their jobs. CyberCoders and Paychex also have made committed goals to go all in on training their employees and their cultures and recruiting efforts reflect this quite positively.

What is being advocated here is the mindset to pour better and more focused resources – proportionately – into those employees who face your customers and have the most touchpoints with them. In a shifting economy and sliding landscape of digital and analaog business, being able to spend your resources on front-line training is essential for a company to stand out. In order to combat evolving business models, tight staffing, and increasing customer expectations, you need to up your game to invest in more training for your employees who most come in contact with your customers.

Determine today to build a better company and go all in on employee training.

The best companies know that the reasons to spend more on training are worth every cent.

(per-learner image: brandonhallgroup; main image: pixabay)

How Organizations Need To Confirm Humanity

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Have you ever had to click on the above image? You know, those automated boxes that prevent “bots” from spamming their site whenever you make a purchase, download a file, or subscribe to their email newsletter.

It helps to allow the digital experience to qualify better organization-to-consumer relationships and minimize organization-to-automation drain on their resources.

This “Confirm Humanity” process is quite necessary today, but what is more necessary in today’s world is the need to actually confirm humanity when it comes to customer service in the digital realm.

A recent study on customer service showed that it is the new battlefield of differentiation for marketing, yet it will be spread across multiple platforms to reach customers. The challenge with the multi-channel service is that between online, mobile and social media portals is that there is huge challenge to confirm humanity at every interaction.

It’s not enough to deliver a digital experience across several channels but to ensure that each customer feels there is both a human experience and human connection.

The anti-bot checkbox helps confirm humanity to the company, but how is your company confirming humanity to your customers?

Just because a channel is hosted online does not mean there cannot be a human experience behind it. Many ways to confirm humanity exist on those digital channels such as:

  • Video introduction, interaction, of confirmation of subscription or purchase
  • Having an intuitive design for customer experience
  • Creating a Zappos-like instant chat or call center culture
  • Showing politeness and thankfulness on confirmation screens, pop-ups, and weekly newsletters (versus the standard “Thank you for your order.”
  • Ensure the end-user experience is smooth, intuitive, stable and built with the customer, not the company, foremost in mind
  • Use psychology and behavior patterns to be more intune to your customers tendencies, needs and expectations
  • Personalize their service using smart AI and allow the customer to personalize their experience as well
  • Humanize your brand image – even the most tech and industrial companies do this such as Rackspace
  • Get your customers to be engaged through your channels, whether building raving fans or deeper community online

There are myriads of ways to confirm the humanity of your company to your customers. While customers continue to gravitate to online channels, they are still people who want to be valued as people on the other end of the transaction. making your digital experience a great customer experience by infusing more humanity will determine your success in this area.

Oh, and one more very important thing. Make sure everyone in your organization confirms humanity by displaying care and great service attitudes as well. Most companies are still sorely lacking in this area. No matter how many multi-channel services you offer, the interpersonal customer experience is always about people, and starts and stops here.

 

 

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