Category Archives: Customer Service

When Customer Success Isn’t

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Customer Success.

Any organization that dedicates a team towards customer success (CS) sounds like they have a competitive edge in the marketplace.

But when “customer success” results in pain points for the customer, it may be time to review what it means to have a said “success” program.

Here are some of the common errors that many companies commit in their pursuit of having a team for customer success.

  • Customers are not the real focus. If your department is geared simply towards hitting KPIs, CRM management or other processes or metrics, then the customer has been relegated to a lower priority. The focus of success then becomes that of the team instead. Making the customer at all times to focal point will make the team successful every time.
  • Those outside the team don’t support success. The person in other department who is told about a customer issue then says it’s not my job and moved onto their focus. The salesperson who got their sale and met their metric then did nothing above and beyond when customer success faltered. If the entire organization is not dedicated to CS, then the entire organizational culture will struggle to support customers in the future.
  • The customer gets held up in bureaucracy. Most of this stems from the silos from non-CS team members. But if your processes and systems bog down quick success or resolutions and leave the customer with a negative experience, you will need to refine them to ensure all touchpoints in the relationship are smooth and beneficial.
  • They only address symptoms, not causes of the issues. “Customer has an issue? Click this. Submit that. Done. Next.” You may be great at on-boarding, yet poor at continued support. If your team and systems only resolve surface issues without delving into the root causes to prevent further instances, then true success cannot be achieved. Review every issue and track trends to ensure underlying causes are identified and rectified to create a smoother experience for the customer.
  • There is no building relationship or customer experience. Due to our digital workplaces, many of these folks are regional, remote and detached from the customer. No one attempts to bridge the gap by adding any value. CS teams need to develop a culture of making each and every customer feel connected. When customers feel valued they’re be less likely to churn, and more committed to working with you towards their success as well.
  • Not qualifying customers to determine fit. I have a saying “We want every customer, but we don’t need every customer”. Not every client that’s brought on is the right fit. Customers may not be successful due to their own internal issues and this puts a strain on your resources and ability to guide them. By better qualifying what type of customer is best suited to be successful in using your services, you can ensure more resources to ensure your other customers succeed.

Customer success, such as displayed by industry leaders like Zappos, is a holistic, cultural approach. It cannot be done in a silo. It requires all or your people to have a complete commitment towards that vision and bringing this value proposition to life.

Make your customers succeed at all costs.

(image: pixabay)

#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)

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