Roy's Blog: Serving Customers
February 20, 2017
There IS a secret ingredient to mixing a brew of remarkable customer experiences.
And it’s not about your service strategy.
And it’s not about the theory of customer behaviour.
So much is being written about how to build an effective customer experience strategy.
In fact advice and direction is “raining down” on organizations looking to establish “The Experience” as a competitive advantage.
Here’s my thinking.
I don’t think creating memories with an organization starts with strategy or study of consumer behaviour at all.
In fact I believe you can have a mediocre strategy and know sh*t about consumer behaviour theory and still deliver mind-blowing experiences.
The most common experience is created when two humans engage with one another. Yes, human-meets-technology creates an experience but it pales in comparison with the more frequent human interaction (I would argue in any event that the human - technology interaction should be modelled after the human - human one. It’s the benchmark that people use to set expectations).
The critical ingredient in human-to-human contact is emotion.
Does the server really care about taking care of the customer? Do they have the basic instinct and innate desire to serve others?
Because if they do, they will deliver crazy amazing experiences regardless of the specifics of the strategy.
These types of people would create dazzling experiences even if the strategy merely said “We intend to provide world class customer service” (YUK!).
“Head west” with your experience strategy but be obsessed with recruiting people who are born with the “caring virus”); who are “sick” with it and who naturally spread it to their colleagues.
Ask THEM how the human - technology interaction should look.
A pristine strategy without people who “love” people will go down in flames because execution is not an intellectual exercise; it’s achieved through acts of emotion on the frontline.
A vague strategy fuelled by human being lovers will deliver amazingness involuntarily.
P. S. And it’s NOT a training issue. You can’t train people to “love” other people. You can train ‘em to “grin” but that’s as far as it goes.
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series
- Posted 2.20.17 at 05:44 am by Roy Osing
December 5, 2016
Most startups have other priorities when they launch.
Creating interest in their idea, searching for investors and filing any required patents occupy most of the founders’ time at the get-go.
Thinking about creating a customer service culture doesn’t command much attention, if any at all.
Wrapped around your relevant and compelling idea, building a sustaining enterprise from the beginning must include developing a culture that exists to serve your customers as one of your priorities.
Here’s an approach to begin your service journey without overloading your resources and placing your other critical priorities in jeopardy.
Well before you are overwhelmed with drumming up interest for your launch, take a day and develop a service strategy for your business.
This strategy is intended to not only emphasize the handful of service elements you intend to focus on (to give you a competitive advantage) but also to define the context for the culture you want.
Avoid aspirational declarations in your strategy. “We will exceed customer expectations” or “We intend to provide excellent customer service” are not particularly helpful in understanding precisely how you intend to service your customers differently than your competitors.
Use the service strategy as your recruitment template; to define the type of skills, experience and attitude in EVERY person you intend hire; not just service employees.
Everyone in the enterprise from CEO to service clerk - must innately possess the service mentality. If you don’t hire with a serving criteria, a strong service culture will escape you.
Establish your own internal language based on the elements of your service strategy. Have everyone “talk the same talk” about service. For example I insisted we use “promises kept” as the phrase we used to describe meeting a commitment made to a customer. A promise is personal and was intended to engender personal accountability to the customer.
Take a moment to recognize “service heroes” regardless of whether you have 2 or 3 employees at the startup stage or more. The important thing is to build this recognition “system” early on so it becomes part of “the way you do things around here” - culture.
Bring customers in to have a conversation with the team. It’s extremely important to do this early and to communicate “we walk with customers”.
When it is necessary to establish rules and policies to govern how you intend to transact with customers, test your intentions WITH customers. You need to be “easy to do business with” and separate your startup from the herd. Customers will not only give you honest feedback they will be impressed that you asked for their input (because no other organization does).
Even before you have a single customer, decide on what needs to be measured (using you service strategy) and set up a simple system to measure how customers PERCEIVE the service they receive from you.
Be The ONLY startup with the foresight to begin crafting a service culture before you open your doors for business.
Waiting is a mistake.
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series
- Posted 12.5.16 at 05:50 am by Roy Osing
October 31, 2016
“Customer Appreciation Days” don’t cut it. In fact they add nothing to thank loyal customers for their business.
You can’t make people feel appreciated by doing an occasional tribute to their importance. And you can’t do it by holding an event; a crowded often cheesy affair with free coffee and muffins.
Customer appreciation is about making them ALWAYS feel special.. Every time they “touch” your business for whatever reason.
These 10 acts will warm your customers to you and create a customer service culture unmatched by others.
1. Recruit employees that REALLY like to serve others; who are “born” with the natural desire and ability to put the needs of others before their own. If you don’t have employees born to serve, you will never be able to express your appreciation to your customers.
2. Appreciate each of your customers differently. Applying a boiler plate approach to all assumes that everyone likes to be thanked in the same way. Not true. Everyone is different and the challenge is to find the way they, specifically, like to be recognized for their loyalty. By the way, avoid “trash and trinkets” and other gimmicks to say “thank you”; they’re cheap and impersonal.
3. Take every opportunity to thank them for their business. A simple but powerful tool to reinforce how much they are appreciated.
4. Empower your frontline people to serve your customers the way THEY want to be served. Escalations to supervisors on complaints or other issues robs your employees of the ability to have personal credibility and “flex” to the customer’s unique needs.
5. Take the problem solving role. People feel listened to and respected when someone takes an earnest concern in helping solve a problem they are encountering.
6. Institute a “loose” system of rules and policies. In fact refer to them as “guides” to indicate an openness and flexibility to engage customers in a friendly manner. Allow employees to act in favour of the customer; do whatever it takes to “say yes”.
7. Reserve special offers and deal promotions for your existing customers to thank them for their loyalty rather than as an incentive to attract new customers. Offering “3 months free service” to someone to get them to switch from their current supplier does little to make your existing customer base feel special.
8. If you can’t meet your customer’s specific needs, for whatever reason, help them find where they can go to get satisfaction EVEN A COMPETITOR. This shows you care about them and not about pushing your own agenda.
9. Have a conversation with a customer to discover what’s going on with them; don’t flog your message and products at them.
10. Surprise them with something they don’t expect. This isn’t about sending a birthday wish to them every year, it’s about discovering something more intimate about them and giving them a “gift” accordingly. Surprise gifting speaks volumes about how you really feel about them.
Treat your customers like human beings with feelings and individual desires if you want to make them feel special.
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series
- Posted 10.31.16 at 02:22 am by Roy Osing
August 15, 2016
I have seen people attract nightmare service and I have seen others attract caring, respectful and dazzling service.
From the same organization.
From the same server or customer service rep.
Despite the fact that an organization has a strong customer service culture and employees are recruited and trained to deliver amazing service, the customer controls much of “the moment” and it’s outcome.
Customers can do these 5 things to at least have a fighting chance for a memorable service experience.
(FYI, I suck at most of these but in a rare moment when I actually practice what I preach, I am amazed with the results I am able to get. I continue to try harder….)
1. Don’t bitch about the line up. I know it’s more than annoying but I guarantee that laying out your frustration on the server will get you less of what you want not what you expect. Empathy and cheerfulness will reap you the unexpected rewards.
2. Lose the righteous customer attitude. You are not superior to them. Bullying those who serve is a terrible behaviour on so many levels. Try treating them as an equal human being with feelings and watch the magic that results.
3. Smile and be light hearted in your demeanour. Happiness creates the right atmosphere for a delightful experience; gloom, doom and frowns is ominous foreshadowing and puts the server on guard rather than being open to serve.
4. Try to be gentle if there is a screw up and your expectations are not met. In fact since you are dealing with a system comprised mostly of human beings I think it’s a good idea to LOWER one’s expectations to stand a better chance of being satisfied.
5. Ask for the manager ONLY if there is no other option. Avoid the temptation to jump to this action too early. Give the server the opportunity to solve whatever problem you’re having and redeem themselves. No one likes to be disempowered from making it right with a customer.
In a perfect world, organizations with a customer centric strategy would deliver flawless service to us consistently.
But we live in an imperfect world where our outcomes in large part depend on what WE do and how WE behave in a service situation.
Give it a try.
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- Posted 8.15.16 at 05:14 am by Roy Osing