Through my everyday routines, and especially when I travel, I am in contact with organizations of every kind. Whether it's simply grabbing a cup of coffee, picking up some household essentials, or following up on one of my many bills (any chance I can ignore these?! Lol) I have multiple touch points with companies every day. I am either on somebody's web site, on the phone, engaging in an e-mail or live chat, or talking to someone in person. It is a continuous circle of daily interaction. And recently there have been a few experiences that defined the art of simplicity - moreover, on almost every occasion there was a high degree of care to right a wrong.
Here they are!
- When asking to speak with an employee's Supervisor, I was immediately and courteously transferred. This rarely happens. Often when I go this route (wish I didn't have to, but that's another blog for another time) I am given a list of reasons why that can't happen. Does this sound familiar? "She will just give you the same answer" or "My Supervisor isn't available" or (and this is my favourite) "I am the most senior person available". So to be transferred when I asked, without resistance, was refreshing. Keep in mind that I already positioned my concerns and made it clear that the employee's solution was not going to work and that she already said she could do nothing more.
- When I experienced a privacy breach, I was amazed by how easy it was to escalate my concern and the degree of empathy shown. Moreover, I dealt directly with the head of Customer Care and had a satisfactory resolution within 24 hours. Now that's a company who takes its customer privacy seriously!
- When I arrived in a hotel room that I was staying in, I realized that the room I had booked was not the one I was given. When I went to the front desk to see about changing it, I was immediately given a sincere apology and a complimentary upgrade to the best room they had. No negotiating - which I thrive on doing :) - no fuss, and no guilt. Just a hotel that ensures it's employees know HOW to handle situations that come up every day. What a pleasant surprise!
There should be no reason why ALL companies can't deliver the kind of experiences I describe above. It shouldn't matter how big your customer service channel is either. Each of these companies are large sized Canadian and U.S. based organizations and they got it RIGHT. Now maybe I got lucky - I might have just spoken with the right employees - or perhaps my loyalty with said companies was taken into account? Maybe it was my approach? Whatever the case, the experiences should stand on their own, and serve as great lessons for how simplicity can make a big difference in delivering a great customer experience.
For customer service/experience leaders out there, please keep in mind the following:
- Teach your employees to take the customer at their word - yes, some consumers may try and take advantage of the situation when escalating but this is not the norm. More often than not, we will be reasonable with what we expect to get matters resolved. Ensure your employees can tell the difference and ask for help when they need it. Role play real life scenarios to guide them.
- EMPOWER your employees. I cannot emphasize this enough! There is no greater incentive for employees to do right than to be trusted and given the tools to do so. Of course, set guidelines and ensure you have a terrific quality assurance program so together, you can help them learn and grow from each difficult interaction.
- Measure and reward your employees on customer resolution. This will give them extra incentive to think resolution above all else - if their bonuses can be affected, even better. Ensure the program does not encourage them to overcompensate at all costs; balance is key and having the support of strong quality assurance and coaching programs really help.
- Celebrate when your employees successfully resolve customer escalations. Every once in a while, make a big deal about it too. The more employees realize just how important it is to resolve customer issues, especially those that have escalated, the more drive they will have to do so.
- Connect your employees' work with that of the broader organization. Help them understand just how valuable resolving customer issues can be - break it down into dollars and cents so they can think about it in executive terms. This will help them feel like they are a part of something bigger. We all know how difficult a front line employee's job is, most of us started there. Keeping that in mind will help!
These are just five ways to make resolving customer issues simpler and more effective. There are others but starting here will go a long way towards distinguishing your customer experience. None of this work is easy and what I talk about above is only a summary of what's needed to be successful. Although sometimes knowing where to start is half the battle; from there, you may find it's just a bit easier to figure things out.
We are Customer Service Simplified. Come visit us at www.simplifyingservice.com to learn more about how we help organizations simplify and distinguish their customer experience. Click here to contact us. And don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter.