In this article Dr. Parson gives us some great tips on how to create unforgettable customer experiences.
It has been said that positive customer service has the following characteristics: it is a surprise to the customer, it is greater than the customer’s expectation, it is whimsical and so superb that it generates a positive buzz among other customers – and their friends.
From this we can learn that treating customers well depends upon seeing them as people who always deserve your respect, assistance and gratitude.
What are some strategies your employees can take to create a positive experience for customers?
Here are my tips:
1. Maintain a positive attitude. This is the most important element in delivering a positive experience to your customers. Appear eager to solve their concern. Take a long-term viewpoint of the importance of maintaining a relationship with each customer. Such goodwill will produce repeat business.
2. Actively listen to the customer’s needs/concerns/frustrations. Verify and clarify what you are hearing from your customer before you begin to act. Nothing is more frustrating to the customer than having to repeat his/herself because the employee is not listening OR because you are stalling for time (my printer experience).
3. Keep in mind that your customers may be very frustrated and not be at their best behavior. Stay focused on your goal – which is to resolve the issue.
4. Be honest and clear in your communications. Admit when your company has caused the problem and provide unwelcome information directly, kindly and in positive terms when needed.
5. Acknowledge the customer’s frustrations. When your company caused the problem, remember not to criticize the company!
6. Look for solutions which allow a win-win solution. Don’t blame customers for their mistakes – sometimes we as customers get it wrong.
7. Confirm that the solution is agreed by the customer and the organization’s objectives for customer service.
8. Resolve the problem. Do what you said you were going to do, keep the customer informed and follow-up with the customer to confirm satisfaction.
9. Go one step beyond what your customer expects.
10. Always thank customers. Treat them as valued partners in your organization’s ability to achieve its strategic objectives.
11. Provide the basic principles of service. My favorite office supply company always welcomes me when I walk through their doors. The greeting is always upbeat and excited – making me feel welcomed.
12. Ensure all employees (customer facing and non-customer facing) understand the organization’s objectives and values concerning customers.
Some Additional Thoughts for Improving Customer Service
Know your customers and go beyond their expectations… make them say “WOW!”
Be passionate about customer relationships.
Remember that only extremely satisfied customers are genuinely loyal; don’t assume that repeat customers are loyal customers. Your positive attitude toward your customers does not mean that the relationship is mutual (you could be the only game in town… today).
Customers who feel appreciated, respected, valued and recognized are loyal because they have an emotional connection to your company.
Only use technology which supports the customer relationship.
Hire the best of those who can become the best – train and develop them and do everything to keep them in the team.
Offer services which are above the norm within your industry.
When mistakes happen, treat them as opportunities.
Experience your own business as your customers do (Have you seen Undercover Boss?).
You are probably less customer focused than you think (check all levels of customer interfaces).
Pay attention to the little things – anticipate your customer’s needs before they become aware of them. If you listen closely, your customers will tell you how to impress them.
Customer satisfaction is worthless… Customer Loyalty is Priceless.
Good customer relationships arise from your culture… not your programs or initiatives. For example, how you treat your employees is an indicator of how you treat your customers.
A customer focused strategy should develop a relationship with customers which nurtures commitment and cultivates a long-lasting loyalty (both ways). It can be viewed as an attitude which relies upon genuine and expressed respect for the customer. It is an extension of your brand instilling trust, confidence and reliability.
About the Author
Dr. Stephanie Parson is the president of Crowned Grace International. She and her team deliver over 35 Leadership: From Ordinary to Extraordinary™ workshops around the world. Dr. Parson has also held executive level roles at Walt Disney World (Vice President), Parsons Brinckerhoff (Vice President & CIO), The Seagram Company (Director) and as a commissioned officer in the US Air Force.