Blake Morgan, CONTRIBUTOR
Companies have a bad habit of treating customers like a flaky guy would treat a girl he didn’t care about. Once they have the customer, they don’t want to deal with what it takes to manage that relationship. Don’t miss-read me; you are in a relationship with your customers. Are you being the flaky guy? Or are you arriving with flowers and a dinner reservation? Relationships take work. Every company today must work hard to earn business. The only thing that will get you repeat business is customer experience. Other than that there are a lot of companies out there just like you (or on their way). Customer experience is the only way to differentiate. Don’t let poor customer experiences bring your brand down. Here I’ve detailed five customer experience killers. Don’t let this be you!
- If you only get serious about customer service when executives get escalation. Are you a company that only gets serious about customer service when senior executives get emails from customers? This can be your downfall. If the customer service department only gets its ducks in a row when a senior officer forwards an escalation, you are not preparing for the long-term. Band-aids in support are not going to cut it. Companies that invest in customer service do well. If the customer service department cares more about saving its reputation with c-level officers internally than it does about fixing broken systems and processes this is your first sign you have terrible customer service.
- Your marketing department doesn’t involve customer service in social media engagement. Marketing has the money (for now). Marketing departments at large enterprises have big budgets to continue to drive sales. One of the places marketing continues to lead is social media. However, what happens when your social media marketing efforts are so effective that customers react? Not only do these customers react, they have questions for you–loads of them. But guess what? Marketing often doesn’t have the knowledge (literally the knowledge base) that customer service has. Wonderful things happen when customer service is put in charge of social media. The reason for this is social media is about engagement. When it comes to how customers want to engage with a company–it’s about the product. The product could be broken, the customer could be trying to optimize the product, or the customer has important feedback of some kind regarding the product. Customer service has the mechanism to engage with these customers. Marketing doesn’t. If you are a CEO tasked with allocating social media to a department, don’t just hand social media to marketing because in the past they have handled “communication.” Social media is different. Get service involved, early.
- You don’t empower your agents to make exceptions. Here’s the problem with customer service; customer service agents often get little training, few tools, and no power. Guess what, your biggest stakeholders are calling them–your customers! We know that customer experience is a hugely important aspect of your business. In fact having an unmemorable customer experience is what should keep your CEO up at night. Agents need to be able to think and speak for themselves. If you tell your agents what to say in a total of ten scenarios–what happens when there’s an 11th scenario? Nothing good. Life happens–and there is a human element to business. That means there will be variation in the customer service interactions. Make sure your system and process can account for these variations. Remember, customers are your number one stakeholders. Without customers, you don’t have a business.
- You don’t value people in customer service. The employee experience has an immense impact on the customer experience. When you peek beneath the hood of companies that provide atrocious customer service, often the employee experience also sucks. Not only do they treat customers terribly, but also they treat employees worse. If you are a company that doesn’t value its employees you are going to eventually meet your grave. The reason for this is you won’t be able to compete with companies that understand the power of a strong company culture. Customers today value how they feel they’re being treated. If you treat your customer-facing employees like crap–guess what? Your employees are going to feel like crap. And who is going to incur the wrath of those employees? Your customers of course. A poor corporate culture is a recipe for disaster.
- You don’t train your customer service agents to be generally awesome. Have you heard people talk about a scarcity mentality versus a wealth mentality? To boil it down, a scarcity mentality is when someone always feels poor. They’re hoarders. They hoard information, people and resources. They are not generous with knowledge unless it clearly benefits them. In contrast, a mentality of wealth means you feel generous, giving and compassionate. You want your customer service agents to feel that wealthy mentality, because in today’s competitive marketplace you need to create and give things that extend beyond your direct product or service. A customer might have a question unrelated to your exact product or service, but tangentially related. Your agents need to be able to engage with the customer even if it’s off-script. This is the marketplace we’re in today. You need to get used to giving without expectation especially in service. Sometimes that means providing knowledge. Sometimes that means directing business to other companies. This is the world we live in today. It’s not going away.
So, what customer experience killers would you add to this list? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.
Blake Morgan is the founder of customer experience and content advisory firm Flight Digital. Please feel free to send her a comment at @BlakeMorgan on Twitter.
Posted by Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing and branding and services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more at https://branworks.com/customer-experience-2/