Carolyn Blunt1

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want…

Most companies aspire to be the best in the industry, to be leading the way in customer service and this is understandable! However, in aiming for excellence many companies fall short of customer expectations because perfection is hard to achieve. Have you ever considered that maybe customers don’t want perfection after all, they just want service? Are companies striving for excellence because they think that’s what customers want? Maybe customers want something different. Service with more of a human touch?

There is a beach restaurant that has a sign on its entrance way “World’s worst service”. Inside are other quirky signs that read “Tell a manager, they don’t care.” You may wonder what business would really be serious about advertising their poor service. In reality it’s all part of the fun vibe. The underlying message is: “Don’t get stressed about the small stuff, you’re here to have fun, relax!” Most of the time their service is actually pretty good, and even if it’s sometime slow it’s never bad because it’s all in good humour. Customers love going there because the expectation is of fun rather than excellence. Which is exactly the vibe you’d expect at a laid back beach bar.

This demonstrates a valuable lesson: Know what your customers really expect from you

Are you customers looking for fun or excellence? By default we almost always assume it has to be excellence, but what if you took a different approach and injected more vibrancy and personality into how you serve customers? The actual service standard doesn’t drop, you just do things a little differently from the norm. It’s not about being unprofessionally casual either, it’s about understanding what your customers really want and need. What’s most valuable to them? Is it their time? Is it being given an opportunity to laugh? Is it being able to relax, knowing someone else is taking care of the problem? Have you asked them? Focus groups and surveys can provide excellent insight.

It’s a well-known idea that the best customer service is no service at all. Silent service. It’s when things just happen as they are supposed to. Too often companies try achieve this through systems and rules. How about using people instead? How about investing in and growing your employees so that they can be empowered to facilitate each customer experience and make it seem effortless? Here are a few ideas on how to go about this:

  1. Give ownership

People tend to give more and work harder when they have a vested interest in something. It makes them proud at the end of the day to be able to say “I did that!” Train your team to take ownership of customer problems and apply themselves to finding a solution. Give them the tools they need to achieve this and let them have a little freedom (within parameters). It’s amazing the impact this can have on customer service and a team.

  1. Train on soft skills

Never underestimate the human touch. A warm customer greeting, or having an empathetic approach to solving problems for customers goes a long way. People notice these small things, the kind words especially. Soft skills are too often overlooked in training, when they really do make a big impact on customers.

  1. Pour passion into work

Passion creates energy and vibrancy in the workplace. When people love what they do, it shows in their voice and demeanor. Customers pick up on this energy and it gives them confidence that they are dealing with someone that can make things happen and wants to help them. Passion also has a way of inspiring others and building up strong teams of customer service agents.

  1. Always be about gaining customer loyalty

If it works for the customer they will come back again and again in the future. Even if there was a problem in the past, if it was resolved quickly and easily it can help create a very loyal customer. Loyal customers grow businesses. In whatever decisions you make, always think about how it will impact the customer. It’s tempting to think about how the company will benefit most, but keep in mind if the customer benefits, then the company benefits too. Too often organisations fall foul of inside-out thinking –trying to fit the customer to the processes they want to have. Instead design your customer experience from the outside-in. What do your customers want? Will the customer like it, is it something they need?  The simple answer: ask them to tell you what they want. What they really, really want.

For more tips and ideas to improve customer experience in your contact centre download my free ebook: http://bit.ly/theFREEebook

Carolyn Blunt is Managing Director of Real Results, a consultancy that works with contact centres to improve performance.  Carolyn is especially renowned for identifying opportunities to improve customer experience and sales whilst creating efficiencies. www.real-results.co.uk