It is the season of list making and predictions.
There are about a hundred lists out there about how to win with customer service in 2019, and they are written by people of purpose, passion, and intellect.
But many of them are neglecting one key piece.
Most everything you are seeing is absolutely accurate – but correspondingly meaningless – if you don’t take action. That is the missing ingredient in everyone’s “secret sauce.” The hard work, elbow grease, and determination it takes to get things done.
Every how-to list and prediction of trends assumes that the person reading it is ready to jump in and get things done. So remember that a key point of differentiation this year will be between those who talk and those who execute.
Here are the six crucial move for 2019 that can help you set your customer experience apart in the marketplace.
You need a lead customer service executive – and they need to be an expert coalition builder
It is more important than ever to have someone leading your guest experience mission and being your encourager-in-chief. Ideally this person will have a title something like Customer Experience Officer or Chief Customer Officer. But just creating a department and appointing a leader isn’t nearly enough. Listening to customers, team members, and the marketplace takes someone with a singular focus and a passion for the customer experience. That said, this leader will fail if customer service becomes siloed and doesn’t link in organizationally. That is why the person in this role needs a heart for service bolstered with a tenacious attitude and an ability to build relationships. Organizations who find success will embed service within all disciplines and departments, making it a bedrock part of organizational culture. This position must have a reporting structure that promotes access to the C-suite (and better yet, be a part of that executive leadership structure). Along with all of these qualities there must also be a personality that brings people together and isn’t easily discouraged. Building a customer-centric culture takes work – and is full of roadblocks and dead ends. It isn’t for someone looking for total decision rights and the ability to go it alone.
Customer service is a culture, not a work group.
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos said it very well: “Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.”
This is the natural continuation of the customer leadership piece above. Many businesses create a customer service department, pat themselves on the back, and then wonder why nothing changes. These departments are often disconnected from the rest of the organization and also from the customers they purport to service. Great service organizations create a culture where everyone is responsible for the customer experience and they understand how their particular role impacts guest satisfaction and organizational goals. The best to accomplish this is to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and that everyone embraces their role. Keeping the guest in mind when processes are created, utilizing design thinking, and looking at the things from the guest point of view will ensure that there is a smooth customer journey in place.
87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent experience Kampyle
Consistency is still king
While customers are looking for a superior product and amazing wow moments, they are also looking for brands they can trust. And above all, consistency is core to building trust. Think about the brand killing antics of those who have had food borne illness outbreaks or data breaches. Guests took a long time trust many of them again. Consistency takes on many forms, but really guests want to know what to expect. Sure, they love the occasional piece of surprise and delight – and it is a necessary part of keeping long term relationships strong – but never at the expense of buckling up the basics. That means the nitty gritty work like building processes that are actually used, validating execution, and touring your business with a critical eye. It means making sure that your customer facing locations are clean, organized, and professional, right down to little things like making sure there are no hand written signs in view.
Employee culture and guest experience are one and the same
Organizations are finally starting to wake up to the fact that customers are served by people. People with needs and feelings, just like the guests they are asked to serve. That sounds simple, but when you look at many organizations, you’ll find that there is a disconnect between how they say they treat their teams and how they actually do. The compelling language that is used during recruiting falls away against the cold reality of daily business. It is important to remember that culture is essentially how your team is going to act when no one is watching. And how you treat your team will influence how they treat customers. So treating them well – and that goes beyond just being nice – is a key way to ensure they want to do the right thing when it matters most. Treating them with respect is price of entry and something every leader should do – but look to recognition, giving them a sense of purpose, and helping them improve their skills as well. Can you create a place where people can share and be a part of the solution? This may sound like soft stuff, but remember this: your teams are closer to your guests than you are and they likely have solutions to problems you haven’t even considered yet. So listening to your team not only makes them feel involved, but contributes to customer satisfaction.
Don’t forget the human touch when you design your omnichannel experience
Omnichannel has become a customer service buzzword and everyone continues to talk about it as a linchpin of service success. It boils down to leveraging technology to make things easier for customers and making sure that all the communication channels interact with each other. Its easy enough to have a website, to offer chat support, and even SMS interactions, but do they enable your customers to have great experiences (and have you designed them to compliment each other)? Recently my dentist and my car dealership have started using SMS communication for appointments and reminders – and when I called my dentist in response to a text, they picked up where our conversation via text had left off. So understanding how your customers want to interact with technology is as important as the tech itself. Finally, consider the power of self service and its ability to satisfy customers. Customers are more apt than ever to check out online resources to accomplish their goals. Just remember that your content must be well organized and set up the way your customers think and in the order they may need it.
Its not enough to just listen to your customers, you have to take action
Most companies have some form of voice of the customer program in place. Those could be comment cards or online surveys, There are two important things to remember when it comes to guest surveys:
If you only seek out those who love you, then your results will be amazing but you won’t see loyalty or sales increase. You need to hear what is going well so you can continue it, but you must hear the negative so you can improve.
When it comes to customer feedback, it will be meaningless if you don’t take action on what you hear. That could be recognizing staff who deliver excellence or improving a process that is causing guest dissatisfaction. Either way, you will receive meaningful, actionable feedback from your surveys and comment cards – and its up to you to put it to use. Then let your customers know you were listening by communicating the improvements made based on their commentary.
So as the new year heats up, remember these 6 imperatives for success in 2019.
But also remember that without the will to execute upon them, there will be no impact. Its one thing to understand these trends, but quite another to take action upon them and deliver excellence – and that is where the pack will separate in 2019.
Tony Johnson, CCXP
Customer Service Leader | Author | Speaker