Updated: Sep 1
We all need direction and a place to start.
Customer Experience (CX) can seem complicated and daunting - and I've spent my career working to make it easy to understand and even easier to scale through businesses, no matter the size, complexity, or geography.
Denis Phillips is a staple in central Florida and great at simplifying the complex weather events we deal with during hurricane season. Last year we had Ian roll through central Florida and just this week Idalia made landfall.
Phillips has 7 rules that governs his approach to dealing with severe weather and this helps his audience understand these often dangerous events. His famous Rule #7: "Stop Freaking Out Until I Tell You To. We’re Fine" helps us all stay calm. Here is the link to his full set of Hurricane Rules if you want to take a look.
Now this is the reason everyone watches this guy on ABC Action News WFTS Tampa Bay and listens to his daily reports on social media. He isn’t a fear monger and he doesn't hype things up for the ratings. He shoots it straight, never shows b-roll video of empty shelves and zombies eating children. He is a pro, stays calm, and so if he tells you to head for high ground, that’s your starting pistol.
I have found great value in being straight forward and clear with organizations as I help them to craft and create their customer experience and hospitality strategy.
Check out my latest virtual program, The 6 Canons of Customer Service. Use promo code SUNSHINE23 to take 15% off.
Over the last decade, working with every size organization to craft and deploy their CX strategies, I have developed my ten CX guiding principles. They always deliver excellence.
Tony's 10 Customer Experience Rules
Take great care of your people so they will take care of your customers Your employees are the face of your brand, and their actions and attitudes directly impact the customer experience. Invest in your employees, provide them with the training and support they need, recognize their great work, and create a positive work environment. How you treat your team will determine how they treat your customers, and that will be their perception of your brand.
Keep your customers at the center of everything you do to create personalized experiences: Whether you call them customers, guests, students, patients, fans, passengers, or visitors, they should always be the main focus of your business. Keep their needs and expectations in mind when making decisions, and constantly seek ways to improve their experience along the customer journey. This also means looking for ways customize experiences for customers that feel curated "just for them." Customers like chances to personalize, make choices, and feel like you really know them. This could be as simple as remembering names or preferences, or knowing your customer persona well enough to offer options that speak to each of them in different ways.
Look past sales to provide solutions that solve problems Customers are not just looking for a product or service, they are looking for a solution to a problem. Your job as a business is to understand their needs and provide them with a solution that not only meets their needs but exceeds their expectations. People love to do business with those who make their lives easier and solve their problems.
The basics never go out of style. Be safe, be polite, and never forget to smile The foundational basics of hospitality are often seen as rudimentary and price of entry. But think about how often businesses you frequent drop the ball on the fundamentals - frustrating isn't it? Build a culture of safety, friendliness, empathy, and positivity. As simple as it sounds starting with a smile and ending with a thank you can go a long way toward building loyalty.
Customers aren’t always right, but you want them to always be your customer While customers may not always be right, it's important to listen to their concerns and do your best to resolve any issues they may have. By showing that you value their opinions, and are willing to work with them, you can maintain a positive relationship and keep them as customers. Too often we are more worried about being right than protecting the relationship, and that is short sighted in today's competitive marketplace.
Eliminate hassles and ridiculous policies whenever you can Hassles and silly policies can be a major source of frustration for customers. Identify and eliminate any unnecessary obstacles in the customer journey, and make it as easy as possible for customers to interact with your brand. One place to target is the amount of information you ask for from customers. Think about that too-long survey that took forever or the stack of papers you fill out every time you go to the doctor (even though you've filled them out before). These types of frustrations stick with customers and influence their buying decisions.
Your company brand is a promise you make to your customers – live up to it Make sure your brand represents the values and qualities you stand for, and always deliver on your promise to customers. That means that your team must understand what type of experience you are trying to provide and how they can contribute. Thinking back to the fundamentals, employees must understand how their daily behaviors contribute to the success of customers and the business. When they are crystal clear and you take the time to reward great behaviors, you will find that your team is much more likely to execute on the vision and values of your organization.
If you walk by a problem, you endorsed it As a leader, you are responsible for addressing any issues that arise in the customer experience. If you walk by a problem, you are essentially endorsing it, and the customer experience will suffer as a result. Remember that your employees are watching your behaviors and when you model what you expect, your team will take notice. Be proactive in addressing any issues and encourage your team to solve problems in the moment as well.
Issues and opportunities may not be your fault, but are still your problem Even if an issue or opportunity is not your fault, it is still your problem as a business to take action on them. So often customer issues may be about perception or about things potentially out of your control. For example, it may not be your fault that the delivery company you used is running late, but the customer on the phone is counting on you to fix it. Take ownership, be creative, and find ways to make it right - or at least lessen the overall impact.
It doesn’t matter how smart you think you are, your customers will tell you if you’re right by spending money with you (and then doing it again and telling their friends) At the end of the day, the most important metric of success is the customer's experience. If customers are happy with the service and product you provide, they will become loyal customers and will continue to spend with you over the long term (aka customer Lifetime Value). If you really deliver consistently, your customers will become advocates and even recommend and defend you to others. That kind of word-of-mouth marketing is powerful, just ask Disney, Chick-fil-A, and Ritz Carlton.
Bonus Tip: Never forget that it only takes 10% more to set yourself apart Often organizations are convinced that it takes herculean efforts and insanely over the top service to build a reputation as a world class service organization. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, do the big stuff, but never forget that the simple things such as opening a door for someone, staying open a few minutes later for a guest, suggesting an option a customer had not thought of, or fixing an issue in the moment will build your reputation as a CX powerhouse as well. Deliver really great service most of the time and find ways to give just a little bit more - and you will build long lasting relationships with your customers.
Like every set of guidelines, these are fluid based on the current state of the market and what customers value most at this point in time. They are a snapshot that can help us dial in the customer journey and design experiences that build loyalty and advocacy.
Using these guidelines you can craft experiences that will grow your sales and help position you as a leader in your industry.
The current state of our economy is pushing consumers to evaluate their purchasing behaviors, and often that is about price. To help insulate you from becoming a price based, commodity style decision, now is the time to prioritize the overall customer experience.
Afterall, what better way to become the brand that customers love and where the best talent wants to work.
Tony is an award winning speaker and author on the topics of sales growth, customer experience, and leadership. Tony speaks to thousands annually and has been featured on ABC News and Fox News. He is available for business planning, motivational keynotes, leadership workshops, and employee service skills training.
Tony is the founder of Ignite Your Service and the Chief Experience Officer for 4xi Global Consulting.
Tony is available to help with your Customer Experience and Employee Engagement Strategies, inspirational keynote talks, team training and development, and executive leadership coaching.