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The 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer conducted by Echo Research for American Express found that 66 percent of consumers are willing to spend more money at businesses they feel provide top-notch customer service. The study also found that 55 percent of consumers cancelled imminent plans to do business with a company after experiencing bad customer service.
Harry Gordon Selfridge, the founder of the Selfridges department stores in the U.K., is most often credited with coining the phrase “the customer is always right.”. French Hotelier Cesar Ritz coined the similar phrase “le client n’a jamais tort” (the customer is never wrong). Those concepts are great in theory and are timeless to a certain extent. But these men were dealing with early 20th century consumers as opposed to the omnichannel generation with smartphones and tablets today.
These three tips will help your company improve customer satisfaction and subsequently its profits in today’s global, digital marketplace.
Treat Employees Like Customers
Gordon Bethune, the former CEO of Continental Airlines, is most famous for his book “From Worst To First.” It describes how he took Continental from its second Chapter 11 bankruptcy in less than 15 years to winning several JD Power & Associates customer satisfaction awards in a matter of 24 months.
Bethune rolled out his four-point plan known as “Go Forward” in 1994. A major part of it was changing the company culture as it pertained to employees. Bethune conceded there will be a few unreasonable, unruly people his employees will encounter when over 3 million customers per month flew the airline. He wrote in his book that buying a ticket did not give customers the right to revile his employees. There comes a point when a customer is lost and that is when company loyalty shifts from the customer to the employee who works hard everyday. Bethune believes this small act of trust between company executives and front line workers was key in turning Continental around.
Employees who feel they are valued contributors are more likely to convey all aspects of company culture when dealing with customers. Just as you would react quickly to an unsatisfied customers, employees should be given the same respect when voicing internal concerns. Symantec and Rackspace, for instance, use tools like the Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) by Satrix to gauge satisfaction and reduce turnover. The data derived from a system like this can help pinpoint problems causing dissatisfaction, as it allows honest, anonymous feedback on various topics. These types of surveys also show employees that you value their opinions.
The 2014 Digital Consumer Report by Nielsen found that 65 percent of Americans now own a smartphone, up from 44 percent in 2011. Further, the 2013 GE Capital Major Purchase Shopper Study found that 81 percent of consumers do research online before buying. Companies that are set up to address the needs of today’s tech-savvy consumer are ahead of the curve and likely enjoying the results of their quarterly profit reports.
A great way to improve customer service and potentially increase revenues simultaneously is utilizing a live chat platform on your website. When customers are researching a product, a pop-up window can appear on your website which gives them a way to instantly communicate with your company.
Offer customers a way to call and speak to someone at your company. Some customers are fine with email correspondence, while other want to hear a voice. Cloud-based customer contact solutions like Zipwire make it easy for any company to both field inbound calls and do outbound marketing campaigns without land telephone lines and physical telephones. All you need is Internet and headsets, and your company instantly has the same capabilities of a large call center.
Hire The Right People
Chick-fil-A, Amazon, and Trader Joe’s have one very important thing in common. They are all featured in the Top 10 of both the 2014 24/7 Wall St. Customer Service Hall Of Fame and the 2014 Temkin Customer Service Ratings (TSCR). One of the primary reasons for this is that these companies only hire people they feel are a fit for their overall company culture.
Customers want knowledgeable front line workers and first-call resolution above anything else from a company. This entails cordial greetings (preferably by name for regulars) when a customers calls or enters your establishment, and the ability to listen and solve problems. When hiring customer service professionals, they should have experience on their resumes, but more importantly they should be coachable and trainable. Consider using a recruiting tool like Broadbean to connect with employees that would be a good fit for your company.
Customer Experience Insight, which is subscribed to by over 155,000 human resource and marketing executives, recommends testing a candidate’s ability to learn and retain information during the interview process. Take note of how many times they ask “why” or “can you elaborate further.” This shows they are interested in soaking up as much knowledge about the company as possible. It’s also a good idea to refer back to a talking point previously spoken of in the interview. The candidate’s ability to recall information shows that they have good listening skills, which is of course vital when dealing with customers.
Customers simply want to feel good about themselves and their interaction with your company. Executives who recognize this and take action will reap the benefits in the end.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.