I provide a seminar on customer service, and have a keynote presentation called The Customer Never Forgets. I have studied customer service, read a lot about customer service, and written quite a bit on customer service.
But more than anything else, I am a customer. Constantly. Practically every day. Increasingly, my customer experiences are on-line. And most of these experiences are fully what I hoped – one-click, fully satisfied little miracles. I click my mouse, and my product shows up on my doorstep two days later. Wonderful!
But occasionally, not so wonderful…
Recently, a disappointing customer experience, which cost me a little embarrassment and about one hour of my time, which was completely the fault of the company providing the service because of a mistake by one of their people, made me think a little more about this whole “how do we provide a better customer experience?” question.
So here is a snapshot of my latest thoughts..
In my training, I state that all customer experience boils down to two critical elements: be nice, and, be competent. I am convinced that if a company provides both of these, they will, in fact, keep their customers coming back. If the product or service is what the customer wants, and the interaction between the company representative and the customer is nice and hassle free, you’ve got a real winner on your hands. (We’ll leave it for another discussion about what happens when a competitor has a “better” product or service to offer. That is a different issue).
If you force me to choose, I will take competence over nice. If the product or service is exactly what I want, and I can’t get it anywhere else for less, I will take a slight absence of “nice.” Nice without competence does not satisfy – I need to be able to rely on the product or service more than I need someone to treat me in a nice way. But, give me both, nice and competent, and I am happiest.
But the real moment of truth is when there is a problem; a “mistake; a “disappointment.” When the company messes up, this is the acid test. And when I call to say, “you have made a mistake,” the first thing I want is “empathy,” then I want it fixed. I am not happy if it is fixed first. And, no matter how nice the person is, after I sense empathy, if it is not then fixed, I am not happy.
Consider this as a way to think about providing that better customer experience:
|If I need a precise product||The company provides it, with no hassles||I am happy|
|If I need a product, but don’t know exactly what I need||The company suggests the right item/solution – I get it, try it, like it||I am happy|
|The company messes up||The representative of the company tries to fix it, but without empathy (including a genuine “I’m sorry”), before they then fix it||I am not happy|
|The company messes up||The representative of the company is really empathetic, but does not “fix it” well||I am not happy|
|The company messes up||The representative is genuinely empathetic, then fixes it||I am happy|
So – Empathy first, fix it second. This is what I need when a company messes up. And without that empathy first, I am not happy – and might look for an alternative.
I have recently presented synopses of two terrific books related to customer service excellence. One is Demand: Creating What People Love Before They Know They Want It by Adrian J. Slywotzky. This book is terrific on the issue of removing hassles. And people really do not like hassles!
The other is Prescription for Excellence: Leadership Lessons for Creating a World-Class Customer Experience from UCLA Health System by Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. Michelli is a superior observer, and he is especially good at pulling out insights that you can transfer into your own arena.
Both of these books are worth reading. And, you can purchase my synopsis of these books, with audio + comprehensive handout, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.
And, if you are interested in bringing my customer service training, or my keynote presentation, into your company or organization, click the “hire us” tab.