It seems like surveys are everywhere these days and after virtually every interaction customers are offered an opportunity to comment on their experience. Some organizations are so interested in getting feedback that they even offer money or gifts for customers’ valuable words of advice. But after the feedback is received, what do organizations do with it? And, how do they use the feedback in a strategic way to help shape their processes and the behaviors of their associates?
We know that feedback is one part of the equation, but what an organization does with the feedback and how they equip their associates to deliver on the expectations of the customer is what truly differentiates them from the competition. Companies who listen to their customers and respond to their feedback have a clear advantage over those who either don’t ask or ask but don’t respond. But truly world-class organizations diminish customer service problems and reduce the impact of those that happen through three simple tactics:
They empower their associates – organizations that understand their customer’s expectations and communicate those expectations to the associates who serve them have a clear advantage. When associates understand customer’s expectations, and are empowered to fix a problem ‘in the moment’ they demonstrate confidence in the company and their brand.
They define a specific recovery process – no matter how well an organization plans for enjoyable customer experiences sometimes things happen. Equipping teams with solutions for what to do when the unexpected occurs gives them confidence and ultimately allows them to better serve the customer.
They establish specific escalation guidelines – customers want a solution, and sometimes they are not satisfied talking to the person standing in front of them. It is important that customers are provided with phone numbers and names of leaders when they want to talk. Asking questions and listening goes a long way, and organizations that understand the value of proving customers with contact information to escalate an issue proves their commitment to service.
The combination of the three tactics above creates unique and differentiated experiences for everyone who makes a purchase, and for those who work there.
Why, you ask, does this matter? Should we do this just because “it’s the right thing to do?” That would be pleasing to those with a desire to serve, but that may not be enough to convince the C-suite to invest in trusting their associates.
The reality is that creating loyal customers has many benefits, including increased profits, and the numbers prove it. In “The Value of Customer Experience Quantified,” Harvard Business Review showed that "after controlling for other factors that drive repeat purchases in transaction-based businesses, customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.” These best experiences take time and effort to create and leaders of companies sometimes believe that the cost of investing in creating a customer experience is too risky or the ROI is not as transparent as other investments.
The reality is there is more expense in not doing anything. The data shows that unhappy customers cost more money as "they are likely to return products [aka “early terminate” in our world] or more likely to require support" but "delivering great experiences actually reduces the cost to serve customers from what it was previously.” Customer loyalty matters, but creating an intentional experience does not happy by accident.
Interested in learning how to create loyal customers for your organization? Click here to read the 7 Must-Haves for Effective Customer Service Programs.