CATEGORY: Customer Service
A few months ago, I organized an event for work, which required me to work with a vendor. Days before the event, I spoke with the owner and gave all the information needed – location and address of the venue, where to park, dress code, identification required, and where to set up the equipment. He confirmed everything and gave me the names of the staff I should expect to see on the morning of the event.
The day came and as early as 7am, I received an SMS from his staff asking where the venue is nearby. I texted the owner and said, “your staff is asking me information I already gave you. Handle it please.” After about half an hour, the venue coordinator called and said the vendor was asking her something technical she could not decide on.
I called the owner and said, why is your staff asking the venue coordinator things they would not know of? I reminded him that I gave him all the information he needed, nothing more, nothing less. And I still had a million things to do. He apologized for the confusion and said he will talk to his team.
He called back and told me confidently, “my boys are just DOUBLE-CHECKING to make sure everything is correctly set up.” I replied – “No, they were not double checking. They were asking things that they shouldn’t be asking in the first place if they had the information we discussed previously. I’m trying to be efficient about this set-up and I got you as the vendor because you are the expert in what you do, not me, not the venue coordinator.” He was silent for a moment then replied, “Ok so I will tell my boys to not double-check with you anymore.”
Breathe In. Breathe Out. I realized that morning, how people grossly abused the term, DOUBLE-CHECK.
According to Merriam-Webster, to Double-check means to check (something) again in order to be certain.
Last evening, the restaurant staff handed me my bill and said, “Kindly double check”. My left brain asked my right brain – ‘how can I double-check if I’m only about to check the bill now?’
Why do we say ‘double-check’, when what we mean is to simply ‘check’? Does it make us look more hardworking when we say ‘double-check’? Using it in a customer service context makes it worse, in my opinion. To say you will double-check does not give any more assurance to the customer when you are trying to solve his or her problem. The last time I called my telecom provider to ask some irregularity in my bill. Immediately, the agent said, “let me double-check”. My soul screamed silently –‘What is there to double-check when you’re about to check it for the first time now?’
In customer service, language is very important. Words used must be precise and deliberate because they strike a cord in your customers’ emotions, especially in customer recovery situations. Say ‘double-check’ when you are going to verify something again. It could even be a cross-check done by another personnel. In replying to your customer, there’s nothing wrong in saying, “Let me check on this now…”
There’s this charming little book I picked up in India many years ago called “The Ice Cream Maker” by Subir Chowdhury. I learned about the principle of “getting it right the first time” and the value this mindset for quality brings to an entire organization.
If we aim to get things right the first time, then that’s real efficiency and there won’t be a need to double-check or triple-check, right?
Image source: jaywalkingbackwards
Getting customer feedback puts us on the spot. We’re in crosshairs of other people’s expectations. When we receive customer feedback, we’re forced to multitask; we have to acknowledge and assess the complaint; pinpoint the problem; and if possible, troubleshoot the customer’s situation; and if it can’t be solved with troubleshooting, appease the dissatisfied customer to ensure his/her return with the promise that the next experience will match the customer’s now verbalized expectations.
The feedback may be directed at you; it may be about a front-liner; it may be in the form of an email about your ad campaign; and it could be something less in your control like your supplier’s behavior or hygiene.
Handling feedback is a complex job that can be over in a matter of minutes, the speed of which can trigger a fight/flight/freeze response. In this case, we are pressured to act in self-defense, or acting to “take care of it” without thinking. Or it could cause us to “freeze,” and stand speechless, unable to do anything, annoying an irate customer further.
The unfortunate fact is we have been trained to see customer reviews as negative criticism. But this is a point of view that should be corrected, if you wish to handle customer feedback with the best in the business. (more…)
CATEGORY: Customer Service
I usually don’t talk about my work with our clients because of confidentiality, but I felt inspired to share my thoughts about a recent experience working with one of the largest, and most respected Filipino-owned companies in the Philippines.
While most companies would still approach Customer Experience as an abstract concept — in theory, a priority, yet unclear how to go about it– here was a company who has been laying down the foundations for some time, as they have been listening to their customers using means readily accessible. They believe in having a seamless and consistent end-to-end customer experience journey and to break silos, which are barriers to achieving this.
When I was first called for a meeting 6 months ago, I was surprised with the volume of work the team had put together, they have identified over 700 different touchpoints, which could be part of a roadmap towards achieving excellent customer experience. The customer research work SatisFIND contributed was only a small part of a large initiative led by this team, which had the full support of the company’s president.
What I have observed working with them leading to an important workshop yesterday where results and proposed action plans were presented to the President and Executive team for approval validated my belief that building a customer-centric culture can only be led from the top.
I attended yesterday’s workshop as an observer and presenter for a small part of the research done. Kaiz joined me and we were the only “outsiders” in that session. The workshop started with a prayer – being in the Philippines, a very religious Catholic nation, this is not really a surprise. A video was played and with the prayer being recited out loud by everyone in the room, I was overcome with emotion because it was a heartfelt prayer of gratitude and hope for its customers, employees, its suppliers, and the government. I found this to be a profound reflection of the very core of the company.
After an energetic and highly engaging 5 hours, the commitment to deliver excellent customer experience has been sealed. The work has just begun for the team and the next 6 months will be more challenging than ever.
As the president gave his closing message where he mentioned the value of taking care of the company’s frontliners in order to take care of their customers, I looked at everyone in the room and felt proud to have been a silent witness to this, I felt optimistic about the future of customer experience in the Philippines and I felt proud to be Filipino.
This was a realization of SatisFIND’s purpose. These were the moments I live for.
Customer service may not be in every business plan, but it should be. Whether you’re putting up a new business or are entering a new phase of your business like franchising, expansion or specialization, assessing your customer relationship or procedure is essential.
The way customers feel is the second most important take-away of every transaction. Because after appreciating the value of your product or service, you want them to return. How you get them to return will depend on letting them know you appreciate their business as much as they do yours.
Beginning a Customer Experience Measurement Program is definitely a worthwhile investment to be able to efficiently and effectively improve your brand’s customer service experience. Engaging in Customer Experience Measurement (CEM) is undertaking an important process improvement, and the last thing you want is to waste this opportunity. For the uninitiated, there ARE ways to do so.
PITFALL #1: Having a Questionable Questionnaire
Your questionnaire is the metric the Customer Experience Advocates (CEAs) will be basing their evaluation on when they visit and assess a customer environment. Since this plays such an integral role to CEM, each item needs to be properly thought through. Here are 3 guidelines you should keep in mind:
- Revisit your own standards – Your customer service standards (as trained to your employees) should serve as the basis for creating the parameters of your questionnaire. One cannot fault a front-liner for not following a standard he or she was never trained to do or know. At the same time, this would be a good time to ask the hard-hitting questions like Are all of these standards realistic? Are they enforced? Are any of them no longer relevant? What delights my customer? What irritates them?
- Make sure that what you WANT to measure NEEDS to be measured – You want the CEAs to be operating along the lines of a typical visit and act like auditors aside from being customers. They should spend an amount of time in the establishment that is similar or close to the time they would’ve spent if they just went there as a regular customer. Hence, parameters like those that ask them to count the number of light bulbs in the store should be avoided unless absolutely necessary to the objectives of the study.
- Have clear rating scales – You want to be very specific about the things you want measured. Stay away from rating scales like VERY BAD, BAD… GOOD, VERY GOOD since the difference between GOOD and VERY GOOD is relative. Use rating scales that are very specific such as:
Select the highest rating that meets all the criteria:
5 – Staff was friendly, made eye contact, asked/used your name to address you, and engaged you in a small talk.
4 – Staff was friendly and made eye contact but did not speak to you beyond taking your order.
3 – Staff did not make eye contact or did not smile.
2 –Staff was distracted and not focused on taking your order.
1 – Staff appeared irritated or was abrasive.
- Make sure qualitative data is captured – Give spaces in the questionnaire for CEAs to answer questions in their own words, especially about their impressions of the customer touchpoint. This will paint an overall picture and give some context for the quantitative data collected.
PITFALL #2: Being Price-Oriented More Than Results-Oriented When Selecting a Customer Experience Measurement Program
Always keep in mind that CEM is an investment that will enable you to give your customers a memorable and pleasant experience that will lead to the growth of your business. If you tend to keep cutting corners in CEM, you will most likely not get the effect that you want.
Be sure to work closely with your CEM Agency to come up with a package that will get the job done without compromising the quality of your study. The last thing you want is to save a handful but lose the entire value of the investment in doing so. Ask yourself these questions: Do they just collect compliance information (such as “is the staff wearing a nametag? Yes/No”)? How do they assess the customer’s general level of satisfaction? How are results presented? Are recommendations made? Is support given to help you implement the recommendations? What kind of support?
PITFALL #3: Tackling The Results and Not The Problem
If you want to know the truth, make sure you can HANDLE the truth. When the results and assessments are out, be sure that you and your teams greet them with an open mind and not be defensive. Reassure them that this is not a blame game but rather an opportunity to identify what can and needs to be improved on in order to grow the business. No one should feel attacked during the results presentation as defensive employees are not in the proper mindset to make improvements.
A good customer experience measurement program is implemented by an agency with years of experience helping their clients deal with these issues. They should provide you with guidelines and support to help you prepare the team. With everyone in the proper mindset, you will be on your way to making your CEM investment pay off with increased traffic, stronger brand loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth sentiments.