Providing an exceptional client experience is an executive buzz phrase, but how does it translate into reality on the front line?
Despite the fact that creating a positive environment for customers is essential to fostering loyalty, retaining patrons and generating referrals, in some cases the client experience centres more around lip-service than actual customer service.
The larger the company, the more difficult it can be to grasp the level of service delivered. Executives may see the results from one lens, whereas the customers may see it from another.
A former executive from a telecommunications company was sharing with me how the company’s defining value proposition was the high level of customer service it provides. Meanwhile, I’d just spent hours on the phone trying to solve some challenges with the company and was questioning how they defined customer service.
For small to mid-sized business owners and one-person companies, it’s easier for us to realize the actual customer service experience because we’re delivering it. But even then, do we really go out of our way to manage it?
Regardless of the size of business, understanding and developing a positive client experience starts with a shift in our perspective to see the situation through the client’s eyes.
What are the clients’ expectations? What are their concerns? What are the emotions tied with making a buying decision? What could we do that will annoy the customer? What interaction, positive or negative, has the client had with the competition?
By looking at the process through the client’s eyes, it’s easier to understand why customers react the way they do and how to manage the process to maximize the opportunities to connect positively.
It will also help you to identify when an unhappy customer can or cannot be saved. The question is, “If something does go wrong, how much effort do you put into making an unhappy customer happy?” At what point do you just let them go? If you do decide to let them go, the important point is to ensure they’re leaving you with a positive opinion on how you handled the situation to mitigate the negative effect on your company’s brand.
Recently I had a terrible shopping experience. Once the purchase was complete, it was clear what I bought was going to have a problem. The financial investment was significant, several thousand dollars.
As time went on and more problems occurred, the bitterness for having spent the money on poor quality intensified. I’m sure for the supplier, the frustration of having everything that could go wrong go wrong with one customer is equally annoying.
Unfortunately for the supplier, I can’t help but share the story of the gong show that has transpired, which is why I question the protocols for customer service. Realistically, they could never earn me back as a client, but why didn’t they try to neutralize the situation?
Is it the customer’s responsibility to not share negative, albeit factual, stories about a retail store? Or is it the company’s responsibility to be sure unhappy customers are, at the very least, left with a positive spin on the story to share? Which begs the question, is the story about the poor quality of the products or the frustration caused by the inability of the company to solve the problems?
The challenge to a company is that an unsatisfied customer is not just venting a story, but rather, pursuing what one feels is an obligation to protect others from having the same negative experience.