Although most of us can’t readily remember doing business 50 years ago, it’s not hard to imagine a world of companies that were smaller and more personable. Regular customers walked into shops only to be welcomed by the owners who knew them by name. But globalization and the expansion of businesses has led to a much less personal customer experience, whether dealing with a nameless conglomerate or a well-known brand. Some organizations don’t know the names of their employees, let alone their customers. But no matter which industry you’re in, customers are vital. And they want you to do better. While they might not expect to walk into a shop on a main street in their town for every transaction, they have come to expect more personal experiences from businesses. For businesses interested in continued growth and prosperity, it’s time to optimize your offerings to meet these expectations.
In the field service industry, the technician that visits the customer is often the only human to human (H2H) contact that the organization has with their customers. This increases the pressure on field service professionals to provide exceptional customer service and ensure that they represent their brand well.
April 20 is ‘Get to Know Your Customers Day,’ and it’s the perfect reminder to reflect on how well you know your customers, and whether you are offering the best customer service possible. But how can an organization get to know their customers with so little face-to-face contact? Here are four ways that you can get to know your customers better:
1. Stop Fearing Social Media
Social media has taken the world by storm, and given the anonymous—and sometimes angry–customer a voice and a megaphone. This has been scary for many businesses, but leading ones realize how to leverage these channels for greater engagement. If customers can engage with businesses to voice their experiences—whether good or bad—organizations can interact with customers quickly and easily to either rectify the issue or publicize good reviews.
With recent high profile customer service incidents highlighting organizations that are failing their customers, it’s even more important that organizations focus on social media. Consider the United Airline incident, for instance. The video of a passenger being dragged off a flight was reposted on Twitter more than 170,000 times (in addition to mass circulation on television, news outlets, YouTube, and Facebook). Not so long ago, Spirit Airlines decided to ‘hug their haters’ in order to rebuild their reputation with what was a cheeky and yet extremely successful campaign.
Even though social media can spread a bad reputation, it is also an opportunity to engage in a two-way dialogue with your customers. It’s a way to quickly address their concerns, provide technical support, and most importantly, make them feel heard.
2. Ask for Their Feedback
There’s no better way to find out what customers want than to ask them directly. How are you going to solve their problems if you don’t understand the issue?
Ask customers for a company review or feedback after they have been visited by their technician. This way you can learn what your team is doing well, and what the customers want to be improved. It’s also good practice to request feedback immediately after service, while the details are still fresh in their minds.
Few people get excited about completing surveys, so keep them short, straightforward, and simple. Ask one question at a time, and avoid jargon that could confuse the customer. To get richer answers, avoid yes or no questions. Instead, ask questions like “how much” or “how likely” and include a response scale.
But don’t stop at asking. Make sure you ask questions that help you uncover issues or strengths with the service call, and avoid questions that don’t have a purpose. If the feedback leads to actionable information and you can then inform the customers of their impact, you will have shown that you do care and pay attention.
3. Give Them the Tools to Engage with You
Offering customers better tools for communication between them and field service techs, support staff, and your company will empower the customer and improve their experience. For instance, enable your customers to easily schedule a service appointment or even send photos of their issues. Send customers notifications about their service status, the location and arrival time of their technician, and any other relevant details. Keep them updated throughout the service process in real time to provide transparency and accountability that will boost their trust in your business.
With self-service sites, applications, or other tools tailored customer engagement you can learn more about your customer’s service preferences, tailor each visit specifically to the customer, and give them more personalized experiences.
4. Learn How to Make Your Customers Better, Not Just Happier
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is helping fuel a renewed interest in customer experience, although some businesses are still seeing it in short-sighted and strictly monetary terms. While proving convenience, transparency, and of course exceptional service is quickly becoming table stakes, businesses also have the opportunity to invest in their customers’ success. Whether it is providing training or online resources to enable more self-service, rewarding them for providing testimonials, or inviting them to share their ideas, their value to your business can be manifested and measured in more ways than purchases or recurring subscription fees.
Customers are the beating heart of an organization, and every single customer needs to feel as though they are the only one. If an organization improves its communication with customers, they can provide a service that is especially tailored to each customer, which will increase customer loyalty and satisfaction in both the long and short term.