In over 30 years of research on customer service, New York Times Best-Selling Author and Customer Experience expert Shep Hyken has witnessed the same trend: customers want personalized service, and expect an easy, frictionless experience. The only difference today from three decades ago? Service organizations now have the technology and tools to make this possible. And customers know it.
Customers today aren’t just comparing your service to others in the same industry. They’re comparing your service to every other service experience they’ve had, including with companies like Uber, Amazon, and Zappos who have set the bar high. Hyken believes that customer experience is a philosophy that should be clearly defined and reinforced throughout service organizations. And companies that embrace customer service, will perform better.
Paul Whitelam, Group Vice President of Product Marketing at ClickSoftware, sat down with Hyken to discuss some customer service best practices. Here’s a recap of what we learned:
Knowledge is the first step to customer loyalty
When a technician is on a service visit, it’s likely the customer will have questions about the service. What’s wrong with my asset? How did it break? How are you fixing it? How can I avoid this?
If the service tech can’t answer any customer questions, the customer might question the ability of the tech to solve their problems. According to Hyken, “Knowledge creates credibility, credibility creates trust, and that leads to confidence, which leads to a loyal customer.”
Simply put, the customer feels more confident in their tech’s skills if they demonstrate knowledge. And that keeps the customer coming back for business.
While techs should have extensive knowledge of their trade, you can’t expect them to know everything. But you can make sure they have access to the right information at all times. Provide a knowledge management center, or a centralized repository of information, that techs can access on a mobile device.
Employee satisfaction drives customer satisfaction
Are you familiar with the golden rule? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, treat others the way you want to be treated.
Hyken introduces a new golden rule for how to treat employees: “Do unto your employees as you would have them do unto the customer.” Treat your employees the way you want them to treat their customers.
At the end of the day, people do business with people, not technology. Techs are often the only point of face to face interaction a field service company has with employees. If the tech is unhappy working at the company, it will likely affect their mood and engagement during service visits. Praise your techs when they’re performing well, and they should have more positive engagements with the customer.
Preparing your organization for a service-centric culture
Customer experience is undoubtedly crucial to all service businesses. But that doesn’t mean your organization must be as elite as Uber or Amazon. As long as you are consistent, predictable, and deliver on your promises, your customers will have great experiences. For example, if you go to a Ritz Carlton hotel, you can expect a completely different level of service than you would get at the Holiday Inn. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have a good stay at the Holiday Inn. As long as their service meets or exceeds expectations, your experience could be world class.
The leadership team needs to determine to what degree they want the organization to be customer focused, and create a culture around it. Here are some tips for getting started:
Clearly communicate vision
Once the leadership team decides on a customer service vision, they must make sure the entire organization is on board. Hyken says the message should be short, clear, and simple to digest. When communicating to your employees, avoid one page mission statements. Instead summarize your values into one sentence, or a couple of words if possible.
Reinforce training throughout the organization
When the entire company is aligned with the vision, you can start training. Companies often make the mistake of only training during onboarding or during a company-wide initiative. If the training is not reinforced, most people will forget everything within a few weeks. Instead, have an initial training to get everybody primed, and then spend five to 20 minutes on it every week or month so the training is ongoing.
Measuring Customer Feedback
The only way to learn if your company is delivering on customer experiences is by asking the customer. According to Hyken, the best customer feedback methods are as short as possible. Few people get excited about completing surveys, as it takes time out of their day. So ensure the survey only takes a minute or two to complete. He suggests using the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which are a simple 0-10 scale on how likely the customer is to recommend a company to a friend or colleague.
But creating the survey is only half the battle. Once you have a good set of questions, you still have to get feedback and uncover its value. Here are some tips:
According to Hyken, it’s best to send out the survey as close to the event as possible. The day after a service visit is the latest you should send it. This way, the service visit is fresh in the customer’s mind and they can provide you with the best possible feedback.
It’s also important to consider how you ask the customer to fill out the survey. If tell them you’ll be sending out a survey sometime after the visit, there’s a good chance they’ll never get to it. Instead, the tech should ask the customer directly, as they’re getting ready to leave the site. Explain that it would mean a lot if they would fill out the survey, and let them know how they can improve. And be sure to let them know it will only take a couple of minutes.
Monetize the Feedback
Finally, make sure you get value out of the scores. Don’t just look at the NPS numbers, but find out why the customer gave you that score. If the tech gets an eight, ask what it would take to get a nine. If they get a low score, find out what went wrong. Even if you get a 10, ask about one thing you could do to improve.
In today's competitive service world, simply being nice to customers doesn't cut it as customer service. To thrive, service organizations must fully commit to customer experience and leverage the technology that customers have come to expect.
For more customer service tips and trends, check out the ClickSoftware blog.