2 Reasons Your Employees Are Failing at the Customer Experience

 

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You know your customer service is not where it needs to be. You know your employees aren’t delivering the level of service your customers expect and deserve. And this is keeping you up at night.

There are 2 reasons why your people are failing at the customer experience.

They aren’t establishing rapport with customers. And this is a big one. And, they aren’t in harmony with what your customers need and expect. Let’s take a look at the reasons agents fail at the customer experience, and explore what you can do about it. 

  1. They aren’t establishing rapport with customers

This morning I was monitoring calls for a contact center client; something I do often. Here’s how the Agent opened the call.


Customer: “Hi Bill. My name is Marley Robbins (not her real name), how are you?”

 

{Dead silence followed. Bill did not respond to Marley’s greeting. At all.}

 

After exactly 6 seconds, the customer picked up the conversation. Not the employee, the customer.

 

Customer: “I’m calling about…..”


 

Do you see the problem with this call? The Agent failed to acknowledge the customer; he failed to simply answer the question, “How are you?”

The customer was stunned. I could hear her shock in her silence and in the tone and guarded way she spoke for the remainder of the call. Not surprisingly, the call didn’t go well. Bill was rote, defensive about company “policy” and the customer became argumentative and eventually requested to speak with a supervisor.

 

How did we get to a place where exchanging a simple pleasantry is “too much” for an employee?

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Bill could have simply said, “I’m well. How nice of you to ask. How may I help you today?” Or something similar. A response like this would have completely changed the feel and outcome of that phone call.

What Bill failed to do, what Bill needed to do, was establish rapport. There are many elements to creating rapport; most of them incredibly simple to pull off, but one key way to create rapport is to engage the person in conversation.

You create rapport by having conversations with people. Not by having rote exchanges that could be done better by an IVR. If someone says hello, say hello. If someone asks you how are you are doing, for goodness sakes, answer the question!

 

  1. They aren’t in harmony with what the customer needs and expects

 

Bad Customer Service Makes You Sick

 

A great customer experience must meet 3 criteria.

  • Meet needs. The customer’s need(s) must be met.
  • Easy. You must be easy to do business with.
  • Enjoyable. To get to the level of great experiences, the experience must delight customers in a meaningful way.

 

A couple days ago I went to a grocery story to get fresh Brussels sprouts. That’s all I needed. I went to the produce section and I didn’t see Brussels sprouts. I asked an employee who was working in produce where I could find Brussels sprouts.

You know what she said to me? “If they’re not out here, we don’t have any or we haven’t put them out yet.”

And she turned around and continued to stock fresh corn on the cob. No friendliness. No offer to help me look for them. Certainly no intention on going to the back to see if they, indeed, had fresh Brussels sprouts.

“If they’re not out here, we don’t have any or we haven’t put them out yet.”

I literally had to pause and compose myself so that I would walk out of the store like a patient and dignified woman. But I was thinking, well, never mind what I was thinking.

This is a perfect example for harmony. Again, the 3 criteria for being in harmony are: Meeting needs, being easy to do business with and providing an enjoyable experience. Here’s how this store measured up:

Meets needs. Nope. I had one need. Brussels sprouts. I’ve gotten them at this store before, but this day they were out. My needs were not met.

Easy. Parking and getting into (and out of) the store was easy. Finding an employee was easy. So, yes, the experience was easy.

Enjoyable. Uh, no. The one interaction I had with an employee made me pause and think negative thoughts. I didn’t enjoy an employee not making an effort to look for Brussels sprouts. She didn’t smile at me and she didn’t seem concerned about my needs. She didn’t even pretend to care. This was not enjoyable.

This grocery store was not in harmony. You have to meet at least 2 of the 3 criteria to be a candidate for harmony. Obviously, the goal is to meet all 3 of the criteria for harmony.

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(I went to a natural grocery store and got my Brussels sprouts.)

 

You can fail to meet a customer’s needs and still provide a great customer experience. Whole Foods did this for me.

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Right before Thanksgiving I was looking for Arrow Root Powder. I went to Whole Foods. I thought Arrow Root Powder was a spice, so I went to the spice aisle. The store was crazy busy. Employees were running, serving and working. There was a man on a high ladder on the spice aisle. I couldn’t find Arrow Root, but I didn’t dare ask him for help because he was 15 feet in the air.

After a few seconds, though, the man looked down from the ladder and said, “Can I help you find something ma’am?” He then climbed down from the ladder and helped me look. When we couldn’t find it, he took me to not one, but two other sections in the store. We still couldn’t find it. He urged me to come back tomorrow afternoon, as a truck was due to arrive later that day.

I didn’t get my needs met that day at Whole Foods, but the experience was enjoyable, because one employee took the time to talk to me and try to help me. The experience was also easy. Whole Foods was in harmony, by meeting 2 of the 3 criteria. I give Whole Foods an A+ for the customer experience based on the one employee I spoke with.

Note: It turns out Arrow Root is a powder and it is in the baking section. I discovered that on my second visit. Now I know.

Position your employees to create rapport with customers through conversations and engagement. Fiercely focus your customer experience on meeting needs, being easy and enjoyable. When you do, your company will be well on the way to delivering consistently great customer interactions.


 

Now you can get even more tips for the telephone call flow! Sign up for my free on-demand webinar and learn 4 ways to establish rapport with callers, discover Disney’s “3 o-clock Parade” strategy and see what Gumby can teach you about the telephone customer experience. Watch this 60-minute video now or share it with your employees.

 

 

Getting to know your customers….Casino Style!

We know how frequently they [customers] come, what they play, and we follow up with continuous communication over the phone, direct mail and e-mail and on our Web site. It allows us to be participatory rather than reactive.

 Phil Satre, Former CEO, Harrah’s Entertainment

The more you know about your customers, the better you can serve and sell to them. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) helps companies understand and influence customer behavior and positions them to proactively anticipate customer needs and exceed their expectations, rather than passively responding to customer needs.

In an interview with USA Today, Phil Satre, former CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment discussed the company’s loyalty program, which is driven by their high-tech CRM solutions:

Suppose we sign up a new customer in Atlantic City. He lives hundreds of miles from the casino and plays $50 in a nickel slot machine over two hours. We know that person is a casual gambler who just happens to be in Atlantic City.

However, if he lives in (nearby) Philadelphia and plays $500 on a sophisticated slot machine, our predictive model says he is a lucrative customer, who probably wandered in from the competition. Within a week, we have a thank-you to his home and an offer customized by our technology and expertise to bring him back.

We have them fill out enrollment forms by offering them rewards. Then we give them a card that tracks their play. We require basic information such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses. If they want, they can give us more information, such as if they like Italian food.

The more you know about your customers, the better positioned you are to create superior value and build loyal relationships with them. A CRM solution may be just what you’re looking for to help you learn more about your customers in order to sell more to your customers.