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.

 

 

I took my client on a field trip to the Apple store today – Customer Experience Design Strategy

Barnes and Noble Field Trip 2

This morning I took a team from one of my client’s branches on a field trip. We’re working to create the best possible customer experience in my client’s organization and I believe one way to achieve this goal is to learn from the best. So, I got everyone out of the office and we went to the Apple store and Barnes and Noble.

Before the fieldtrip, I gave the team a list of questions and observation points so that we’d make the most productive use of our time. At the Apple store, my team observed greeting upon store entrance, analyzed employee interactions and even got to see an Apple employee eloquently handle a not so happy customer. After the fieldtrip, we met in a circle in the mall and discussed our observations and explored ways they can take back some great ideas and adopt and apply them in their organization.

Apple store field trip

We left Apple and headed across the street to Barnes and Noble. The people at Barnes and Noble were so gracious and allowed us to explore, take up a lot of space, meet to discuss our observations and they even let us take photos. My team really walked away with a lot of customer service insights from Barnes and Noble.

Barnes and Noble Field trip

I love what I do! It’s great to make customer experience training and consulting hands-on, relevant and even fun.

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The biggest problem with the customer experience in most companies is how employees talk to customers. All too often, employees come across as indifferent, cold, uncaring, rushed or rude. This employee “attitude problem” can be the tipping point that sends customers to the competition. This attitude problem is what drives customers to tweet and blog about a poor customer experience. The great news is, with the right training, monitoring and coaching, employees can learn how to soften tones, truly convey empathy, make customers feel taken care of and even make memorable personal emotional connections with customers.

Watch 15-minutes of How to Talk to Customers

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The Beyond WOW Customer Experience

The explosive ideas in this book will help you go beyond the WOW experience to build, repair, and grow customer relationships. 

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by Myra Golden and Dr. Jeffrey Magee

“From the first page I was taken in!” 

“Beyond WOW is a powerful tool for those of us who work with customers on a day-to-day basis. 

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We all want to feel known: “The Norm Principle of Customer Service”

We all want to feel known by Myra Golden
We all want to feel known, a photo by Myra Golden on Flickr.

I sit down with all of my clients before a keynote address and I ask them to define 3 things they want the audience to walk away with after my keynote. Yesterday I sat down with the CEO of a Chicago company and listened with great fascination as he described his top 3 take-aways from my presentation. He called one of his take-aways the “Norm Principle.” The “Norm Principle,” he said, is from the sitcom “Cheers.”

CEO: “You remember Cheers, don’t you, Myra?”

Me: “Of course I do.”

CEO: “When Norm walked into the bar, everyone knew his name. People looked up and acknowledged him when he walked in. The bartender already knew what he was drinking. Norm was ‘known.’ That’s the main idea I want you to get across in your keynote. Everybody wants to feel known. Everybody wants to feel welcome. I want the audience to go out and make their customers feel ‘known.’”

I LOVE the Norm Principle! The CEO was right on target and what a memorable concept: the Norm Principle. I will deliver that charge to my audience when I speak at my client’s conference this fall. In the meantime, I challenge you to work to make your customers feel KNOWN. How do you make customers feel known? Consider the following example from Starbucks.

Last year when I pulled up at the Starbucks drive-thru, the employee said, “Good morning. Welcome to Starbucks. Are you having your usual today?” Baffled, I asked, “How do you know what my usual is?” The gentleman said, “I recognize your car.” Apparently that Starbucks location has cameras at the drive-thru ordering speakers. (I was at the first window, not the second.) Not only do they have cameras, but also they take the time to remember what regular customers order. Starbucks made me feel known. Get creative and think about how you might make your customers feel known and welcome. When you do, you’ll create a warm and memorable customer experience.

Interested in having me deliver a customer service training or a customer service keynote at your company? We need to talk. Visit my website and take a look around. Then call my Assistant, Jamal, and we’ll see if I’m a good fit for you.

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Today I want to share with you a look inside PaySimple’s Contact Center. In this short video, you will see how PaySimple ensures their customers have everything they need to succeed. PaySimple focuses on making their customer’s lives easier by delivering immediate and accurate answers. Watch this video and be inspired.

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What we’re talking about is Myra Golden’s “Stop Screaming At Me” online video training.

Check it out here.

How Getting Out of the Way Might Lead to a Better Corporate Culture (And Better Photos)

Last Sunday I grabbed my camera and took my son and his friend to the neighborhood lake for a breather from Wii and PlayStation. I let them go barefoot and they ran on at least 100 feet ahead of me. I stayed back to let them do what boys do: explore, play and discover.  I watched as they watched the ducks in complete silence and then I smiled when they suddenly got up and began throwing pebbles into the lake, startling the ducks and sending geese inflight. While the boys explored and played, I took shot after shot of them in action. They all but forget I was even there.

Thirty minutes later I was back home looking at some of the most amazing pictures I have ever taken. Here are 3 of my shots from Sunday afternoon.

Exploration

Watching the ducks and geese

Discovery

What made these pictures so amazing to me is that I completely got out of the way and allowed the boys to do what came naturally to them. I didn’t make them stop to smile and pose for shots. I didn’t interrupt their natural curiosity and energy.  I simply stayed back with a watchful eye and tried to capture the exuberance of two young boys at play.

Imagine the difference in my shots if I’d made the boys stop and pose and smile. The pictures would have been far less exciting and the boys would not have enjoyed their playtime nearly as much. Now imagine your culture and customer experience if you gave your employees more freedom, fewer rules, and if you stayed back just a little. 

Isn’t this what we should be doing with our employees? What if we stayed out of their way, had fewer rules, and gave them freedom do what comes naturally? Is it possible that giving our employees room and freedom just might lead to a better customer experience? What if we were there to give our employees support and guidance, but we granted them freedom to be themselves and have fun with customers? (i.e. I kept the boys from danger by not allowing them to go into the deeper waters to get a soccer ball. That’s guidance. Yet, I still let them have fun.) I think it’s possible that staying out of the way, giving freedom and offering support might just make for a more innovative, fun, and profit-generating culture.

Stand back. Get out of the way. Let your employees explore, play and discover.