Are your customer service people adding value to interactions?

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The night before a workshop I delivered last week in Charleston, SC I called the Mellow Mushroom for delivery. I removed cheese and meat from my appetizer, salad and entree. (It sounds like I ate a lot! I did.) The man on the phone asked, “Are you vegan?” To that I said, “Yes, I am.” “Me too,” he said. He then went on to explain that my Quinoa burger included a little egg as a binding and he wanted to know if that was okay. I was fine with that. From there we chatted about us both being “flexible vegans.”

The simple inquiry, “Are you vegan?” led to rapport-building conversation and such a friendly and unique experience for me. The man was friendly. He was genuine. He made me feel completely comfortable with my many customizations. And he gave me an engaging and genuine interaction.

Are your people adding value to your company through their interactions with customers?

Your employees can add value to the customer experience by doing 3 things: Making personal connection, Acknowledging concern, and Empathy

1. Making Personal Connection

This is what the man at Mellow Mushroom did, and it’s so easy to do. In my workshops I tell people to look for something they can comment on, something perhaps that they have in common with the customer. For example, a customer service agent could say, “I ordered that exact same duffle for my daughter. She’s in cheer as well and she loves that she can throw all of her outfits and makeup in it and easily carry the bag over her shoulder.” This sharing helps create rapport because it’s genuine – and it just might lead to a sell or up-sell.

2. Acknowledge Concern

Continue reading “Are your customer service people adding value to interactions?”

Keeping the Customer Experience Fresh Through Responsiveness (How Hello Fresh delighted me by keeping me apprised)

 

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On Sunday I had to reach out to my grocery delivery service for help. I sent an email and almost immediately I received an automatic reply. The reply was simple, just letting me know that my email had been received.

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Hi there,

Thanks so much for getting in touch! 

We have received your email and will respond shortly.

While you wait, take a look at our FAQ’s at http://www.hellofresh.com/faq/, in case your answer lies there.

Lastly, if you need to make meal choice, update your payment details, cancel or pause your account, please login https://www.hellofresh.com/customer/account/login/.

Talk to you soon,

The Friendly Freshers

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I appreciate getting an immediate response to my query, even when I know this is an automated computer generated response. It lets me know my email successfully reached the company. It puts me at ease.

When I’ve contacted this company over email in the past, the response from a service rep is pretty fast, usually within 1-2 hours. But nearly 24 hours had passed and I hadn’t heard back from the company. It was Martin Luther King Day and I thought perhaps they were short-staffed with people taking the day off. My kids were out of school and my husband and I had also taken the day off. But, to my delight, exactly 24 hours after my initial email, I got a second automated email from the company.

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Hello, Myra,

We’re sorry we haven’t gotten back to you yet. We have received your message and will respond to you very shortly. Thank you for bearing with us.

If you have anything else to add, please just reply here http://hellofreshusa.zendesk.com/hc/requests/854899 and we’ll get back to you shortly.

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I loved this second email, so much so, that I took time out of my holiday weekend to sit down and talk to you about it.

Hello Fresh normally replies to emails within 1-2 hours. But this time they didn’t, but they proactively updated me. This little update, timed perfectly at 24 hours after my initial communication, assured me that my email did not get lost and that they were on top of things. This update kept me from losing confidence in the company and it took away any need for me to reach out again by email or telephone. It protected me from becoming upset or even worse; it protected me from defecting.

Keeping customers apprised via automated emails is brilliant. It puts customers at ease, helps customers feel confident that the company is working on the problem, and it keeps customers from feeling they need to reach out to the company a second time.

The customer experience needs to reduce customer effort, keep customers apprised and it’s a treat when the experience can delight customers. Hello Fresh did each of these things by simply having an automated response built in to launch 24 hours after my initial email.

When you don’t immediately acknowledge a customer a customer’s inquiry, they may wonder if their communication even reached you and this may prompt follow-up communication that cost you time and money. Failing to acknowledge customer inquiries and not providing updates can result in losing customer confidence and trust.

What You Can Do

Review one aspect of your customer experience and explore how you can reduce customer effort and keep customers apprised. If you’re feeling really creative, consider how you might add surprise or delight to this aspect of the customer experience.

The Bottom Line

 

The outcome of an automated customer apprising strategy is customers who are updated and less likely to have to follow up to check in, and your organization will build customer confidence and trust through proactive communication.

Myra Golden is a customer experience keynote speaker and trainer who travels North America looking for great stories to share, and new ways to help her clients deliver the best possible customer experience.

Craft a Customer Experience that Leaves Customers Saying, “That was easy!”

That was easy

This morning I was going through a junk drawer in my kitchen and I came across the “Easy” button from the Staples advertising campaign, “That was easy.” I remember being in Staples nearly 10 years ago and my daughter kept pressing the Easy button at the register. She was quite amused with the simple button, relating it to the commercials she had seen. So I bought the Easy button for her. Not surprisingly, the novelty quickly wore off and the Easy button has probably been stashed in our junk drawer for years.

My first meeting of the day was with a client who is trying to create the best possible customer experience for her clients. As we talked, I thought about the “Easy” button that I had come across a couple hours earlier.  I told my client that we need to step back and ask ourselves, what do we need to do differently, better, faster, smoother or more refreshingly, so that your customers hang up thinking, “that was easy!”

The idea of making the customer experience quick, painless and easy is one that I think most companies can benefit from immediately. Ask yourself (or better yet, get your team together and brainstorm with them), what do we need to do differently or better to have our customers walk away or hang-up thinking, “That was easy.” Brainstorm. Plan. Implement. Blow them away!

I also did a quick video on my iPhone about the “Easy Customer Experience”.

P.S. I decided to transfer my Easy button from my kitchen drawer to my armoire of presentation props. I envision taking the Easy button to a presentation, pressing it, and building a point for finding ways to make the customer experience truly easier. 

Got a tough customer experience problem? Write a “Dear Abby” Letter.

Dear Abby

When I’m brought into a company to solve a tough ongoing problem, one of my problem solving techniques is to ask my client to write a “Dear Abby” letter. The technique works wonders. I ask employees to write the letter just like a “Dear Abby” letter and to include as many examples of the problem as possible and lots of details. I have them write Abby so they can paint a vivid picture of everything they know about the problem. In the Problem Solving 6-step process my firm uses, this is known as Fact Finding.

Why Fact Finding? – Before attempting to tackle a tough problem, you need to increase your overall understanding of the problem. You may find that you have to reframe the problem to create a more productive perspective. Fact-finding helps you collect relevant data that can suggest different ways of viewing or restating your original definitions. Fact finding brings clarity to problem solving.

Ever read the Dear Abby column? Questions posed to Abby are clear and complete and usually include examples of the problem and lots of details. The completeness of the question helps Abby explore the problem and offer on- target advice for resolution.

Sounds Interesting, But How Does It Work? When faced with a tough problem (the need to improve a process, speeding up the customer checkout experience, improving the Help section on your website, etc.) you can get everyone impacted by that  problem together and announce that they have 15 minutes to write a publishable “Dear Abby” letter. The letters you get back from the group will serve as the first step in defining the exact problem or goal you want to achieve. Often, the answers to the problem are found in the words of the “Dear Abby” letter.

After fully exploring the problem through fact-finding, you can lead your team to succinctly define the problem, generate solutions and lay out an implementation plan. The next time you’re faced with a challenging problem, try having your team write “Dear Abby”  letters. You may find the answers appear right under your nose!

What would you want if you were the customer?

My husband made an online purchase last week and after several days, he had heard nothing from the company regarding shipment of his product. The “auto-reply” email he received after purchase was generic and didn’t include a phone number or even a web address for the company. After some digging, I found an email address for the company. I emailed the company and got a quick reply. The problem is, the reply was a generic response that provided no details. I replied to that email and got an equally vague response. So, I have no idea if the order has been shipped or if this is even a legitimate company. I’ll put this on the back burner and deal with it later.

Our frustrating experience is a great opportunity for me to share with you an exercise I have my clients participate in in order to drastically improve the customer experience in their companies.

When I’m brought into a company to improve the customer experience, one of the first things I do is ask, “What would you want if you were the customer?”
If this online retailer was my client, I’d ask, “If you placed an online order with this company, what would you want/need/expect?” I think I’d get answers like:

•“I’d want an immediate order confirmation emailed to me.”
•“A tracking number emailed to me once the order has been shipped.”
•“An easy way to contact the company by email or phone.”
•“Quick and easy access to a FAQ section on the website that explains the shipping procedure and estimated shipping times.”
•“A guarantee for products.”
•“A toll-free number prominently displayed on the website.”

After getting the client to tell me what they’d want if they were the customer, I’d facility an exercise where we’d brainstorm ways to align the company’s processes and workflows so that they immediately take actionable steps to create a service experience that gives customers exactly what they expect and deserve.

If you want to quickly improve your own customer experience, gather your team together and simply ask, “If you were the customer, what would you need/want/expect?” Then align your processes, people and workflows to deliver exactly what your customers expect and deserve. 

But this retailer isn’t my client. My only concern with them is getting my order.