Over the last many years’ organizations have been focusing on improving their customer service teams and the service levels they provide to customers. By definition, customer service is the assistance and advice by a company to people who buy or use its products or services. Excellent service is a differentiator in the market, but is it enough?
It needs to be stated up front that customer service is a function of business. We have to provide it at some level and typically it is comprised of four or five things; are we polite? Were we responsive to your needs? Did we handle your concern efficiently? Was our team as knowledgeable as needed? Were we easy to work with?
Moving towards creating a customer experience is a strategy. 82% of customers stop doing business with a company due to a bad customer experience. If you have one complaint because of a bad experience, there are 26 more that are not complaining. These are sobering numbers and frankly, a bit scary. It is not hard to look back over the last day or month and recall a bad experience that was delivered to a customer. Now, imagine if that was the norm? One bad experience delivered once or twice a week equates to 26 to 52 unreported experiences that you put into the marketplace. Creating the customer experience takes discipline not unlike accounting, marketing, sales, and operations.
Here are the six elements to creating a great customer experience:
· Strategy: What is the level of service or experience you want others to talk about? When a customer describes their experience with your organization, what should they say? Describe it with words and phrases that DO NOT include price, quality and service.
· Understanding: Do you really know what your customers want? Have you ever asked?
· Design: Once you know what you want to deliver and what you understand what your customers want, design the experience from front to back. More times than not, this is a problem solving exercise.
· Measurement: NO ONE respects what you don’t inspect. Set goals and standards and manage to them. Set Key Performance Indicators that everyone will contribute to achieve.
· Governance: Who is in charge of the customer experience? Hint: it is NOT everyone in the office. All contribute to the customer experience, but one needs to be held accountable. There is an old saying “if everyone is in charge, then no one is in charge.”
· Culture: Finally, is this new level of service being installed as your new culture? This is about your belief systems becoming behavioral norms. You’ll know after a year of trial, error and perfecting.
So how do you know where you are at in the process? It may be helpful to look at it this way: If your team is asking “What’s this?” you have no level of consciousness about creating a customer experience. If you have really good days, then a bunch of average days, you have what we call an “Ad Hoc” level of performance. If you deliver a great experience most days- it’s “repeatable.” Finally, if you do it every day and it is part of the culture, you have achieved a “Systematic” level of experience! Your goal should always be to create a culture that can be sustained at the highest level of performance as possible.