“Customer Service Representatives need to be knowledgeable, courteous and pleasant when dealing with the Customer. So, stop focusing on technology only; in 2018 your Front Line Customer Service People will make the difference!”
– Nancy Friedman, President of Telephone Doctor Services
How to NOT Forget the Basics (or the People!)
I recently wrote that “There is NOTHING that takes the place of a human delivering good customer service.” As a Customer Service trainer who specializes in helping companies create customer-focused cultures, this should not come as a surprise to me, but I can get just as caught up as the next guy when it comes to the ‘latest and greatest’ in technology trends and getting things done faster.
It was a good reminder to NOT forget the basics of good customer service and the core skills needed to deliver an amazing customer experience and to NOT jump entirely on the latest trends bandwagon.
It is more than a trend, it’s the way of life. But, there is SO much social media that customers can easily get overwhelmed and confused and completely tune out. Especially if your brand/social media voice is muddled or not clearly defined.
People will still call your business. And if they call your business, there is a reason! There is clearly something they could not find online, so when they call, be ready for them! Be happy to hear from them! The majority of ‘traditional’ businesses still report that more than 50% of their revenue originates on the phone. Have a training program in place and a set of skills that an employee should use to turn that simple phone inquiry into the first part of an awesome experience for that customer and a sale for you!
I click on Yelp, Trip Advisor, customer reviews at retail sites, etc. many times per day. I will even admit to being in a store, like a pet store for an example, and pulling up their website to read reviews on a product before buying it in person!
I am not arguing that these sites are not critical to the success of any business these days, they are. However, that experience starts, more times than not, in a personal interaction between the customer and employee. If you are spending more time managing your online reputation than you are training your employees on how to deliver legendary service, your priorities might be out of whack.
Hire employees who genuinely care about your customers. Empower them to ‘wow’ your customers who are guests in your business. Teach them to connect with each customer and to be insatiably curious. Learn all you can about your customers, so you can personalize each experience.
Automated Nurturing Campaigns
The process of sending a series of automated messages that will trigger a customer response based on their behaviors or a preset time interval. Sounds good right?
This can be very effective during the ‘cold calling phase’ of attracting a prospect. It might help you get someone on the hook, but to reel them in, you will still need good old-fashioned, human to human customer service. If you don’t have the right employees in place who know how, and can deliver a great customer experience, then you’ve wasted your time.
While technology might make our lives easier, and certainly opens a world of information to us, most customers, like me, still prefer to buy from a human, who we know cares about us and our success.
According to Temkin Group, a company who reports on consumer habits/behaviors and tracks what makes customers loyal, the top trends in the 2018 customer service arena shows us that indeed, the human part of the interaction is still number one:
Value matters more to customers than price. We will pay more for a better experience. I would have paid almost anything for the value I received during my hotel stay mentioned earlier.
Personalization is on the rise. With so many choices out there, customers want to feel like more than a number and all want to be special. My hotel friend could have simply checked me in and I would have been satisfied but she personalized my entire stay to me, and my dogs, and that earned my loyalty.
Consistency matters. Customers want consistently great service; online, face to face and over the phone. It can’t be great just once. It has to happen, every time.
More focus on customer success. Gone are the days where companies brag about their own success. Instead, the best businesses are showing off their customers’ success with their products and service which is turn makes them more successful.
Pro-active customer service is gaining in popularity. With so much on our plates, we want someone else to do the heavy lifting for us! During my hotel stay, the employee was 1-2 steps ahead of me the entire time. I did not have to think of anything!
Convenience wins the day. It should not be hard for me to do business with you. Keep it simple, make it easy.
While I am not suggesting we go back so far in time that services like GPS and Googling a hotel phone number would not yet exist, I am a fan of blending the ‘old’ with the ‘new’ and remembering that nothing can replace a genuine, human interaction.