My new customer service keynote, A 2020 Service Strategy to Grow Your Business focuses on 5 specific strategies. Today’s article focuses on Step ONE. Evaluate what your organization needs to do to implement these important steps moving toward 2020:
- Meet & Exceed Customer Expectations
- Engage Employees Who Will Engage Customers
- Be Millennial Savvy
- Make It Right When Things Go Wrong
- Build & Protect Customer Relationships Proactively
Step 1: Meet & Exceed Customer Expectations
In order to meet customer expectations, the first common sense service step is to KNOW your customers’ expectations! Recognize that expectations are different for every type of customer, every demographic, and every step on the customer journey. This step then, is not an easy one, but one that requires careful consideration and focus.
With your team, break customers down into various customer types. In a recent presentation for an association, the customer base of conference attendees included both different customer positions and different business types. The positions included HR directors and purchasing managers. This is a great example of differing expectations.
HR directors are totally focused on what is best for the employee whereas purchasing managers are totally focused on the least expensive product cost. Business types included hospitals and colleges. Similarly, these business types had completely different expectations. We spent time identifying the needs for these different customer types.
What are your customer positions and business types? Identify those ‘types’ and then ask your customer service and sales team to discuss what the differing expectations are for each. Once expectations are identified, brainstorm on how to meet those expectations and discuss what may get in the way of doing such. Eliminate organizational barriers to expectation fulfillment, discuss how to eliminate or minimize those, and then identify ways expectations can be not just met but EXCEEDED.
- Do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it
- Don’t make me talk to multiple people to get an issue resolved
- Have knowledgeable employees who can answer my questions
- Allow me to contact you in my channel of choice
- If something goes wrong, make it right… in a hurry!
- Be EASY to do business with (I have lots of other stuff to deal with!)
- Value ME as individual and address my individual needs
- My resources are limited, give me the best value you can
- For heaven’s sake, have courteous service representatives!
These may be common sense, but read between the lines to what they mean…
If you are going to do what you say you are going to do, you can’t over-promise and under-deliver! This means that the sales and service team knows what they can and can’t do in what time frame. It’s important to note that it is NOT lazy people who fail on this expectation, but rather earnest team members who want the best for customers. Making a customer talk to multiple people was identified as the #1 customer fail in a recent study. To not fall into this trap, you have to walk in the customer’s shoes and know their journey. Having knowledgeable employees means having frequent product AND service training. Making it right in a hurry requires identifying the customer touch points where conflict can occur and then working to minimize the occurrence of such. (We will explore this in more detail in a later post on Making It Right)
Each one of the expectations listed above has a corresponding preparation step. Don’t leave expectation fulfillment to chance. Make it a priority and a strategy for success with specific steps and measurements to make sure that the steps are working!
While focusing on expectations, don’t forget to include INTERNAL customer service. Many times customer expectations are not met because internal service is not what it should be. A great exercise for a company wide meeting is to identify the expectations that each department has of other departments and positions.
Identifying specific actions both internal and external that impact the organization’s ability to deliver on customer expectations. This can be an eye opening discussion and one that builds empathy between those with different responsibilities. Focus on meeting and exceeding customer expectations as a key strategy moving toward 2020.
Stay tuned, our next post will focus on Step TWO: Engaging Employees who will Engage Customers!