15 April 2014

Is Customer Service Enough?

We recently read a series of articles that resonated with us about one of the make-or-break issues facing business owners today (and always): customer service.

Here’s the “money quote” from the articles’ author, leadership expert and Amazon executive Andreas von der Heydt:

“In the end, it’s not really about customer service, it’s about customer obsession. It’s about being obsessed to constantly deliver the best customer experience possible, it’s about to delight (sic) your customers whenever they interact with your organization. It’s about value-adding products and services, fair prices, about care, about exceeding expectations, about passion, respect, personalization, attitude, simplicity, staff empowerment, and about a never-ending improvement process.”

The world is shrinking, our customers’ expectations are growing, and transparency and speed in the way we answer our customers’ needs now and in the future are non-negotiable. Transactional-style customer experiences aren’t enough—von der Heydt hits the nail on the head with the term “obsession.”

Here are five reasons why transforming a “service” into an “obsession” is a must-do for your business:

Your customers’ base expectation is good service.

Customers don’t expect 95 percent on a job they’re paying for in full. Think about it this way: when you pay for a car repair, do you leave the shop thinking, “Wow, they did the work exactly how I expected them to based on how much I paid! That’s fantastic!” Probably not. The understanding is that by paying for the repairs to be done, they will be done to a certain standard. Achieving that isn’t commendable, it’s expected. A customer-obsessed experience, on the other hand, takes that job and adds delight to it in some unexpected way. It says, “You need a car repair? We’ll do a great job with that. And then we’ll vacuum and wash your car for free.” Customer obsession doesn’t have to be extravagant—it only takes a little thoughtfulness to make a big impression.

A single bad service experience will live on in infamy.

…in internet search records, on Twitter, and in the word-of-mouth conversations of your clients. For example, dissatisfied customers will tell between 9-15 people about their experience, and around 13% of dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 people, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs.

Another report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says 68% of customers leave because they were upset with the treatment they received while speaking to customer service. It seems that “service” is equated with the idea that something’s already wrong. Obsession, on the other hand, seeks out potential problems before they cause damage. On the other hand,

Customers who are delighted tend to be more loyal.

They can go elsewhere, but because they know they are treated right, they stay with your company. We see this happen often in our business—and the numbers back it up. 60 percent of respondents in a Harris Interactive report say they will often or always pay more for a better experience.

Then, they become your brand ambassadors.

This might be one of the coolest parts of customer obsession. When we become obsessed with our customers, they often return the favor.

Another cool result? Obsession results in lower costs for you.

“When work gets done faster in order to delight customers, costs tend to come down of their own accord.” Yes, you read that right. Amazing customer experiences don’t cost you more—because of the gains on both prices and costs, it actually costs you less in the grand scheme.

So, how can your business create a culture of customer obsession? It comes down to three things:

The right systems, the right tools, and the right attitude.

  • The right attitude is the first step, and it’s also the most simple: treat others the way you want to be treated. As the leader of the team, the way you display this attitude will begin the shift toward obsession that every employee in your operation must buy in to in order to succeed.
  • Once you’ve established the right attitude, implementing the right systems come in to play. Focus here on processes that work for the customer. Simplify complex, time-consuming tasks, and reevaluate things like hold times and CSR performance. This step will show you the weak links in your business that are probably costing you.
  • When you have found the systems that could be costing you, correct them with the right tools. One of the easiest-to-use tools (with the highest ROI) is call recording. Recording your calls lets you be a “fly on the wall” during your call takers’ interactions with customers, giving you information you need to correct negative employee behavior as well as train new representatives. (Training is easier and more effective when there are recordings of specific customer calls to reference.) With call recording, you’ll be able to see exactly how the shift toward customer obsession is positively impacting your clients—and your bottom line!

If you want to move beyond customer service and toward customer obsession, give us a call or contact us about how we can help. We’d love to join you on your journey.