7 Ways to Make Every Customer Interaction Awesome
You know the feeling? When you walk away from an experience as a customer and feel so genuinely impressed by the level of service you received? Perhaps it was an air hostess who went out of their way to make you feel comfortable as an anxious flier, or maybe it was an insurance associate who made the process of making a claim so easy and stress-free. Whatever the awesome experience, there are common strategies that can be used to make the experience so good customers keep coming back. The following list is a compilation of 8 ways (that you can start doing today) to make every customer interaction or experience one that will give your customers a new-found love for your brand.
Think Beyond Policy & Procedure
At the beginning of 2023, we surveyed our customers across various service industries on a variety of CX topics. When asked what their number one customer experience tip was, one of the our most interesting answers to come out of the survey was around thinking BEYOND policy and procedure. “Policy leads to poor customer service experiences. Empower your people to find a way to say yes.”...one respondent said, with many others following suit. Have you ever been in a service situation where the frontline employee says something along the lines of “I’m sorry sir/madam but it's just our policy and there’s nothing I can do”. That’s what our survey respondent is talking about here.
One of the keys to unlocking more consistently awesome customer experiences is providing space for your frontline associates to think beyond policies and procedures. Of course this has to be done in a reasonable way, but when your associates have the freedom to think outside the box and find personalized solutions for customers, you’ll no doubt end up with more brand advocates. Christine McHugh, Vice President of Customer Service at Starbucks, says that “most employees want to deliver awesome customer experiences” the trick is, you need to “create flexible policies and solutions that enable frontline workers to help customers”.
Anticipate (Don’t Just React) to Customer Needs:
Collecting and acting on customer feedback is great (and more than most service businesses are doing), but anticipating customer needs is what will set you apart from competition. This is all about training your team to foresee needs and address potential customer issues before they arise. One of the best ways you can do this is to connect real-time customer feedback with your customer-facing teams. This way, your employees get to know your customers on an intimate level and can gain a deeper understanding as to what they value. By being proactive, you can offer personalized recommendations, prompt assistance, and timely solutions, leaving customers pleasantly surprised.
Personalize the Experience:
We love a personalized experience. In fact, According to a 2021 McKinsey report, 76% of consumers get frustrated when they can’t find a personalized experience with a brand. Customers appreciate when they feel recognized and valued as individuals, not a collective customer base. So, whenever possible, personalize your interactions. Address customers by their names, reference their previous interactions or preferences, and tailor your recommendations based on their specific needs. Even just the simple sound of your own name being spoken aloud releases feel good hormones like dopamine and serotonin. This burst of excitement makes people happy and sends unconscious signals such as empathy, trust, and compassion to the unconscious brain.
Cultivate a Customer-Centric Culture:
How do I get my entire team to care about the customer experience as much as I do? It’s a question most executives and managers of service businesses are grappling with. The answer? It all comes down to culture. Making every customer interaction awesome starts from within your organization. Train your employees to empathize with customers, actively listen to their needs, and go the extra mile to meet their expectations. Encourage teamwork and recognize and reward employees who consistently deliver outstanding customer experiences. For more on this, check out 5 Ways to Build a Customer Centric Culture here.
Respond to Customers Promptly and Efficiently:
In today's fast-paced world, customers expect timely responses. Whether it's a phone call, email, or social media inquiry, aim to respond promptly and efficiently. Set clear service level agreements (SLAs) for response times and ensure your team adheres to them by rewarding those who do, and providing coaching and support to those who don’t. Even if you can't provide an immediate solution, acknowledging the customer's query and providing a timeframe for resolution goes a long way in maintaining customer satisfaction.
Equip Your Frontline Associates:
Your frontline staff are the Margot Robbie to the Barbie movie (they play an extremely important role). If you don’t equip your frontline times with the feedback, coaching, recognition, technology and support they need to deliver awesome experiences, you’ll have a hard time making much progress. Empower frontline associates with the authority and resources to resolve customer issues promptly. Provide comprehensive training on product knowledge, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. When employees feel empowered, they take ownership of customer problems and work towards swift resolutions, ensuring more positive interactions.
Recognize Teams when they Nail It
Frontline associates are the face of the brand, representing its values and commitment to customer satisfaction. By acknowledging and appreciating their efforts, brands not only boost employee morale and motivation but also reinforce a culture of excellence and dedication to service. When associates feel valued, they are more likely to go the extra mile, providing genuine and personalized interactions with customers. This, in turn, leads to enhanced customer satisfaction, increased loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth referrals. By making recognition a priority, service brands can cultivate a harmonious and supportive work environment, resulting in happier associates and, ultimately, more delighted and loyal customers.
Creating awesome customer interactions is a continuous journey that requires dedication, empathy, and a customer-centric approach. By cultivating a customer-centric culture, practicing active listening, personalizing experiences, anticipating needs, empowering your frontline staff, responding promptly, going the extra mile, and seeking feedback, you can elevate your customer service to new heights. Remember, every interaction is an opportunity to leave a positive and lasting impression, turning satisfied customers into loyal advocates for your brand.