This story is a version of a post published here.
What runs through your mind when you read a positive review of one of your competitors? Is it anger, jealousy, or a drive to surpass the customer experience that they provide? I’m sure you would welcome their customers with open arms! However, for them to even think about giving you their business you need to be able to learn your competitor’s customer experience and take it to the next level in every aspect for your customers. After all why would a customer demote the experience that they get for the sake of a lower price or a slightly differentiated product?
Let us be honest, there will always be a few aspects of customer experience that your competitors may handle better than you, while there would be other aspects that they don’t manage well. It takes a courageous and honest heart to accept that your competition is better than yourself. However, with an open mind, there is a lot that you could learn from both what your competition is doing right and from their mistakes. Nonetheless, don’t begin learning from someone else’s mistakes before you learn from your own.
What should you adopt from your competitors?
Be where your customers want you to be
If your competitors is taking advantage of omni-channel support options, then why aren’t you? In this generation of millennials and boomers, you are going to have to adapt to the digital age to handle all the feedback and reviews that you are receiving.
Today, there are so many ways that a company can interact with their customers. Social media, email and even live chat. Have all these channels established in your company and well-trained, responsive employees to handle such channels. Everyone has a social media account today and they’d rather tweet about their problem than email or call. Sometimes, customers need more information about a product and don’t want to waste their time on a call. For these reasons, facilitating a live chat where customers can easily interact with your company and resolve a doubt goes a long way in improving the customer experience.
Engage your employees
The first thing organisations need to understand is that satisfied employees are not the same as engaged employees. As Customer Insight puts it, employee satisfaction is the extent to which employees are happy or content with their jobs and work environment. On the other hand, employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organisation, and put discretionary effort into their work. An engaged employee will have a symbiotic relationship with his organisation, as opposed to a satisfied one which is unidirectional. In line with one of Bruce Temkin’s 6 laws of Customer Experience, it is only an engaged employee who can create an engaged customer. If your competition is investing in employee engagement and you are not, then surely the competition has got it right and it may be only a matter of time before they start reaping the benefits of their investment.
Facilitate a self-service platform
Always prioritise facilitating self-service for your customers. This not only reduces stress on your customer service team, but it also allows for faster complaint resolution times for customers.
Often, customers themselves can clarify problems that they are facing without having to call a customer service representative. The Internet is perfect for giving customers self-service support options like FAQ pages and community forums. These days, many individuals prefer to find answers themselves rather than contact their providers.
Follow through and Follow up
After having responded to a complaint, feedback, or even after a sell, don’t forget to follow up. Customers want to know that you are, and will be, there with them throughout their journey with your brand. Remember, you have not closed the loop unless you ensure that the customer’s issue or feedback has been resolved or responded to satisfactorily. Reach out to your customers personally when following up. A personalised approach lets the customer know that you value their needs and place their opinions first. Which ultimately gives the customer an excellent impression, which may result in their advocacy for your company.
Four of your competitors mistakes that you should reflect on:
Slow response times
React immediately. Whether it is a social media comment or a feedback call. Don’t force the customer to repeat his/her complaint/feedback. It is understandable that you would not have an immediate solution for a customer’s complaint, but by ensuring that you are getting on it immediately will placate even the angriest customer. According to a social media research by Convince and Convert 42% of consumers complaining on social media expect a 60 minute response time.
Although certain metrics can be very important for a business and its customers, avoid obsessing over it. Now what if employees are given a goal of improving the Net Promoter Score® (NPS) for their company? They may resort to unethical methods to get a high NPS® on paper. Methods such as insisting customers to provide good feedback, only asking the happy customers for feedback etc. This will ensure that the score looks bright and shiny, but inside it could be as meaningless as one could imagine! Don’t let your employees get carried away by the metric itself, rather train them to focus on delivering exceptional customer experience and the positive ratings will come flooding in.
Often, when a customer contacts your company with a complaint, it’s one of your customer service representatives who responds and reacts to the problem. They are on the frontline, interacting with customers and, if you have a weakly-structured customer service team, your customers are left to bear the brunt of your carelessness. Low or superficial determination to deliver a good customer service can lead to even lower customer experience and potential detractors.
Lack of automation
A lot of companies fail to make the right investments in their customer service department. Often, this department is regarded as the biggest cost centre that exhausts the company’s budget; something that costs a lot, but doesn’t contribute at all to the revenue. This is the worst outlook one can have about the customer service division. On the other hand, successful companies know how crucial customer service interactions are. They don’t look at the customer service department as a liability. Such organisations know that if a customer’s complaint or feedback is handled well then they have found a place in the customer’s heart.
If you invest in worthy customer service solutions, such as cloud help desk technology, it would make it possible for your company to vastly improve your customer service team’s productivity and service for customers. Give them the right tools, and customer service will prove to be the best team that generates retention revenue!
There is a lot that you can learn from your competitors, but there is a lot that they can take away from you too. By maintaining a high standard of customer experience, your competitors are retaining customers that could be potentially yours. Your goal should be to learn from how they operate, implement better methods that they use, and fill in the their gaps. This will eventually gain you a large customer base who in today’s generation value customer experience more than anything else.