This is the second in our 6-part leadership speaker series of articles that looks at stimulating change for epic service.
Every company provides customer service, and good customer service just doesn’t cut it anymore. Your customers expect a lot out of your company. They want an experience, not an uneventful interaction.
In my experience as an organizational change consultant, even if customers are satisfied, there is still nothing stopping them from choosing your competitor over you. This is why you need to evolve and move beyond simply providing good customer service. Instead, focus on engaging them and creating memorable experiences. This change in approach can be the difference maker you are looking for to take your customer service experience to the next level.
As consumers, we all remember those times when a company went above and beyond and exceeded our expectations or connected with us on a personal level. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking exceeding expectations are limited to big events or heroic actions. Even simple things like an employee remembering our name or sparking up a conversation are all subtle, yet important factors that help companies build relationships with their customers. Often, simply providing your service simpler, faster or easier than the competition is exceeding expectations.
Moving from Customer Service to Customer Experience
A quality customer experience is focused on developing your relationship with a customer throughout the duration of your relationship with that customer. Each interaction is an opportunity to further your relationship and move from customer service and satisfaction to creating a reciprocal and loyal relationship with your customers.
As stated in Moving from Customer Service to Customer Experience, “Great customer experiences make customers feel like they have received something exceptional. This positive experience you deliver creates an imbalance that disturbs the natural sense of reciprocity. When this happens, it creates brand advocates. They want to reciprocate by promoting your business — through word of mouth, social media, online reviews, and other traditional means — to balance the scales of reciprocity.”
4 Elements that Change Customer Service to Customer Engagement
So, how do you move from satisfying customers to creating brand advocates? It starts with understanding the depth of your relationship with your customers and developing this relationship using the following rules of customer engagement:
- Customer engagement experiences are everywhere: Your customers can connect with you in many different ways. They can visit in person, call you on the phone, send you an email, comment on your blog, and communicate with you on social media. Each one of these interactions matter. You need to listen to all of these conversations and interactions and connect with them in a manner that is personalized to satisfy their emotional needs. You need to listen, learn more, and repeat the process as your relationship evolves.
- Engagement is customer driven: Today, it’s all about them — your customers have control of when and if they will communicate with you. The buying process is different today. Customers are more informed, better researched — and often closer to a purchase decision when they first interact with your organization. Your role is to provide them with the opportunity and the platform to engage when they are ready. Make communicating and interacting with your company as simple as possible, and make it clear you are always available.
- It needs to be customer outcome driven: Customer engagement and communication is ongoing. It’s a dialogue that evolves with each new interaction. However, you still need to use these interactions to your advantage. Have a goal for each interaction, with the goal being aligned to the needs of the specific customer you are interacting with. The goal could be as simple as following up with a previous purchase, building loyalty, or learning something new about the customer. Make every interaction worthwhile and valued — from a customer viewpoint, not a company viewpoint.
- Engagement needs to be mutually beneficial: No one wants to feel like they are being sold on something every time they talk with a company. This is why you need to make your communications with customers mutually beneficial – it should be more like a conversation between friends then a sales pitch. Listen to what your customers are saying, ask questions about their experience, and make sure they feel heard. This creates a win-win situation – you learn more about your customers so are better able to meet their needs, and your customers feel like their concerns are being addressed.
If your company truly wants to be in a position to create deeper relationships with customers and grow the business, you need to engage them and create experiences that will give your customers a reason to want to come back. This shift in approach will help you provide epic service to your customers.
The next article in our 6-part leadership speaker series will examine Emotional Drivers of Satisfaction and Loyalty.