Automation is essential for expanding and accelerating service in many industries. But when individual care or attention is required, customers need contact with real people. When human energy flows and connects, good things (can) get done and you can improve customer experience to your advantage.
Try this experiment:
Call the main number of four companies and state, “I am calling with a question about your product.” Then ask a few basic questions and rate the quality of service you receive.
Now call four different companies and ask for help again. But this time, make a “personal connection” first.
Start by saying, “Hello, I am calling about one of your products. I am hoping you can help me.” (Pause and wait for a reply.) “You can help? Oh, that’s great. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it. My name is (give your full name). Who am I speaking with, please?”
Once again, rate the quality of service you receive. I’ll bet the service you get from the second group of calls is friendlier, more thorough and uplifting for you – and for the service provider. This little exercise shows how easy it is to improve customer experience by adding a personal touch.
Key learning point to improve customer experience
When service between companies and customers is provided person-to-person, do everything you can to create, support and enhance a real connection between real people. This will improve customer experience and leave clients with a positive impression about your business.
Action steps to improve customer experience
1. On the phone, teach your staff to initiate the personal connection by offering their names to improve customer experience. “Hello. This is Janice Lee in the Accounts Department. How may I help you?”
2. Ask customers politely for their names and how they prefer to be addressed. Then use your customer’s name in a friendly tone throughout the conversation to improve customer experience.
3. Provide staff with attractive name tags to wear at work. These may be colorful or elegant, with full name, first name or nickname, as appropriate for your organization.
4. Post complimentary pictures of your staff on the wall in the customer service area. This will help customers “connect” with the members of your team and can improve customer experience as a result. Your staff will feel proud of themselves and the company if they look good in the photos, so take the time to do this right.
5. Give staff members personalized business cards to share with their customers. For many front-line employees, this small step dramatically increases pride in, and ownership of their service. If you have a large number of front-line or temporary staff, create a standard business card that can be easily customized with a nicely handwritten or computer-printed name. Even this simple gesture can improve customer experience with your company.
6. Help your staff connect with real customers by hosting frequent focus groups. Invite your customers “inside” to meet your staff for regular discussions and brainstorming about your service.
7. Post actual letters of compliments (and complaints) in the staff lounge or cafeteria. Print them in your newsletter with replies and follow-up communications.
8. Video your customers speaking directly to the camera about your company’s service. Edit the tape to use in staff orientation, training sessions, management meetings – even to show at the company dinner and dance. Customer compliments are powerful motivators for excellent service. Genuine complaints can be a wake-up call to improve customer experience.
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Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling “UP! Your Service” books and founder of UP! Your Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit UpYourService.com.
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About Ron Kaufman
Ron is one of the world’s most sought-after educators, consultants, thought-leaders and customer service speakers in achieving superior service.
He is the author of New York Times bestseller ‘Uplifting Service’ and 14 other books on service, business and inspiration. Ron is also a regular columnist at Bloomberg Business Week and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and USA Today.