Imagine this scenario. A customer of your upscale grocery food market is getting married and wants nothing more than to serve your specialty red and white wines to her over 200 guests. Sounds like a great sale right? Unfortunately, the policy at your store is that you don’t allow bulk purchases of wine and if something does go on sale, there is a small limit of how much you can buy.
Now imagine this customer called into your customer service center and talked with a script-reading representative who was not empowered to provide a remarkable customer experience. Most likely, this customer would hear “I’m sorry Mrs.; it is against store policy to sell you more than 3 bottles of wine.”
An unfortunate missed opportunity to WOW.
This situation played out a few years back, may not affect your brand like it would today. Today, however, this missed attempt at helping a customer would be all over social media, shared with hundreds, if not thousands of people, not to mention with all of the wedding guests.
Thankfully, this real life situation happened a few weeks ago with a customer engagement center that understood the difference between customer service and a customer experience. Recognizing a fantastic opportunity, the representative identified the store most frequented by the customer, made sure enough bottles were in stock and ready to go for pickup. The experience didn’t stop there. They also offered the customer 50% off her favorite steaks to enjoy with the wine as well. The customer was ecstatic.
This is the new expectation for customer service. Welcome to 2014–It’s all about the experience.
How do you adjust to these expectations?
1) Get Over Yourself In the eyes of the customer, it’s not about you. Not your product , your awards, your great employees, your business experience or anything else that starts with YOU…stop thinking about YOU. Reposition your thinking and ask yourself “What problem am I solving?” and “How am I making a difference in someone’s life?” When you begin to think in a customer-centric way, the customer will become the center of everything you do. This shift in thinking is how a culture based around the customer experience evolves.
2) Break the Rules While rules and processes are necessary to keep a business in line, a level of empowerment needs to be given to team members when the customer experience will be impacted. Like the example given above, rules are better off broken when a win-win opportunity presents itself.
3) Start Now The road to elevated customer experiences and delighted customers doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a cultural overtaking that starts with how you hire, train, empower and motivate. One way to start the mindset shift right now is by changing titles. Instead of having a “supervisor”, how about having a “coach”? Or instead of having a “call center agent”, how about having a “customer advocate”? Of course the purpose of these title transitions need to be communicated so the team member fully understands how they play a role in the cultural progression.
4) Keep Learning The road to a superior, customer-centric company is ongoing. Keep engaging with others on best practices and never stop reading on the topic. Check out this link on the “15 Essential Books on How to Love Customers.” The first book mentioned I read a few years back and it completely changed my perspective on the importance of customer service. A good read to pick up for your team members.
What are your tips to adjust to the new expectations of customer service?