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StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article

A Customer’s Wish Is Your Command

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article
Photo courtesy of Pexels

The way that customers view your business is paramount to it’s success. If your customers are unhappy with the way that they’ve been treated; you will find that they never come back to you again. Some people in this world are incredibly petty. And, the littlest thing can cause a whole lot of trouble. So, it’s worth making sure that you cover all the bases when it comes to your customer’s service. To help you out, this post will be going through three areas of customer service. And, the ways that you can make sure that they’re running at optimum efficiency. Now, all you have to do is get to work!

Social Media

Social media is one of the greatest gifts given to businesses. For one, it can help loads with marketing and advertising. But, along with this, social media can also be a great place to host some of your customer service. Most people have a social media account of some sort. So, you have a good chance of them being able to reach you through this method. Twitter is probably the best place for customer services. It pairs a simple platform, with a good messaging system and no fuss. Unfortunately, as your business gets bigger looking after customer service on a platform like this will become a fulltime role. You will need to have a staff member dedicated to this job. But, they can also do some other work with social media.

Part of treating your customers well is providing them with easy and accessible information about your products. Customers won’t often go out of their way to learn about your business. But, if they find a Facebook post that they like the look of; you might just real them in. Thankfully, this won’t take as much time as customer service on social media. And, there are even tools available to help. If you can dedicate a day to working on social media, you can set yourself up for months. Making loads of posts at once is a great way to make sure that your content remains consistent. Once you have a stockpile, you can use a tool like Buffer to have the posts that you make automatically posted onto the sites of your choice.

Email/Livechat/Phones

Support comes in various forms. And, one of the best for small businesses is email. A lot of companies have email support because it gives them a way to have cases handled in a timely fashion. Agents won’t be stuck on the phone or on livechat. Instead, they can read an email and get to work. When you provide you users with the chance to email you, it’s critical that you have the right kind of email address. It should match the web-address of your website. And, it should include a word like support somewhere. Most customers will prefer to get their support like this. It enables you to give them all of the information they need in a way that they can use it at their convenience.

Next up in the mix comes live chat. If you want to have live chat support for your customer; you will have to have some staff to cover it. Thankfully, though, you won’t have to have many. It’s not uncommon for live chat operators to be working on 5 or 6 chats at once. This gives you the opportunity to cover a lot more ground. And, will enable you to have issues resolved very quickly. You can have software added to your website that will allow you to have live chat features. This sort of extension will have to be installed by a professional developer, though.

The most traditional form of support comes with phones. Having your customers being able to call your business can have a huge impact on the support that they get. Talking to a human is one of the easiest ways to have something resolved. And, a lot of people know it. Most small businesses won’t have the resources to cope with this on their own, though. So, the help of a virtual call center company could go very far. This sort of service will enable your calls to be mainly handled by a computer. Then, only the ones that need to come to the business will.

Feedback

The feedback that you get from customers is invaluable to your business. It gives you an insight into how your customer think you are doing. And, it can provide you with new ways to improve your business. So, it’s critical that you read the reviews you get. And, in some cases, it can even be worth directly asking for reviews. This should always be done when you’ve had a customer experience encounter with someone. Gathering feedback can be done on your own website. Or, you can use a survey making tool to collect the data for you. The data that you receive is very important, and you should always have a record of it.

Feedback can be a hard game to play. It’s easy to monitor the feedback that you ask for. This information will be stored on your own servers. So, you’ll be able to access it whenever you want. But, the reviews that you get on websites like TripAdvisor and Google Reviews won’t be. Instead, they will be in some far off part of the internet. Thankfully, though, you don’t have to go through every last site to find them. Feedback management software comes in loads of different forms. Some services can monitor different sites for you automatically. But, some will have to be set up by hand. Either way, these are very powerful tools that can give a clear picture of your businesses reputation.

Hopefully, this will inspire you to start trying to improve your customer experience. It’s important to take into account what people think of your business. A lot of companies will let these areas slip and end up with a very bad reputation. Unfortunately, companies can only work like this if they provide a service that no one else does.

CJ Stafford

Don’t Forget to Connect Customer Service Week with Strategy

This week, thousands of organizations around the world are recognizing Customer Service Week. It’s encouraging to see companies across all types of industries make an effort to celebrate their commitment to customer satisfaction. However, many leaders are doing their organizations a disservice by not using Customer Service Week to its fullest potential as a platform for employee engagement that fosters a deeper culture of service.

There’s not a single customer service professional I know who wouldn’t agree that employee engagement is critically important to the service a company ultimately delivers to its customers. As reaffirmed in Gartner’s 2015 report, How to Get Your Customer Service Employees to Care About the Customer, research shows “high levels of employee engagement contribute to higher levels of customer satisfaction.” Yet, Customer Service Week – a time so clearly and publicly dedicated to recognizing customer care – is far too often overlooked as a critical opportunity to strengthen an organization’s relationship with and among its employees. It’s often swept aside as a ‘check-the-box’ activity fulfilled by simply giving staff members branded chotskies. Or it might be five days riddled with a host of activities that have been carefully planned but focus more on the fun than the functional. In many cases, Customer Service Week falls flat on strategy.

As you celebrate Customer Service Week at your organization, ask yourself these three questions to help ensure your initiatives are connected with a larger strategy. Use these considerations as a guide … and you may discover enhancements you can make on the fly to make this important week even more meaningful.

Are your planned activities fun and functional?

Of course, Customer Service Week calls for celebration. But the festivities should go beyond being simply fun and simultaneously serve a purpose that benefits the business. This doesn’t mean you have to cut your creativity short or make what should be lighter, enjoyable activities feel like they’re work. It does, however, require dedicated thought about how to make surface-level initiatives more impactful.

For example, consider a ‘Superhero Showcase’ dress-up day – a nod to the heroic feats customer service representatives are known for pulling off. Beyond building camaraderie by having staff members sport their favorite costumes or t-shirts on a designated day, use the opportunity to have each person share how the traits of their assumed characters relate to providing extraordinary service. This sharing will open up a meaningful discussion about what it means to embody service in its various forms and challenge professionals to think beyond traditional notions of customer service.

Do the activities engage other parts of the company?

The importance of service is hardly limited to the customer service department – and Customer Service Week activities shouldn’t be either. There’s no better time to educate others within the organization about how customer service impacts the business, so use this week (and the weeks that follow) to connect with colleagues in other departments.

One way to do this is by providing employees with a “passport” and including an insert with different missions – such as spending time with peers across the organization – that need to be completed. During those visits, employees can learn about each other’s job functions and how they deliver service to their customers, then report back to their respective teams for broader knowledge sharing. Not only does this exposure enhance employees’ perspectives and further their professional development, it also helps to fortify a consistent company-wide culture of service.

What’s next?

The spotlight on customer service recognition during these five days shouldn’t just be a moment in time. Rather, look at it as a jump-start for longer-term or ongoing initiatives for engaging employees and strengthening the service culture. Use this week as a learning opportunity to determine which approaches and tactics were most successful as well as those that weren’t as well-received … and plan for the future from there.

Did the team have a blast with the superheroes? Keep their enthusiasm going by creating a ‘Superhero Shout-out’ bulletin board in a high-traffic area where they can publicly post and share kudos for their colleagues. Were the passports a hit? That’s your cue to organize more frequent peer-to-peer exchanges among different departments.

Regardless of your approach, keep strategy central to your Customer Service Week celebrations to make them count. For more ideas or to learn more about how you can deliver outstanding care to your customers, visit www.staffcom.com.


About the Author

CJ StaffordCJ Stafford is president of Stafford Communications Group Inc., a boutique company with three distinct, yet complementary, lines of business: outsourced call center services, customer care consulting and marketing services. Stafford works with pharmaceutical, healthcare, food, consumer packaged goods and beauty care companies – ensuring their customer service initiatives are aligned to their marketing programs so they intrinsically support each other.

Sharon Drew Morgen

The Business of Kindness

Lately, while listening to an NPR program, I heard a group of business people discussing kindness.

Kindness – not a word historically associated with corporations, those bastions of male verve – is now being equated with the bottom line. How times have changed. In the 90s when I gave keynotes titled ‘Sales as a Spiritual Practice’ I would get asked: “Yes, but how would we make money?”

Imagine embracing the desire to be helpful and considerate, compassionate and generous as part of accepted business practice. We all know what happens when it’s ignored. We know how workplace issues grind people down, and how infrequently those below the top tier get asked their opinions. We know we lose more good employees to treatment issues than to pay issues. We know that 70% of buying decisions are made by women.

And yet we continue assuming the bottom line is about minimizing costs and maximizing profit.

How Kindness Can Effect Our Bottom Line

The costs of degrading and ignoring employees and making customers conform to our money-saving practices cost us high turnover, a paucity of fresh ideas and new leaders, and the need to hire more supervisory managers to handle the fallout. I know a company here in Austin with a reputation of treating employees so punitively that only naïve out-of-towners apply for the many available jobs.

Research has shown kindness actually increases our bottom line:

  • When employees are asked their opinions, treated respectfully, given jobs that enable them to exhibit excellence regardless of their pay scale, they are more creative, responsible, and loyal. They adopt leadership roles, put in longer hours, and have fewer sick days.
  • When we treat our clients kindly we keep them longer, hear about problems (rather than lose them to competitors), are offered new ideas to monetize, and have brand ambassadors to offer free marketing to connections who may become clients.

Here are a few of my personal experiences of monetizing kindness:

1. Kindness with customers:

a. In Portland recently, I couldn’t locate my correct bus stop. I called the Transit help line and a person answered! And he stayed on the line until I got to my destination!

  • Takeaway: the random acts of kindness I found throughout Portland have led me to prepare to move there.

b. After not receiving my NYTimes for four Sundays, I made two angry calls. The first woman said I would need to speak with a supervisor on Monday; the second woman not only called my local delivery folks, she called back to tell me when the paper would be delivered, called again to make sure I got it, and then left me her cell number in case the problem occurred again.

  • Takeaway: I won’t cancel my subscription.

2. Kindness with employees:

a. In the 80s I ran a tech support company in London with 48 tech folks. Annually, I gave them $2000 to take a week off to renew themselves by attending any course they wanted (photography, cooking). I also required them to take off one day a month to do volunteer work. And at least four times I year went to their job sites (and they were not my direct reports), took them to lunch, and picked their brains on ways we could do better for them and for our clients. Their ideas were terrific. As a side note, I often ran into competitors at conferences who said they tried to hire my folks away yet couldn’t pry them from my grip. “What are you doing to those folks?” I was just respecting them.

  • Takeaway: there was no turnover in 4 years; the tech folks called us whenever they heard rumors of new business and I was in place by the time the vendor delivered the product.

b. I hired a full time ‘make nice’ guy whose job it was to visit staff and clients on site to make sure the relationships and programming worked efficiently, nipping problems in the bud. With no fires to fight I had nothing to do but grow my company.

  • Takeaway: revenue doubled annually; I had a 42% net profit.

The How of Kindness: Using Listening Skills Enhance Relationships

I believe the process of listening is one of the skills that will enable us to be kind. Not only do we need to set up client Listening Conferences and staff Listening Hours, we must hear what’s being said between the lines. My new book What? Did you really say what I think I heard? explains whatever we listen for determines what we hear. So rather than merely listen for problems, we must listen for the patterns in the problems: Lots of turnover? What are we ignoring that can be resolved? Bottom line decreasing due to competition? What are clients telling us that we haven’t been listening for?

Through the years, with clients and staff, coachees and colleagues, I have found the biggest obstacle to authentic communication is how imperfectly we hear others. Far too often we enter conversations with a bias and miss what’s being conveyed that falls outside the range of expectation. Imagine if we approach our conversations with the bias of kindness:

  • An employee is perpetually late with work assignments: is there something going on in the department, with other employees, with her work load, that is causing the problem?
  • Customer service folks must recognize patterns in complaints and become leaders in resolving problems rather than maintaining the status quo. I recently heard a rep say: “I’ve had lots of complaints about this. But there are no plans to fix it.”

How can we monetize kindness with staff and clients? It’s possible to make money AND be kind. Let’s begin the conversation.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is a visionary, original thinker, and thought leader in change management and decision facilitation. She works as a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant, and has authored 9 books including the NYTimes Business BestsellerSelling with Integrity. Morgen developed the Buying Facilitation® method (www.sharondrewmorgen.com) in 1985 to facilitate change decisions, notably to help buyers buy and help leaders and coaches affect permanent change. Her newest book What? www.didihearyou.com explains how to close the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She can be reached at [email protected]

Jeffrey Gitomer

Serve Memorably

Think about the most memorable service you have ever received. Ever tell anyone about it?

Now think about the service you provide to your customers. How many people are talking about you?

ANSWER: Not enough.

Every time a customer calls it’s an opportunity. The only question is: how are you taking advantage of it?

Don’t answer with a “thank you for the call,” telling me how important my call is while you put me on hold for the next available agent. Or to “serve me better,” ask me to select from among the following eight options.

Selecting from among the following eight options is not one of MY options – and I have the money – and you want the money – and you need the money – so wise up.

The last things employers should cut are sales, service, and training. The FIRST thing to cut is executive pay, then management pay, then eliminate middle management as needed. OR MAKE THEM SALESPEOPLE, and have them contribute to the effort.

Meanwhile, customers need help, service, and answers. Your ability to help them in a timely manner, and serve them memorably, determines your reputation and your fate.

What actions are you willing to take? What investment are you willing to make? Do you understand it’s ALL about customer loyalty (not customer satisfaction)?

MAJOR CLUE: Keep in mind that no company ever CUT their way to success.

REALITY: You cut your way to safety. You have to SELL your way to success.

How ready are you?

If you want to win in this or any economy, you must be ready to win – ready with the right attitude, the right information, and the right service heart.

IF YOU BREAK THE SERVE MEMORABLY LAW: If a computer answers your phone, you have broken the law. If you use the word ‘policy,’ you have broken the law. Start there. The penalty for breaking this law is two-fold. Loss of reputation AND loss of customer. There are very few laws that have a higher penalty, and very few laws that are EASIER to fix. You don’t have to worry about monitoring your bad service. Your customers will do it for you, on Facebook and on Twitter. Your job is to fix it and continually improve it.

IF YOU FOLLOW THE SERVE MEMORABLY LAW: Your business reputation, both online and person-to-person, will soar! You’ll become known for taking ordinary daily business actions and turning them into pleasant customer surprises. The result is not just more business – it’s more loyal customers, more referrals, greater reputation, and more profit.

Think about that the next time you ask me to “select from among the following eight options.”

CAUTION: Ordinary, even polite, service is unacceptable. It will not give you the competitive edge or the business advantage that memorable service will.

At the end of any transaction, that’s when the customer STARTS talking about you.

They will say one of five things about what transpired:

  • Something great
  • Something good
  • Nothing
  • Something bad
  • Something real bad

And whatever they say leads to the next sale – either at your place, or your competition’s place.

The cool part is: you choose.

AHA! My ‘memorable mantra:’ Find something personal; do something memorable.

AHA! Grow from good, to great, to memorable.

KEY TO IMPLEMENTATION: Start with smart, happy people. Then define what is memorable and how everyone can achieve memorability with daily interactions (Southwest Airlines does it with friendly people and humor). Meet with all senior people and staff to create the ideas that wow, and gain the permission to wow at the same time. Then train AND empower everyone with specific phrases and actions they can take on behalf of customers.

Excerpt from Law 12: Serve Memorably from my Jeffrey’s new book, 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


About the Author

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

Jeffrey Gitomer

The Secret of Lousy Service and Why it Happens

QUESTION: Why does lousy service occur?
ANSWER: Lousy service happens because (big) companies don’t understand people OR training.

I am amazed at how many times someone in a service environment delivers lousy service. And it’s often not just lousy – add rude, offensive, abrasive, defensive, maddening, and most of all disappointing.

GREAT NEWS: It doesn’t have to be like that.

If I take the time to complain, which I rarely do anymore, the manager will always ask, “Did you get the name of the person?” Somehow getting the name of the person is important to the manager. But it is unimportant to me. I never get their name.

The manager is looking to blame someone. I’m looking for someone to accept responsibility. The manager is NEVER the one who takes it.

I have found poor service is a reflection of the company and its leaders, not just the person who delivered it.

MY REALITY: When a manager asks me for the person’s name who delivered lousy service, I reply, “Don’t yell at the person who gave me lousy service. Yell at the person who trained them.” The person delivering poor service is most likely to have been poorly trained or ill trained, or both. They’re doing what they were trained to do, and say what they were trained to say.

Or the employee will ‘modify training’ and make statements based on their ‘at the moment’ feelings:

  • Sorry about that…
  • That’s our policy…
  • I’m just doing my job…
  • They don’t pay me to think…
  • I’m just a peon…

Or worse, they become defensive, even rude, when a customer expresses frustration or anger as a reaction to what happened. Employees do that because someone TAUGHT THEM they don’t have to take gruff from a customer. (REALITY: The customer provides the money for their paycheck).

Ever get poor service at an airline? Of course you have, EVERYONE HAS. It happens because the people who work at the airlines are undertrained, poorly managed, feel put upon by their management and their leadership, underpaid, rarely if ever praised, and are exposed to constant customer complaints. They don’t like their job, they don’t like or respect their leader, they don’t like their company, and they don’t like the people they serve. Not good.

Now granted, this is a generalization, but I’m in the air enough to make the comment based on 20 years of flying experience. I get an occasional nice person. I have an occasional pleasant experience. But they are so rare that I actually go up to the person and thank them for being nice, for being happy, and for being friendly.

So let’s get back to the question at hand. Why does lousy service exist?

Who is responsible to make great service possible?
Who is responsible to make great service happen?

I always ask people in service positions, “How’s it going?” Most people respond in some negative fashion. Statements like, “Well, tomorrow is Friday!” or “I’ll let you know in two hours when I get off.” or “You’re kidding, right?”

These are losing, self-defeating statements. Statements made by people who fail to understand that doing their best, having a great attitude, and having a high sense of personal pride have nothing to do with the job. They have everything to do with who you are as a person.

Most of the front-line servers are in low-paying positions. When you combine that with our “feeling of entitlement” workforce and with training that’s all about the company, with a smattering of, “smile, greet the customer, thank the customer,” you have a perfect setting for mediocre or lousy service to occur most of the time.

About now, you want answers to this dilemma. I have them. They revolve around four words you already know: positive attitude and personal pride. But there is way more to these four words than your known definition.

Positive attitude and personal pride hold the key to your success, and they will be discussed in-depth next week.

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


About the Author

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].