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Customer Service and Twitter

The popular notion stating that if a customer receives poor service, he/she will tell nine other people, has been grossly out of date since the advent of the Internet. In reality, customers can electronically tell millions of people about their experiences. And now, with Twitter, people can tell others about their experiences as they happen.

Think about the power of that ability. In the past there was at least a cool down period between the negative service situation and the opportunity to share the news – and we might’ve just let it go without taking the time to write it up. Now, we can now share the situation while our emotions are still high, and do it in 140 characters or less. It takes mere seconds.

I’ve seen tweets such as; “Can you believe Dr. (insert name) has kept me waiting for two-hours?” “I’m at (insert name of restaurant). The service here stinks.” No blog needed, just a Twitter account and a smartphone. It’s liberating for customers and scary for businesses.

But I believe there’s an opportunity here for businesses to stress the importance of service. What if every customer interaction was conducted with a “Twitter-worthy” mindset? In your next team meeting, ask your employees to think about this question:

“In every customer interaction you have, imagine the customer is going to immediately ‘tweet’ about their experience. What would they communicate instantly to all of their contacts about their interaction with you?”

It isn’t just a hypothetical question – it’s a real issue that is increasing every day.

Engaged Employees

The link between employee engagement and customer engagement has been well established. So, check this out with that link in mind. A Harris Interactive poll of 23,000 U.S. residents employed full-time in key industries and key functional areas found the following:

  • Only 37% said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why.
  • Only one in five was enthusiastic about their organization’s goals.
  • Only one in five said they have a clear “line of sight” between their tasks and their organization’s goals.
  • Only 15% felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals.
  • Only 20% fully trusted the organization they work for.

Is it any wonder that customer service tends to be so bad?

For leaders, this list should provide some guidance on how to increase employee engagement. What can you do, for example, to provide a clear line of sight between an employee’s tasks and the organization’s goals?

For employees, the list should provide some guidance on how to make themselves indispensible to the organization. What can you do, for example, that demonstrates you do have a clear line of sight to the organizations goals? And if you don’t have a clear line of sight to the goals, what actions can you take in order to gain it?

The DNA of Service Excellence

I find some organizations overcomplicate the subject of customer service, while others oversimplify the subject. Those that overcomplicate it try to take on everything at once, attempting to change their culture in an unrealistically short time and end up frozen – everyone too confused to take action.

Those organizations that oversimplify the subject of customer service see it as a matter of getting employees to smile and to say “please” and “thank you.” While those things are important, they aren’t enough.

Four elements make up the DNA of service excellence. When these four items are present, you dramatically increase the likelihood that your customers feel they are receiving excellent service. The elements are represented in the following graphic:

DNA of Service Excellence by you.

The Customer – It’s clear that many organizations design their processes for their own convenience rather than for the convenience of the customer. World-class service organizations, on the other hand, design the experience with the “Lens of the Customer” as the foundation for process design. Those times you are pleasantly surprised by the ease of working with a company, asking yourself, “Why can’t other companies do it this way?” are indicators of a company with a Lens of the Customer mindset.

The Lens of the Customer mindset also applies to the moment-by-moment behaviors of employees. Employees of world-class service organizations seem to have a sixth sense of what customers are thinking, what their state of mind might be, and how they can help at that moment. Customers perceive that the employees truly care about them.

Does everyone in your organization see the experience through the Lens of the Customer?

The Service Environment – The service environment includes the physical elements of your operation. The store sales floor, the bank branch office, and the hospital waiting room are all part of the service environment. But it also includes the organization’s parking lot, Web site, marketing materials, flower beds and anything else the customer sees, hears, touches, etc. Anything out of alignment causes a disconnect in the mind of the customer. “Everything Speaks!” Customers may not consciously notice every detail, but subconsciously clues to the organization’s overall quality are communicated.

Knowing that Everything Speaks, what are the details of your operation saying to your customers?

The Service Delivery – World-class service organizations create an experience in which customers feel they are important, listened to, and valued. The goal is to “Create a Wow” experience for customers – and it’s not that hard to do. Wowing customers simply entails moving from a task mentality to an experience mentality, creating little wows that add up to an overall extraordinary experience.

Think about the behaviors that make customers of your organization feel important, listened to, and valued. The likelihood is that the behaviors include such things as eye contact, asking clarifying questions, remember names/details, and yes, saying “please” and “thank you.” Such behaviors are so rare in today’s world that an organization full of employees who actually do these things sets itself apart from the pack.

Do the behaviors of all employees make your customer say or think, ‘wow’?

Processes – While employees may want to provide excellent service to customers, there are sometimes organizational barriers that impede or prevent them from performing at the desired service level. World-class organizations work hard to identify and alleviate/eliminate barriers that frustrate customers as well as employees. They do everything they can to “Set Employees Up for Success.”

How many times have you been so frustrated by a company’s processes that it didn’t matter how friendly the employees were? When employees are set up to fail you can see it in their faces and you can hear it in their voices. When employees know they can’t win, they disengage from the customer experience and progressively bury their emotions.

On the other hand, when employees feel set up for success, when they feel they have the tools needed to deliver excellent service, they want to engage with customers. A sense of confidence is evident in employees who know they have what they need to handle any customer issue.

Do your employees have the tools needed to deliver world-class customer service?

So, service excellence is as simple and as complicated as these four elements. Simple because focusing on just these four elements yields truly outstanding results. Complicated because leaving out any one of the elements dramatically compromises the quality of the customer experience.

Here are the four questions once again to ask about your organization’s service:

  • Does everyone in your organization see the experience through the Lens of the Customer?
  • Knowing that Everything Speaks, what are the details of your operation saying to your customers?
  • Do the behaviors of all employees make your customer say or think, ‘wow’?
  • Do your employees have the tools needed to deliver world-class customer service?

Design With the Customer In Mind

Apple rightly gets a lot of credit for product design. They’ve somehow mastered the art of creating intuitive applications that others have yet to duplicate, or at least have yet to duplicate as effectively as the Apple original. I hope to pick up my iPhone tomorrow!

 

But, I must say that Amazon’s Kindle is right up there with the best designed products I’ve seen. If you’re not familiar with the Kindle, check it out here. I just got one for my birthday (my 50th!?!) and absolutely love it. I’m always reading and with the amount of travel I do I’m usually lugging at least two or three books with me. But no more! The Kindle holds 1,500 books which should last me quite some time. Searching for and downloading books takes mere seconds, and I’ve already downloaded several novels and business books, as well as issues of my hometown newspaper to read while I’m on the road. This week they’ve released a new version, the Kindle DX that’s larger and appropriate for reading newspapers and textbooks, but I’m perfectly happy with my version.

 

I have to admit I was skeptical at first. I like the feel of a book in my hands and with business books I do a lot of highlighting and note taking. Well, it turns out you can highlight and take notes with the Kindle, along with the capability of going directly to any highlight or note you desire. I was also concerned about the size of the font, since I’m getting old. Turns out you can adjust the font size. What about finding where you left off in your reading of a book? You can “dog ear” your page for instant access. There’s also a search function so you can look up any word in the book (like a story character’s name you want to refresh your memory on). And if you come across a word you don’t know? Just highlight it and the definition of the word appears. And finally, if you really don’t feel like reading, you can simply turn on the voice function and the book reads to you. It is an absolutely amazing product.

 

My Kindle is the second version, so I can’t speak to how well designed the first version was, but I heard very good reviews. I have to believe that a tremendous amount of research was dedicated to creating a product that is intuitive and incredibly flexible. While Kindle is a physical product, it’s so well designed that I see it as a great example of customer service. Wouldn’t it be great if we could say that about every product?

 

amazon_kindle_2 by you.