Entries Tagged as 'Guest Blogger'

Why Your Customer Service Should Influence Customer Engagement

I hope you enjoy this guest post from Monika Götzmann of Miller Heiman Group.

Why Your Customer Service Should Influence Customer Engagement – by Monika Götzmann

Engaged customers are extremely valuable, and can be described as those who have a personal connection to a brand. Research from Rosetta found that engaged customers spend 60 percent more per transaction, while they are also three times more likely to recommend a product to a friend, according to the Harvard Business Review.

In the past, customer engagement was primarily generated through marketing and sales “touchpoints.” However, in the current business climate, the best way to influence customer engagement may be through investing in customer service training and ensuring you deliver a continuously great customer experience.

Modern Customer Cynicism

Studies show that customers are more cynical than ever before. They are more likely to see through advertising claims, less likely to respond to offers and increasingly rely on the opinions of friends. Indeed, Smart Insights found that only 18.31 percent of marketing emails are opened and the average click-through rate is just 2.06 percent.

In addition, the internet and the inter-connected nature of the modern age has meant that customers now expect to be able to form deeper, more meaningful relationships with companies. This is where customer service plays a role, because most of the meaningful interactions customers have will be with customer service staff.

Delivering Great Customer Service

An American Express study found that 59 percent of customers would try a new brand if it meant they would receive a better service experience. This highlights the importance of delivering great customer service and in particular, customer service courses should emphasize product knowledge, friendliness and personalization.

Meanwhile, multiple surveys have shown that long delays in being able to get in touch with a customer service agent is a top source of frustration and a major obstacle to engagement. Customers want a human touch. They want to be able to speak to a real person, who listens, addresses their concerns and tries to provide them with solutions.

Effective Use of Social Media

One of the best ways to influence engagement via customer service is through the use of social media platforms as fast response channels to speed up the customer query process. Sites like Facebook and Twitter provide an opportunity for brands to make more personal connections, although customers have high expectations, demand quick responses and want companies to go the extra mile. It is best practice to ensure customers are notified directly on the platform’s main page how fast they can expect responses and if the customer service team can only respond during business hours for instance.

“The rise of the social web has led to a fundamental shift in the way businesses of all sizes engage with their customers,” says Wendy Lea from Inc.com. “Companies that engage with their customers via social media have more loyal customers. Better yet, customers who engage with a brands online report spending 20% to 40% more.” However, brands must carefully choose which social media platforms they wish to have a presence on as “being everywhere” is not best practice. Knowing where the majority of your audience is on social media is key in order to decide on the best platforms, and setting up a comprehensive engagement and customer service response plan.

Author Bio:

Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company. It specializes in providing exceptional customer service training courses and helps organizations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership training.

 

Guest Post – Leading Innovative Service, by Chip Bell

Customer service and business expert Chip Bell has long been an influence on my work. His many books and articles reflect a true understanding of what makes businesses and their customers tick. And I’m fortunate that we have become friends. I’m thrilled that he has a new book coming out February 14 – Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service that Sparkles. I’ve had a chance to read a sample, and can’t wait until the full book arrives (I’ve pre-ordered it at Amazon – http://amzn.to/2iY81Tw.) My favorite line in the book so far is, “Good is the key to customer retention, but unique is the secret to customer advocacy.

While waiting for the book be available on February 14, Chip offered to write a guest post for my blog. I think you’ll enjoy it and find it to be valuable.

Leading Innovative ServiceScreen Shot 2017-01-21 at 4.19.51 PM

By Chip R. Bell

Value-added has been the service solution for many service exemplars–take what the customer expects and add a little more. Nordstrom sales clerk escorts you to another department far from their own. Southwest Airlines gives you free peanuts with slapstick humor. Airlines upgrade frequent flyers; hotels put loyal guests on the fancy-floor concierge level. And Rosie’s Diner refills your ice tea glass without you being charged.

But value added extras have gotten a lot more expensive. That free snack on a flight is now eight dollars and service charges are standard fare on most bills.   Pursuing the extras can also send a very mixed message. What do employees think when told to “wow” customers in the morning and informed of staff cutbacks and expense reductions in the afternoon? Challenging financial times call for a new approach: value-unique service.Value-unique is different than value-added. Ask customers what would be value-added and they focus on taking the expected to a higher-level…meaning “they gave me more than I anticipated.” But, value-unique is not about addition, it’s about an imaginative creation. When service people are asked to give more, they think to themselves, “I am already doing the best I can.” But, if asked to pleasantly surprise more customers, they feel less like worker bees and more like fireflies. And, when employees get to create, not just perform, they feel prized.

But, how do leaders foster customer service that takes customers breath away? What is it that leads employees to think “value-unique,” not just the familiar, too-expensive “value added?”

Project Realness

Innovative service leaders know they get from employees the attitude they project. Employees do not watch the leader’s mouth; they watch the leader’s moves. As all leaders move in the floodlight of employee observation, their actions can telegraph either optimism or gloom; excitement or despair. Great leaders know that an animated attitude is contagious.   When we are around happy, upbeat people, it is much easier for us to join in the spirit––especially if the invitation to join is coming from someone who clearly prefers we enroll. An unbridled spirit has a magnetic power on both customers and employees.

Protect Customers

Tasks are important; rules are essential. But, revenue comes from customers. Innovative service leaders encourage and empower employees to put customers first; not procedures. This is not about deliberately violating a safety decree or putting the organization at risk. Archie’s manager Osman Shaw is quick to say: “Archie loves customers. We get more letters about him than anyone else. So, we encourage Archie to ‘do Archie.’ I wish I had a dozen more like him.”

Provide Trust

Innovative service happens when there is an atmosphere of trust–where people are considerate and supportive. If people are given license to criticize colleagues behind their back, the setting turns to one of suspicion. If manipulative or unfair behavior is tolerated, the climate turns to one of protection. It requires leaders disciplined enough to model thoughtfulness and hold others accountable for the same.

Preserve Integrity

Innovative service leaders are grounded and laced in complete, total, wall-to-wall, no-exceptions integrity. They stand on integrity; they are constructed of integrity, they reek of integrity. Such leaders do not do half-assed integrity–as Tom Peters says, “There is no such thing as a minor lapse of integrity.” They show their nobility when they courageously tell the truth, relentlessly do what they say they will do, and gallantly turn their backs on all shady actions. They know they send signals through their character—a word rooted in the concept of engraved.

Challenging times require a departure from “the way we’ve always done things.” Customer expectations are not waning. Expectations are increasing as economically challenged customers demand increased value for their diminishing funds. As organizations scramble to shore up value, the time is ripe for service with inventiveness, not just service with generosity. It calls for leaders who ensure the ingredients they add to their leadership recipe are those that advance service innovation.

 

Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books. His newest book is Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles. He can be reached at chipbell.com.

 

 

 

Little Things Can Mean A Lot When Customer Service Improvement Is Needed

My guest blogger today is Ron Kaufman, founder of Up Your Service! College. In this post he writes about a subject near and dear to my heart: it’s usually the little courtesies and gestures that have the biggest impact on the customer experience.

I can relate to the hotel experience he shares. Like Ron, I don’t really need a huge and ornate hotel room. But I do appreciate a room that is well thought out through the lens of the guest. (And I’ve always wondered how some hotels do the mirror thing he mentions!)

Little Things Can Mean A Lot When Customer Service Improvement Is Needed – by Ron Kaufman

Customer service improvement doesn’t always call for sweeping or costly changes. Sometimes, very little touches can go a long way.

At the Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul, Korea, the rooms are not large, but a few thoughtful touches combine to make a big difference.

There is the usual range of amenities: slippers, bathrobes, room safe, mini-bar, hairdryer, voicemail, etc.

But the bathroom mirror has a heater installed behind it, just above the sink. After a shower when the room is steamy, that small section of mirror remains clear. This is a customer service improvement guests notice.

There is a box of tissues in the bathroom, of course, but another box sits by the bed in an attractive container.

A laundry bag is waiting when I arrive; that’s normal. But inside the closet an empty shopping bag is also provided for my use. It’s large and strong and very sleek, silver-colored with dark blue ribbon handles. There is no big brand name of the hotel emblazoned on the side, only an elegant print near the top edge that says: “Your Bag.”

I think I’ll bring it home inside my luggage.

Ever stayed in a hotel room that was big, but not very special? My room at the hotel is just the opposite, small in size but very big in little pleasures. Every little customer service improvement stands out and works well for the Westin without costing a lot in the process.

Key Learning Point For Customer Service Improvement

You can use this strategy, too. Make a big customer service improvement by paying attention to the little things that count. Maybe it’s the personal note you write, or remembering a customer’s preference from one visit to another. Perhaps it’s pre-filling a form on your customer’s behalf, or keeping track of an order and calling ahead to reconfirm delivery.

Action Steps For Customer Service Improvement

Your action steps needn’t be big, bold or expensive. Often it’s the little things that make a big difference in service.

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! College. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit UpYourService.com.

What Goes Around Comes Around in Employee Relations

My guest blogger today is Don Tanner of Tanner Friedman, a strategic communications firm. Be sure to visit their site, and especially click on the OUR TURN tab to check out some terrific ideas in each of the three categories, Blog, Perspectives, and News.

Don’s article below is a perfect compliment to my recent post, The Frontline Equals the Bottom Line. I love Don’s line about how leaders sometimes “fire poison tipped arrows directly at their own people.” Sad but true.

I hope you enjoy this thought-provoking article!

What Goes Around Comes Around in Employee Relations – by Don Tanner

How do you treat your employees? Do you guide and mentor and set them up for success, or, do you badger and belittle and set them up for failure?

I am continually amazed by stories I hear. How about the boss that does not provide a roadmap for future growth (”Keep on doing what you’re doing”) and then chides the employee when certain un-communicated milestones are not met in their mind. Or, the superior that gives “all or nothing” ultimatums rather than guiding and encouraging the colleague towards success in reaching particular goals.

Such individuals-in-charge seem to operate out of fear and ego. Don’t they realize that they are stifling and paralyzing their greatest resource for sustained and future success – their employees? Sadly, no. And when times get tough, rather than rallying the troops and circling the wagons, they fire poison tipped arrows directly at their own people.

The biggest barrier to change for such individuals, in my experience, is their past successes. “My way works so why not keep doing it” seems to be their motto. What they don’t realize (and find out in time) is that treating people badly always comes back to haunt you. It may take 5 years, it may take 20 years but your reputation (cemented by all of the former employees you treated poorly) will soon precede you and the death knell for your company becomes only a matter of time.

As the 80’s “hair band” Ratt so famously sang: “‘Round and ‘Round.”

Ten Characteristics of Bad Customer Service

My guest blogger today is Meredith Estep, Vice President of Client Services with Unitiv. Unitiv is a provider of IT solutions based in Alpharetta, Georgia. You can find Meredith’s regular blog posts at Intelligent Help Desk Blog.

I’ve followed Meredith’s writing for some time, and I’m always impressed with how she gets to the heart of what is important. This post, the Ten Characteristics of Bad Customer Service, is a great checklist to pass around to the team just as  a reminder of those negative customer service behaviors that we all trip over – usually unintentionally.

Ten Characteristics of Bad Customer Service – by Meredith Estep

In customer service, it only takes one negative incident to lose a client for life. In this article, we will take a look at ten common characteristics of bad customer service with the purpose of showing alternatives that would serve customers much more efficiently and positively.

1. Failing to greet customers when they walk in the door.
A customer that is not acknowledged upon entering your business will not feel like the valuable commodity that they are.

2. Hanging up on an angry customer.
No one likes being yelled at, but disgruntled customers sometimes need time to vent before dealing with their concerns in a rational manner. If the customer becomes abusive, get a manager. Never hang up on a customer.

3. Eating in front of customers.
No one wants to watch someone eat their lunch – or even a mid-morning donut. Leave the food for the break room and keep your mouth clear for talking to your customers.

4. Putting a call on hold without asking first.
It is a simple courtesy to ask before putting someone on hold.  In addition, you are less likely to have the customer hang up in frustration when the elevator music starts to blare.

5. Avoiding eye contact with a customer.
When you are talking to someone, you want to know that other person is listening to what you say. Customer service representatives who do not make eye contact look rude at best, and downright shifty or dishonest to others.

6. Socializing with other employees when customers are present.
Customers do not care to hear about your plans for Friday night. Unless you are asking a question about your customer’s business specifically, stop all personal conversations until there are no customers in the vicinity.

7. Forgetting to use common courtesies.
“Please” and “thank you” are mainstays in customer service. Unfortunately, they are not used nearly as often as they should be. Common niceties exude professionalism, as well as courtesy, and should be used without fail.

8. Yelling at a customer.
Let the customer vent and then deal with their complaint in a calm, rational manner.

9. Using technical jargon when talking to customers.
You do not need to talk down to your customers, but it is helpful to use language they understand when explaining company policies and procedures. Leave the technical jargon for your coworkers.

10. Complaining about the company to customers.
There are no exceptions to this rule.  There is never an appropriate time to bad-mouth your own company to a customer.  This could potentially cost your company money or even lose the customer altogether.

Bad customer service is prevalent today, but it is not hard to overcome. By studying the bad, you can replace it with stellar service that will boost your customer base and your profits.