I saw this quote in a post on Adrian Swinscoe’s website, “Try not to fall into the trap of the shiny and pretty and make sure you get the basics right.” I couldn’t agree more. So many customer experience professionals are out there on a trek to find the holy grail of CX and it is a journey where the shiny and new is often alluring, however, that route often fails though because so many businesses are not getting the most basic things right. So, what are those basics and how can we improve?
Three things come to mind as basic elements of a great experience, 1) easy processes, 2) enjoyable people, and 3) effective products.
Have you ever made a call as a customer trying to get something accomplished only to find it trying or difficult? If so, you know how important ease of systems is. Being able to get things done without tremendous effort is the essence of service. I mean, we pay others to do the work for us, that’s what businesses are for, that’s what service is. And if it’s difficult, do you begin wondering what you’re paying for? Here are some questions to ask of your business to see if it’s making things easy or not:
- How many calls does the average customer have to make to get a problem solved?
- How many different people or departments do customers have to speak with to get a problem solved?
- How many times does a customer have to repeat their story, their account number, or anything else?
- How many hoops does the customer have to jump through (forms to fill, research to do, wait time for answers, etc.)?
Take a hard look. Is your operation easy or difficult?
One of the biggest reasons customers list for dissatisfaction is indifference of the staff. We’ve all been there. We’ve all had a provider roll their eyes at a request or sigh when asked to do something like we’ve asked them to scale Everest. And that’s not all, I am sure you’ve experienced flat out rudeness or lack of courtesy as if customers are obstacles rather than the reason the business exists. All of these things stand in direct opposition to a good experience and must be improved if any real progress is to be made in the customer experience realm. Here are some questions to ask of your employees to see if they are making things enjoyable or not:
- Do your employees make customers feel welcome? Do customers get a smile and a warm greeting, even if it’s on the phone?
- Do your employees ask questions to learn exactly what customers need, want, or are struggling with? Are customers invited to provide input and share their story?
- Do employees listen with full attention? Do they paraphrase key points back so that customers know they were heard?
- Do employees gladly share information that clearly explains things? Do customers leave knowing exactly what to expect, what’s happening next, what they need to do, etc.?
- Do employees leave interactions by showing genuine appreciation to customers? Do customers leave feeling they are valued?
Again, take a hard look. Is working with your team members enjoyable?
Ultimately, this is the biggest test because this is fundamentally what customers come to you for in the first place. They have a need and you fulfill it. That’s what businesses do, they help people accomplish things and if you’re not doing it effectively, your days are numbered. Here are some more questions to ask yourself to evaluate the effectiveness of your products/solutions:
- Do you truly know what it is your customers want to accomplish? Is this a question asked of everyone? Are you looking for innovative options to help them achieve more?
- Are your customers successful in accomplishing their objectives? Do you follow up to find out?
- What are you offering before purchase to help them? What about after purchase, what ongoing support is there?
- How responsive are you to their problems? Do customers feel they are a priority or are they a number on a list? How are you ensuring that their problems will be solved and not pushed under the rug?
Go out and observe, ask customers for their thoughts, get to know what’s really happening no matter how painful the truth might be. Are you really providing effective products/solutions?
Here’s the final word. If your business isn’t easy to work with, if interactions are worse than a trip to an oral surgeon, and your products and services don’t genuinely help people achieve success, start updating your resume because your company will be out of business soon. But you can improve, you can take action, you can engage your employees in finding ways to make it all better. Believe me, they know the problems and they have answers. Ask them what they think, ask them for their ideas, and then help them implement change. The shiny, pretty new ideas are floating around everywhere, and they can be as inviting as the sirens on the seas, but don’t fall into the trap, fix the basics first and you will see rewards.