The experience you create for each customer can go one of two ways: delightful or dreadful. Do it right consistently, and your brand can outshine the competition; do it wrong just a few times, and your brand can suffer lasting damage. Customer experience delivers a personality—something intangible that goes beyond the company and product or service. A winning personality leaves customers with positive, lasting memories and builds reputations that stand out in the marketplace.
Quite a few companies have built their company or brand around customer service. They might not have the best product or the best prices, but you can always count on excellent service. On the flip side, some companies that have great products become better known for their lack of customer service.
With Company A, if you order a product online and it’s broken when delivered, you can count on talking to someone who will send a new one with express shipping. With Company B, you can expect to wait on hold for what seems like hours before you even talk to a less-than-helpful representative.
So, what’s the secret sauce to being like Company A?
Hire the right people
We’ve learned that delivering outstanding customer experience starts with hiring the “right” people. First, hire people you want to work with. If you don’t want to work with them, you definitely don’t want to put them in front of a client. When interviewing, ask yourself if you want to sit next to this person. Don’t hire someone based solely on technical abilities—you can always find people that have the right job skills or experience to get the job done. Someone who is highly qualified may or may not be a good “fit” in terms of social and human skills.
With this hiring approach, we feel confident that everyone on our staff—from customer support team members to account managers, and from developers to UX designers—can talk with our clients and provide an exceptional customer experience. Not every client call is a happy call, but with the right people they go much more smoothly. When you can empathize with the client and deliver on promises, you’re in Company A territory.
Provide human interaction
Thanks to wonderful technology, customers often can choose how to interact with customer support: online chat, email, call center, or FAQs. All of these options have their time and place, but it is abundantly clear that customers still want to talk with someone on the phone when they need immediate attention. Our experience shows that providing support options is great for flexibility, but you must also give customers the choice of good, old-fashioned human interaction. Make sure your customers can pick up the phone and get someone on the other end to listen and address their needs.
We live in an age when everyone expects everything to be done now. While not all problems can be resolved in the moment, make sure to set a customer’s expectations about how long it will take. When possible, over deliver. There’s no sense in fixing something if by the time you finish the customer is so frustrated they no longer value the fix.
Offer free service (whenever possible)
It’s bad enough the customer’s widget isn’t working; being told there’s a charge to figure out how to fix it is salt in the wound. Pay-for-support is a business model that might work for large household appliances, but for most items it turns into a nightmare customer experience. That’s just not how most Company A’s roll.
We’ve had success providing free—yes, free—basic troubleshooting and training for our clients. This offering cuts down on their frustration, and it keeps them happy and more inclined to hire us for future assignments. Oh, and they recommend us to their friends and colleagues, too!
Understand your client’s business
In the B2B world, delivering an amazing customer experience also means understanding your clients’ responsibilities and how your product/service impacts them. For example, that may mean knowing their industry regulations require all 300 pages of a website be reviewed every year, or that a customer portal pulls in content from databases A, 2, and F1. The more you understand your client’s business, the more value you can provide; the more value you provide, the better the customer experience.
Delivering an amazing customer experience isn’t easy. It requires a commitment to quality hiring practices, efficiency, support, understanding and, often, a human voice. Going those extra miles, however, can earn you the reputation that comes with Company A status.
Interested in going deeper on the subject of customer experience? Check out McKinsey & Company’s website and the excellent Inc. article, “Why the Best Companies Always Have the Best Customer Service.”
If you’d like to learn more about Vodori and how we strive to deliver an amazing client experience, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.