The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Customer Service Experience Is Product Experience
In attending a business meeting for my company, I learned quite a few things about our business and what we focus on that makes us stand out above our competitors and achieve the success we have had with at least 90% of our clients. There are plenty of businesses out there that have a website and a phone number listing, but if there is no one to pick up that phone, or answer emails within a 24 hour period, the customer service experience suffers, and so do the feelings about the product.
When it comes to running a business, the biggest mistake that many companies make is believing that it is their product that is the most important thing. After all, it is the product that is wanted or needed and in demand by the customer. Unfortunately, as most companies are learning, no customer is truly loyal to your customer if the service is better elsewhere, even if the product is slightly more expensive.
Many companies are now getting on board to understand more about their customers’ wants and needs and training their staff to appease these demands of customers. In most cases, the demands are very minimal and cost the company absolutely nothing, except more friendliness, more support, and more convenience to their customers from their employees. The extra training of these skills from employees can earn the loyalty of a customer for years to come, or it can cause a customer to never shop, refer, or recommend the company to anyone ever, which also means that their negative views of the company will be expressed, either from word of mouth, or from blogs they may run.
When a company focuses on their product more than the customer service experience, they were only successful in creating a product. When they focus on the customer service experience just as much as the product, they were successful in creating a business. The product could be absolutely flawless and a top brand above all its competitors, but if the customer experience is lousy, than product loyalty makes no difference.
Customer Service Experience and the Delivery Gap: Perception vs. Reality
The perception and image a company has of itself and its service to customers is far different than what customers actually perceive it to be. A company must dive into the questions in order to understand what customers are looking for in any company they deal with beyond product expectations. These questions include:
- How well of a service does the company provide?
- How well are employees trained to provide good customer service?
- How well do employees do in delivering good customer service?
Good customer service entails not only service with a smile and supportive employees, but the turnaround times of the call, from the time they get on the call until the issue is resolved. Whether the employee needs to transfer the customer to another department or not, the job of the employee is to make the customer feel as if the problem is now their problem and the customer should know that the employee will see through to a resolution.
If a company prefers the email route, in which they do not support phone calls, emails must be answered within a business day. Automatic responses must be set in place to let the customer know that an email has been received, will be reviewed, and will be answered within a business day. Whether a template is set in place, emails should be answered as soon as possible, as phones are usually associated with urgency, while emails are not.
The customer service experience is about solving an issue and much more: it is about emotions and memories. A customer will often try to solve the problem themselves, but the last resort is a call to customer support. During this troubling time, emotions are running high and this is the most dire time for a company to prove its value and care beyond the products it delivers. The moment a customer calls is the moment where loyalty and trust is tested between both customer and company and vice versa.
A customer remains loyal to a company by calling customer support. Trust is built upon relying on a company to solve the issue for the customer. How important is the loyalty of the company to meet the demands of the customer? Just as important is the trust a customer has for a company. Trust was started when the company product was bought. Trust must be kept by the company who wishes to keep the customer happy. An unhappy – more specifically – a customer who does not trust a company leads to more problems than a company would like to believe.
Customer support must be exceptional. Employees should never want to hang up on a customer that is not feeling a positive vibe from the company. Unfortunately, while it is not possible to resolve every issue immediately nor keep every customer happy, letting a customer know that the company is looking into the issue or is doing what they can to take care of their customer may go a long way in making the customer trust the company. When the customer leaves with a positive feeling from the company, whether the issue was resolved immediately or not, the company has established brand loyalty to the customer.
The customer will leave remembering the service provided even more than the actual product. When stories are told, the product may be mentioned in conversation through verbal communication or social media communication, but the focus will be on the way the actual customer service was experienced. However, the product will most likely now be associated with the good customer service experience. If the customer is made to feel like they are number one, they will not only come back, but they will recommend family and friends to the product because they trust in the customer service experience the company provides. Customer service experience is reflected in the attitudes and feelings of the employees. Keep employees happy and customer happiness will follow.
Customer Service Experience and the Environment
The environment plays a huge role in how the customer feels. If people feel like they are at home, they will stay longer, and spend more money on the service experience. As an example, Dunkin’ Donuts vs. Starbucks – the way the tables are set up, Wi-Fi included, etc. Disney is very notorious for its customer service experience and environment. Disney is an expert at selling experience, emotions, and feelings. Disney spends millions of dollars investing in everything from the room temperature, to the smells, to the lighting, to the comfort of the seating, making everything feel like childhood all over again, attracting millions of children and adults each year, to give the “experience of Disney.”
Investing in the customer service experience is investing in your company. If the customer has an exceptional customer service experience, they will become loyal to your brand and product, regardless of how much you charge for it, or whether it has competition or not. If you want the best of your product, the customer service experience must be the best. Customer service experience is the reason customers come back and spend money.
Customer Service Experience and Expectations
The higher the amount you charge for your product, the higher the level of customer service experience that is expected. No customer wants to spend any time dealing with customer service or any issues with your product, but if they do, it is more important that a company focus on not blaming the customer, and accepting responsibility in assisting the customer to the best of their ability. It may even be best for a company to compromise with a customer, even if the customer may be wrong in the case, than to outright put blame on a customer. For example, Apple is extremely good at deflecting blame, and assisting customers to repair products at a discounted price, rather than turning the customer away completely and risk losing the customer forever.
The customer service experience entails everything from the customer, the product, and their interaction with the product, including any issues that may arise in handling the product. When the company invest in the customer service experience, they invest in the future of the product. The whole point of the customer service experience is to make the customer feel better about the product and their experience with the product. Beyond the product, the customer service experience is the most important aspect of a company that will ensure its survival. If most calls from customers lack any gratitude, compliments, or positive feedback, the company needs to work diligently on the customer service experience. With the customer service experience, the aim is to not only make the customer happy, but to get a “thank you” or a compliment.