It’s everyone’s job. Not just marketing, not just sales, not just the call centre – everyone. A great customer experience starts with the culture of the company. And what is ‘culture’? Well, it’s the way we do things around here. What’s acceptable behaviour, and what’s not. And it’s important to customer experience because there is a direct correlation between the way people in a company treat each other, and the way they treat customers.
In fact, there’s a school of thought that says that customers aren’t the most important thing, your staff are. And I’m inclined to agree with this. When your business has a clear culture, and everyone loves coming to work, when your team knows what’s expected of them, when they know WHY you’re in business in the first place, then you have the foundation in place on which to build an excellent customer experience.
Often, when people talk about customer experience, they mention ‘touch points’.
This is a great way to get a handle on all the times that a customer interacts with your business. When you start to map this out, you will see that there are a myriad of opportunities to make a good impression, or not!
Starting with before the customer becomes a customer – what does your website REALLY say about your business? How are you portrayed on social media? (And not just the well thought out posts you write, but also all the other times that your brand is mentioned/discussed/complained about.) What comes up on the screen when someone googles you, your key employees or your company name? And what does this suggest to the person who is doing the googling?
Once you have potential customers on your mailing list or CRM, how do you treat them? With respect and courtesy? Or do you bombard them with untargeted wishy-washy crap?
Let’s also look at your sales team. Are they 100% clear about the customers that your company wants? Or is it the classic case of ‘can you fog a mirror? Yes? Then we’d LOVE to have you as a client!’. The problem with taking on every single opportunity that comes through the door, is that some of them might not really be a good fit for your business, which then puts un-needed pressure on all aspects of your business as you try to jam a square peg into a round hole. And of course, there’s the question of do you put up with bad behaviour from your customers? Do you let them treat your staff badly? There’s a few football teams who have a ‘no d*ckheads’ rule, and frankly, I think it’s a good rule for business too!
So now, someone is prepared to become a customer. Excellent! But how easy do you make it? If your business is online, how is your onboarding process? Want to see the best and worst in action? Check out useronboard.com. Samuel Hulick walks through the on-boarding process for a wide range of companies – some do a great job, some do a rubbish job – but either way, you’ll learn a LOT!
If your business is a consulting business like Mayflower, how do you make new clients feel welcome? Do you have a standard onboarding process? (Confession here, this is something that we’re working on, we definitely have room to improve.) Do all your clients get the same treatment? If you have multiple staff, how do you know that they are all onboarding clients in the same way?
And now, finally, we’re at the point at which everyone else in your company gets to play their part. And yes, I mean EVERYONE.
Whether you are CEO, or the newest intern, every single person in the organisation impacts on how customers are thought about, and how they are treated.
Do you think of your customers as your ‘book of business’? Bad sign. Do you think of customers as your second greatest asset (after your staff?) Good sign. Do you think of your customers as a necessary evil? Bad. Or do you think of your customers as individual people, for whom your company is a way to make their life more pleasant? Good.
Let’s talk about some of the less mentioned but often more important customer touch points. What happens when a customer rings your call centre with a question or when something goes wrong? Do they get off the phone thinking ‘wow, I must tell my friends about company X, their customer service is just fabulous’? Or is it more like ‘oh God, please let me never, ever, EVER have to ring them again.’ I’m willing to bet we’ve all experienced the latter more often than the former. And I can’t tell you how much goodwill and referrals you are missing out on if your business is in that category.
No amount of fancy websites and advertising can counteract a crappy customer service experience, whether it’s on the phone or by email or social media or whatever.
It still astounds me how much people don’t seem to understand this. And even when they say that they do understand, actions speak louder than words.
Take a look at what an average call centre person is paid versus a sales person. And look at the working environment, the opportunities for advancement, the celebration of achievements, their status in the company. It’s often not a pretty picture. And sometimes if you see what looks like a ‘great team culture’ it’s more a case of ‘surviving the siege as a team’. OK, rant over.
Another often ‘hidden’ area of customer experience is the connectivity between your business and others, particularly if you deal in financial assets or are a tech company. How easy do you make it for customers to use your products and services in a way that works best for them?
Back on the marketing side of things, once a customer is onboard, what do you do to demonstrate how much they mean to you as a client. An unsegmented quarterly newsletter, written by someone who doesn’t know your clients? I hope not! Or do you really think about what makes your clients tick? What’s important to them? And how can you best continue to serve their needs. Are you undertaking ‘retention activities’ like newsletters, events and client surveys because you think you should, or because you know that your customers value the interaction? And if you’re doing client surveys, do you know that you are going to do something with the results?
So as you can see, while customer experience generally starts and ends with marketing, there’s a whole extra piece in the middle. The piece where you actually have clients, paying clients. Don’t let customer experience become ‘someone else’s job’.
If you’ve read this and now you’re concerned about what’s going on in your business, feel free to get in touch. Let’s have a coffee and talk about how to get things back on track.
Until next time, happy marketing!
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