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30 Smartest Customer Service Moves


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Outmanoeuvre your competition with 30 of the smartest customer service moves out there. Ideas, examples and links to get your customer service operation performing its socks off.

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30 Smartest Customer Service Moves

  1. 1. Introduction • Great salesmanship and great marketing can make sales. But only great service can make customers. • With the boom in social media, customer service is now the single biggest arbiter of reputation. • So we’ve put together 30 of the smartest customer service moves around to help keep you innovating.
  2. 2. 1 – Brilliant Basics, Magic Touches • This terminology started at airline Virgin Atlantic and is part of their customer service training mantra. • Making sure that the basics are done phenomenally well, along with sprinkling some magic touches into the experience is a great way to this about your customer service. • Virgin Atlantic’s dedication to customer experience goes right to the top, with their COO explaining how the entire VA team are trained to acutely observe customer behavior and act on it • For example, when a Clubhouse barman saw an elderly lady struggling to eat a meal on her lap because the chair sides were too high, they were all replaced • Even Virgin’s advertising plays humorously on its legendary service ethos.
  3. 3. 2: The Bolt from the Blue • Many of the best customer services businesses know that it’s a smart move to call key customers occasionally with no particular agenda other than to see how things are going. • If every call your customer gets is just about day-to-day transactional business, or to sell them more, they aren’t going to feel valued. • So put in a Bolt from the Blue programme and schedule your team to call a customer out of the blue, and set targets for each person to have done, say, 5 a week. Gather and share the feedback. • Tom Peters is a huge advocate of this approach, as he mentions in his book The Little Big Things
  4. 4. 3: Shop Floor Thursday • Get your management on the phone, email and live chat. • If you’re a service business, get them out on client site, on a given day of the week. • This is the primary source of precious customer feedback. It’s one thing seeing a report on customer gripes; it’s quite another listening to them first hand. • Choose a day of the week where managers from every discipline serve customers directly, by either walking the shop floor, manning the service lines or answering customer emails. • Try answering some customer tweets personally on a regular basis for example.
  5. 5. 4: The Journey Map • Map the customer’s journey as they enquire, buy and are serviced by your company… then go where the competition aren’t. There’s a ton of free resources online to help you – Google “make a journey map” • It’s a fun exercise to do with your team, and it can be done really quickly • Once you’ve mapped the customer’s journey, look at each touchpoint and say “can we make it easier here?” “what can we do at this point whilst they are waiting to involve them”… • It doesn’t have to be complex to engender conversation and create a ton of ideas.
  6. 6. 5: The Mystery Shop • What experience does your customer have when she emails you? Calls you? Visits your office? • It’s incredibly easy to find out, and is one of the 1st things I do when helping improve customer service. • Processes exist, but are they followed? See for yourself what happens. • This doesn’t have to be a major outsourced exercise to be beneficial. You can get 80% of the results in 20% of the time yourself. • Create a gmail address and email your support team now. Or call in and ask a sales question. Jot down ways things can be improved and share them with the team.
  7. 7. 6: The Feedback Demand • Get feedback as often as you can. • People absolutely hate complaining, so they never do it. • Know that a terrifying 96% of people won't complain (to you). But they will to all their friends. • What can you do to extract that feedback? Everyone buying from you has a view on how you're doing. Ask them regularly
  8. 8. 7: Customer Curiosity • Make the customer part of your business. “We consider our customers a part of our organization” said LL Bean in the early days of the company. • It’s amazing how many organizations have an “us and them” mentality about customers. • Realize that customers are your business. The more they tell you about their needs, wants and experiences, the more you can outpace your competition by meeting and exceeding those wants and needs.
  9. 9. 8: The 3 Ways Rules • Instead of having hundreds of procedures, try some unbreakable rules. • Create "the 3 ways we do things around here" - a set of principles that people can follow to help guide their decision-making. • It allows people to be themselves and be creative within the company's context. My first employer's golden rule book extended to simply 2: "we will be the best company in the world to work for, and the best company in the world to work with." This company made software, so the rules had no bearing on what was done, but rather how it should be done.
  10. 10. 9: The Show & Tell • Drive home what your customers’ custom really means to you. • Make them feel valued and special. • It’s not difficult to get service word of mouth by giving people personalized welcome books, giving them a mug with their name on, putting some notes into the system if they mention something to you about a recent trip so you can ask them how it went next time around
  11. 11. 10: The Staff Payroll • Pay as much as you can afford to get the best service staff. • You can plan all you like, but they will execute the plan you create. • Thank them personally for their contribution. One MD I know writes personal thank you notes to each member of the team in with their payslip, telling them what she specifically appreciated about
  12. 12. 11: Know Satisfied Won’t Cut It • 65-85% of the customers who defect say they were satisfied with their former supplier. So satisfied customers are leaving you. Why? • Because they are just that – satisfied. They are not yet delighted. And delighted is what is takes to keep someone with you when others are offering lower prices. • That’s exactly why the Customer Thermometer rating system has a “gold star” as the top rating. It takes a lot for a customer to rate you as gold. So if you are getting “satisfied” 6 out of 10, or “good” on your customer feedback, get right back in touch with these customers immediately and ask “what would we have needed to do to get a 10/10 or a gold star 85%
  13. 13. 12: Tales of the Unexpected • Act on the feelings of your staff, not just bald process. • Airline Jet Blue has a delightfully-named People Officer, Dave, who is deployed to areas where new processes are being put it, or there may be some new things happening. • He acts on his initiative, helping the crew members by providing customers with free drinks and snacks, and by running trivia competitions to give away free airline tickets. • Central to his role is also helping to explain to customers what might be happening with any new systems, so that there’s no possible irritation with holdups or hiccups going unexplained.
  14. 14. 13: The Apology Plan • Stuff goes wrong. It just does, it’s inevitable. • Have an apology plan anyone can execute immediately. • The best customer service businesses anticipate things will go wrong, and they have a contingency apology plan in place that all customer service representatives have the discretion to swing into action. • Open an account with the local florist so it’s a 2 minute job to order some flowers for a customer you got it wrong for. One of our large residential cleaning customers sends the cleaning team back to a home for free if a red or yellow feedback is given, no questions asked.
  15. 15. 14: Personality Matters • You work hard to employ great people. • It stands to reason you shouldn’t therefore ask them to hang up their personality when they walk through the door. • Encourage humanity. • Encourage everyone to indulge a bit more in their character. This is what my personal hero, Tom Peters, calls “Service with Soul”. • London Underground relies on the individual characters of the people working each tube station to do it. Here’s a funny one; my personal favorite, there are loads more.
  16. 16. 15: The Critical Non-Essentials • Dentist Paddi Lund created the idea Critical Non Essentials • CNEs are the things you wrap around your service when the service itself is a straightforward offer – they are the little things that make the difference • If you’re not a dentist, it’s hard to know what quality of care you’ve had. But Paddi’s customers have the perception that the quality of dentistry is high, extremely high. • Why? Because their names and their photographs are actually on the door of their personal lounges, because they’re greeted by name by their own Care Nurse when they arrive • What else could you do to add a level of service around your straightforward
  17. 17. 16: Train the Trainer • Bring the people who consistently get the best customer feedback in your business directly into your training plan. • Have them explain what they do and why it works to the whole team. • At software company Moonfruit, the best customer service agents train new starters • Another of our customers Jack Brunsdon & Son, makes and fits windows, conservatories and doors. He has the fitters who get the best feedback explain how they do it to the entire fitting team
  18. 18. 17: The Thank You Note • We get a ton of email these days, which means that you can go where your competitors aren’t and turn back to the mail. • Why not add the handwritten ‘thank you’ note to your customer service moves? • If a customer refers you on, buys from you (especially if they repeat buy), pen them a quick thank you note and pop it in the mail to them • It goes a long way, and often gets shown to friends and family, and even shared on social media
  19. 19. 18: Take Away the Strain • McCurly’s is a car rental business on the beautiful vacation island of Grand Cayman • It’s so popular they don’t even have a website, it’s all done through word of mouth. • They have rethought the vacation car rental service from top to bottom, and make money out of making it easier for their customers. • They take the car you rented from them directly to the house or hotel you’re staying at. Then they pick you up from the airport and drive you there, so you don’t have to drive tired from your flight. Best of all, they’ll stop at the grocery store whilst you stock up on those first day essentials. • What could you do that would take the strain off your customers?
  20. 20. 19: Pimp My Ride • We all love to be loved. • Personalization hit the top of the marketing buzz-word list a few years ago, but it’s never really been fully applied in the customer service arena. • If you can add a customers’ name to service documentation or deliverables, or suggest some things they might like to do that suits their profile, then go for it. • My local car dealership offers to take women to the mall and men to the golf club while their cars are being worked on. A small gesture but very much appreciated when you’ve got 3
  21. 21. 20: Top 5 Post-It List • Over the course of a month, have everyone who deals with customers write a Post-It note on any niggles or comments made where things might be improved, and stick up. • At the end of the month, group them by number into the top 5 and make a plan to quickly solve them. • Then contact all the customers who bothered to make constructive comments, and say thank you and explain what was changed as a result of their
  22. 22. 21: Time for Timeliness • This most simple of moves can completely stump your competition. Getting back to people faster builds gets them to buy from you, and builds bridges. • If you’ve got a website, get live chat – right now. We implemented this about 6 months ago and it has been a huge boost to our customer service and the speed we can jump on things. • Customers who go to your website want help or support right now – it’s the time they’ve allocated in their day to deal with it. If they just send you an email, and you take a day to reply, your window of opportunity has gone. • Try it, you’ll be blown away.
  23. 23. 22: Random Acts of Kindness • John Bunyan wrote, “you have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” • Small surprises have a huge effect and provide great word of mouth. • Customer Thermometer’s Mark Copeman tweeted this from his trip to Dubai last year (the hotel noticed one of his toiletry items running low and replaced it along with a note saying they thought he might like another) and it had widespread coverage. • Introduce a random acts of kindness programme and give
  24. 24. 23: Bin What’s Bland • If your communications are bland, they won’t be remembered or talked about. • Seth Godin makes this point superbly in his book Purple Cow. As he says, “boring stuff quickly becomes invisible.” • One way to combat this is to pull out every piece of communication a customer gets from beginning to end of their relationship with you. Marketing materials, email templates, packaging – everything they see or touch. Lay it all out and get to work on improving it. • Don’t stop until it’s remarkable – in every sense of the word.
  25. 25. 24: Keep Your Promises • Call back when you say you will. Even if you don’t have the answer, call to say you’re still looking for it! • One of our customers installs water coolers. They have a response time of one hour to new installation requests. But sometimes the engineer they need to speak with in order to book it in is on a job. They don’t use this as an excuse not to call in the hour – they ring the customer, explain he’s working, and commit to a specific time they’ll call back with full details of the job. • They have a 90% gold star service rating.
  26. 26. 25: WOW your WOM • If you’ve done something groovy, don’t keep quiet about it. • It’s OK to publicize your customer service approach to really extend the reach of your word of mouth. • This is the packaging for Pret-a- Manager’s gingerbread man product. • Eaters would never have known about this lovely story, if it wasn’t on the back
  27. 27. 26: WIDA • When in doubt, apologize! It takes a lot for a customer to make a complaint. • They need to take time out of their day, find the right person or number to call and then explain the situation. • So if you get complaints or negative feedback, make sure you train your team to apologize first and ask questions later. • An apology diffuses a situation really quickly… studies even show that customers can become more loyal if they complain and you apologize and rectify it, than if they hadn’t had the issue in the first place.
  28. 28. 27: Commune with Community • Get involved in the life beyond business. • An engagement with the local community feels good for all concerned, does good deeds and brings real customer service rewards. • The fabulous organization that is Cleaning for a Reason offers free home cleaning from its member cleaning companies to people undergoing cancer treatment. • This means that when people are looking for a cleaning company, they know hiring a CFAR company means they are also helping
  29. 29. 28 The Ticking Clock: • Give time, don’t restrict it. Make sure each member of the customer service team has time. • Time to spend a bit longer on the call with customers who need it (and who want it!). Time to go to the other end of the store to bring back a dress in the right size for a customer to try on. • Curtailing customer servicing activities to the ticking of a clock means you are narrowing your chances of success. • In the supermarket Waitrose, if you ask where a certain product is, staff are trained to take you right to it, even if they are in the middle of something else.
  30. 30. 29: Tell It To The Top • Your people spend all day every day talking to your customers. Ask theam how to improve things. • Harriet Green at global travel agency Thomas Cook has a “Tell Harriet” email address open to all staff. She received hundreds of emails to it in her first few weeks at the company.
  31. 31. 30: Find Out What Your Customers Want AND Give It To Them • Your customers come to you with certain expectations in mind. Make sure you understand what those are and give it to them… and if possible throw in a little extra too. • All the information you need to grow a profitable, remarkable business is out there waiting for you. It’s in your customers’ heads. Get their feedback in any way you can, do something about it, and tell them what you did. Ask any customer who isn’t raving about you why they aren’t. • Do that, in conjunction with a handful of the 30 ideas above and you’ll be stunned by the results.
  32. 32. Inspired to improve your service? • Try Customer Thermometer right now, for free. • Send your first one click survey in less than 5 minutes • -account