Customer experience should be positive, and for many customers, that means fun. Especially this time of year when families travel with their kids.
Each spring I train chamber members across the Midwest on how to deliver great service. For the past 10 years I have trained high school, college and a few older employees on how to deliver great service for the parks program at Aberdeen, SD. In a single word, the experience they create should be fun.
What makes that happen? From start, to finish, all along the yellow brick road, there are moments of experiences that make the visit fun. From the correct information on social media, to the first smiles in the visitor center, to the positive energy of staff giving their 30th train trip of the day, each contact with each visitor creates the experience that in turn creates the positive word of mouth that park programs depend on each year.
A big part of that is creating service fun for kids. Not just adults. It's a different approach, a "get down to their level" connection that produces life long customers whose memories include fun they want to share with their own kids someday.
Fun sells. Are you ready to make it happen?
Language is important. What we say to others, both customers and co-workers, affects our relationships with them. How we say it, our tone of voice and our body language, conveys a message as well.
The single biggest mistake we make in customer service is assuming we've communicated effectively with someone when in fact, we haven't.
The second biggest mistake we make is assuming our communication creates a positive customer experience, when in fact, it doesn't.
In personal, face-to-face communication, the goal is to create feelings of trust. You want customers to know that this is a good, safe, fun place to be, that you are professional, caring and know your stuff. How you communicate reinforces that image or destroys it quickly. How you communicate creates a positive experience or it doesn't. There isn't much in-between.
Communication that builds a positive customer experience is authentic, coming not just from a script or a template, but from the heart. It's filled with a faith in the goodness of people, faith in the quality of your organization, and faith that conveys to the customer: this is a good place to be. It reflects the positive energy of the person trying to connect. That's why I love the photo of the bird. We reflect what's inside of us when we communicate. Let's make that communication a positive experience for customers and co-workers.
There's a problem. There's a solution. How much time exists between finding the problem and finding the solution to the problem is critical to the Customer Experience.
One of the best ways to create a great experience for every customer throughout your organization is to create ownership of service at every point in your organization. Don't consider only the places where a customer connects directly, although those are critical. The departments that impact the order, affect the packaging, change the pricing, etc., all impact the customer significantly, and are worthy of your attention.
Ownership is the 5th Key in my program, Leading to Achieve Great Service. Each employee deserves to know that what they do impacts the customer--the reason the organization exists--and that when they do their part to the best of their ability, they are serving the customer. And at the simplest of levels, it means that every employee has the positive energy to believe there IS a solution to every challenge they face as they serve customers.
Ownership connects to purpose by reinforcing a key aspect of life: we all want to make a difference for others. When we get to do that, we sit taller, we stand taller, we feel more pride. The first solution for achieving a great customer experience every day, with every customer, is that every person in your organization knows you couldn't do it without them.
Wouldn't that be a nice message for your employees to hear?
What does love have to do with customer experience?
Because of the truth of this statement:
No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
I have been honored to serve as a customer experience consultant and service trainer for a wide variety of organizations. The ones that are the most effective really care about the customer. The customer isn't just the reason for the organization to exist. The customer is someone with needs that the organization can meet, and in that process, make a real difference for someone.
The difference really can be love.
The wonderful irony? Organizations that promote loving kindness type of service not only keep customers, they keep employees. Longer. Happier. With fewer complaints.
Isn't that love that's worth it?
Experience is a pretty basic word that most of us understand. We use it a lot in the travel industry. It's what happens to us when we go somewhere, visit a place, see something. It's the journey, not just the end, not just the beginning. It's the entire journey, from thinking about it, to returning home.
In the travel world, it's easy to understand. You want to take a trip. You get information from a site, look at your options, book your room, plan how to get there, what you'll do when you're there, and how you'll get home again. Every element of that is part of your trip. It's complete, not just a part here or there, it's whole. And to be whole, it must be quality.
The travel world understands that well because how visitors are treated determines very much whether they refer places, how much they purchase, and how soon they'll return. All of that impacts revenue in the travel world significantly.
The rest of the world is beginning to appreciate customer experience much the same way. One of my first clients after working at South Dakota Tourism was a manufacturing plant. We looked at problems from the customer perspective to find solid solutions. Mapping out the customer experience always shows where the bumps are, where the customer doesn't get what she wanted, where improvements can be made. It's a journey that is incredibly important to take, and beginning of the year is a great time to take it.
Dee Dee has helped create and coach "customer care" programs and cultures for healthcare, government, travel, financial services, plumbing, retail, publishing, automotive and entire communities.