A few months ago, I took a very early flight with BA out of Geneva International Airport and as on many previous occasions, BA staff demonstrated their excellent customer centricity, which prompted this post.
On that particular morning, it was Lionel who was working in the Club lounge who impressed me, for allowing me to enter and have a quick coffee, even though he had already called the flight and everyone else was on their way out.
The rule in such circumstances is not to admit any passengers once the flight has been called. It was refreshing to be treated as an individual and not as one of the mass of passengers taking the flight that morning. By allowing me to have a quick coffee before dashing to the gate certainly made my morning and my speed in gulping down the much-needed brew, as I had promised, enabled him to empty the lounge as he was required to do without too much delay.
What has this got to do with your own customer centricity you might ask? Well quite a lot in my opinion. As more people move from rural to urban areas, we are all challenged with living in a crowded environment, with little chance of being treated as an individual. This has created an increased value perception of space and service; people desire and actively search for recognition and a little extra personalised service. In the case of Lionel, he apparently saw me as a low risk and that he could trust me to have the quick coffee I so desperately needed at that time of the morning. I felt so special, he made my day and all because of a cup of coffee!
How do you train your own Customer Service Advisors?
Are all your company’s interactions with your customers scripted? Do your metrics of call centre efficiency include time per call, which is targeted down, or calls per advisor, constantly targeted up? If so, then there is little likelihood that you are making your customers feel very special or valued.
A few months ago I shared some information about a CEO who had decided to throw away the scripts that his call centre personnel were using and to trust his advisors to satisfy the callers in the best way possible – for the client! I am sure you can see how satisfaction went way up, for both the advisors and the customers.
If throwing away your call centre scripts is too far for you to go, at least for now, but you know that you could do with improving your care centre operations to make them even more customer centric, I have a few ideas for you:
#1. INVITE: How are you currently inviting your customers to connect with you? Are you putting a (free) telephone number, email or web address on your pack or in your advertising? Is the invitation clearly legible and does it offer your customers a choice of channels that they can use to connect with you? You should encourage as many connections as possible with your customers, so openly invite them wherever they will have a chance of noticing.
Some of you will certainly see this as a risk; more contacts will equal more complaints, no? Well yes – but hopefully at the same proportion as currently – and wouldn’t you rather know if your product or service has any perceived issues so that you can resolve them as quickly as possible? You will also get more chances to be praised on your offering, which means you will get information on what is particularly appreciated by your customers.
#2. LISTEN: Advisors should listen attentively to what the customer has to share: it always amazes me how often they try to interrupt the customer as quickly as possible in their explanation of the reason for their call. Perhaps this has to do with the call / time targets you have set, which I mentioned earlier. Why not replace these metrics by satisfaction targets? Let the customer talk until the reason for calling is fully explained and she feels that the advisor has really listened. Only then should your personnel start to respond with suggestions of possible solutions and actions.
#3. RESPOND: If your care centre is working with scripted responses and you feel too scared to throw them away immediately, at least give your advisors the freedom to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes to satisfy and even surprise the caller. Your customers have taken the time and effort to reach out to you, so don’t disappoint them. Delight them with your response. Don’t just offer them a replacement product or coupons; everyone else does that. What more can you do for your customer, so that they feel special and valued? If they do, then they will certainly be prompted to share their positive experience with friends, family and even the world at large if they are active on social media. One satisfied customer can do a lot for your image, several and your reputation grows significantly.
#4. KEEP LISTENING: Don’t assume that the first thing your customer talks or writes about is the real reason for the call or connection. Sometimes there are other things that would be useful for you to know but you never get the chance to hear them because your advisors are ending the contact too quickly.
Perhaps your customer believes you wouldn’t be interested so never calls you about ideas that they have had or suggestions they would like to make. Why not ask if there is anything else your customer wants to share or talk to you about. More information is better information and more understanding.
#5. ASK: Only when your customer is fully satisfied with your responses and has no other things they want to share, can you broach the subject of whether or not they would be willing to answer a few questions for you. If they do agree, then keep it short; if they refuse, respect their decision.
And, please don’t go through your full segmentation questionnaire if they do accept t answer a few questions; keep it short, a maximum of about five questions that will help you know her better. You can always complete a further five when she contacts you again – which they will do if they have been treated with interest, respect and openness.
These are my five steps to customer care excellence. Do you have any others you would add? I am sure everyone would be interested in hearing your additions and so would I.
Why not contact us today to discuss how we can help you optimise your own customer care centers? No obligation, just opportunity!
Find out more about connecting with your own customers on our website: http://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage
This post has been adapted from one which first appeared on C3Centricity Dimensions on December 22nd 2011
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5 Steps to Customer Care Excellence by Denyse Drummond-Dunn