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Walk a step in your customer’s shoes. How do they feel? Too big, too tight or just right?

May 29, 2010

A little big, too tight or just right? Make sure you know how your customer's shoes fit.

Have you ever put on your customer’s shoes? How does it feel to be a customer of your organization? Good, bad or ugly… it’s a vital exercise in the journey of becoming a customer centric organization. As Jan Carlzon, former CEO of Scandinavian Airlines, said, ” Any time a customer comes into contact with any aspect of your business – however remote – they have an opportunity to form an impression.”

The first step is taking the time to map out the touch points customers have with your organization? Touchpoints are any time your organization directly interacts with a potential, existing or former customer.

At what points in your relationship with the customer do you create memorable experiences? Do you delight them at each touch point or disappoint them, creating a negative memory they associate with your organization.

I challenge you to undertake this exercise.

Granted, if this is one of your organization’s first exercises in customer centricity, it can be a lot to bite off as an initial step. I suggest walking before you run … choose one area of your business. Preferably a customer facing piece of the organization. The contact centre is a great place to start.

Start by identifying the direct interaction points your customer has with the contact centre. Among many things, these points are likely to include

  • the structure of your IVR
  • the experience while on hold waiting to have a call answered
  • the existence or lack of self-service tools
  • the interaction with an agent
  • how the reason for calling was resolved

These are all customer interaction points or opportunities to build evangelists, passives or detractors.

Once you’ve identified the interaction points, take off your business hat and replace it with your customer hat. Call into your contact centre, email or initiate a chat inquiry with a customer’s perspective and objectively evaluate what your customer experiences.

Is the experience creating evangelists, passives or detractors?

The answer can be a real eye opener!

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Dry cleaner strikes again… customers DO sweat the small stuff!

April 23, 2010

Is your receipt/invoice formatted for your or your customer's convenience or for yours?

Did you read my post about the “dry cleaning incident”? The one where they ‘forgot’ to tell me the buttons on my jacket were ruined, hoping I would walk out of the store none-the-wiser?

Being one to give a second chance, I went back last week to have more clothing cleaned. After dropping off my cleaning, while walking to the car I reviewed in invoice and I kid you not; I could not understand it. The invoice sliced and diced my order from all angles except the cleaning charge for each item. I just wanted to know what they were charging per piece.

I had to go back to the shop, and the staff had to look up the price in the computer to tell me how much one of the shirts cost to clean. Having to walk back from my car to have my invoice interpreted negated the very pleasant drop off experience I just had with the dry cleaner. Their invoice is hard to read, not clear and does not make it easy for me to do business with them. It may be a great invoice from the store’s perspective, but it was a very poor experience from my perspective. Furthermore, you’re reading about the same dry cleaner again… this second experience is entrenching my position as a detractor for their business.

So how does this apply to your business? Let me ask the question again, have you looked at your business’ customer interaction points? If yes, have you taken the next step of dissecting those points from your customer’s perspective? Creating a customer experience corridor, mapping the interaction points, or moments of truth a typical customer has with your product is the first step in understanding your customers’ experiences and the impressions you are leaving them. Depending on your customer’s experiences, these interaction points will cause them to do one of three things

  • Evangelize your product and service, recommending it to others and return to do business with you repeatedly
  • Feel neutrally about your service or product, and shop around based on price and convenience
  • Tell others about their poor experience, post it on their blog, tweet it to their followers and update their Facebook status.

Take the time to walk a minute in your customer’s shoes. You maybe surprised about what you find.

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What kind of free marketing team is your organization building?

April 15, 2010

What are your customers saying about you?

Customers experience your organization in two ways, emotionally and operationally. Depending upon the outcome and the impression their experience with you creates in their mind, they become 1 of 3 types of customer.

  • The Evangelist – this is what we want ALL of our customers to be. These customers are loyal, they come back, they spread the word on how great your product is or how exceptional their experience was the last time they contacted you. In fact, they become volunteers in your marketing department by promoting your brand. They help you grow your business through repeat purchasing, sharing more of their wallet and recruiting new customers.
  • The Passive – Passive customers just are…they’re there in the background. They might buy from you again, they might not. They probably won’t tell anyone how great you are, and they probably won’t tell anyone to not do business with you. These customers are not loyal, being easily lured away by the competition.
  • The Detractor – Detractors are not your fans, in fact they are a part of your booing section. With today’s communication avenues, it takes very little effort for detractors to be heard far and wide. These customers feel badly treated, unsatisfied with your level of service or your product and they are happy to actively share their impression with others. They cost your organization money by defecting, taking others with them and discouraging new customers from doing business with you. In fact, a recent study conducted by Covergys found that  33% of unhappy customers will post a negative review online. In the same study, 62% of those asked said they would stop using a service or product from  a company with negative reviews.

OUCH! Detractors are very powerful and directly impact your success.

Do your customers walk away as evangelists, passives or detractors? Are you actively creating evangelists with your service or inadvertently creating detractors? Do you know? The transactional outcomes your customers experience either create a loyal group of customers who help to grow your business, or an unhappy group of vocal customers. These detractors  harm your brand and shrink your customer base by sharing their stories of poor experiences.

By the way, if you want to know the name of my dry cleaner, please email me… I am more than happy to spread the word.

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My dry cleaner gets a failing customer experience grade

March 31, 2010

My dry cleaner earns an F for customer experience

Recently, I picked up a jacket from the dry cleaner I have been doing business with for the past 8 years. Planning on wearing the jacket to the client meeting I was driving to; I took it out of the plastic to put on. To my horror, I realized the 3 buttons on the front were ruined. As per the signs posted throughout the shop, the dry cleaner refused to take responsibility for the damage.

I can understand this reluctance as they can not control the quality of the garment’s detailing, this is a manufacturing issue. However, had I not unwrapped the jacket at the cleaners’ I would have paid and walked out thinking everything was okay.

My disappointment with the dry cleaner is that they failed to point out the damage, choosing to avoid a conflict rather than bringing my attention to the issue. I left feeling frustrated and having lost 8 years of cultivated trust in my drycleaner’s integrity and customer service. Guess which dry cleaner I no longer visit and guess how many people I have already told about this incident?

After using your product or interacting with your company, a customer walks away with an impression. Does your organization actively manage that experience and measure it?  In my interaction with the dry cleaner, their actions clearly avoided managing my experience, and by avoiding the issue, made no effort to measure my temperature on the issue.

Would your organization handle this situation differently? Is every customer interaction managed and measured? If yes, congratulations! You belong to an emerging group which recognizes that a customers’ interaction with your company and products directly impacts and influences their choice to come back or walk away and whether to recommend you to others.

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March 29, 2010

Welcome to my world, through a customer’s lens.

We are all customers.  A customer of my services, an employee or a customer of an organization. I specialize in assisting all 3 types of customers in having an exceptional experience.

Please look around, stay awhile, and share your thoughts on what you read.