As I sign off this week as a guest blogger on all things ‘customer,’ my head’s hanging a bit low. Customer frustration is just so high. So I want to leave you with some basics that I know about treating customers right.
When I was at Lands’ End, Fortune Magazine did an article on us called, “Getting Customers to Love You.” The big revelation about why we were loved was that we could be counted on. We established peace-of-mind with our guarantee. We trained our telephone reps to not only know the products backwards and forwards, but to care why customers were buying them. Our graveyard shift operators were some of the busiest in the business because of the calls they’d receive in the middle of the night from insomniacs who, sure, would buy a turtleneck, but were also on the line to hear the friendly voice on the other end. Customers loved us because we respected them and their time. And we made sure that we translated that respect to actions they could see and feel.
In the time that’s gone by since then, I’ve experienced a multitude of cultures; some close to that of Lands’ End, but most far removed from that respect that we were able to weave into our operation and business decisions.
10 Ways to Love (and respect) Your Customers
1.Eliminate the customer obstacle course. If you asked customers they’d say that the obstacle course for figuring out who to talk to and how and when to get service is over-complicated, conflicting and just plain out of whack
2.Stop customer hot potato. He who speaks to the customer first should “own” the customer. There’s nothing worse that sends a signal of disrespect faster than an impatient person on the other end of the line trying to pass a customer off to “someone who can better help you with your problem.” Yeah, right.
3.Give customers a choice. Do not bind your customer into the fake choice of letting them “opt out” of something. Let them know up front that they can decide to get emails, offers or whatever from you and give them the choice.
4.De-silo your website. Websites are often the cobbled together parts created separately by each company division. The terminology is different from area to area, as are the menu structures and logic for getting around the site. What’s accessible online is frequently inconsistent, as is the contact information provided.
5.Consolidate phone numbers. Even in this advanced age of telephony companies still have a labyrinth of numbers customers need to navigate to talk to someone. Get people together to skinny-down this list and then let customers know about it.
6.FIX (really) the top ten issues bugging customers. It’s likely you’ve been surveying your customers for years and know what’s broken. Do something about those issues! Then tell your customers!
7.Help the front line to LISTEN. Let your front line be human, give them the skills for listening and understanding and help the frontline deliver to the customer based on their needs.
8.Deliver what you promise. There is a growing case of corporate memory loss that annoys and aggravates customers every day as they have to strong-arm their way through the corporate maze just to get basic things accomplished. They’re exhausted from the wrestling match, they’re annoyed and they’re telling everyone they know. And, oh, by the way, when they get the chance they’re walking.
9.When you make a mistake – right the wrong. If you’ve got egg on your face, for whatever the reason, admit it. Then right the wrong. There’s nothing more grossly frustrating to customers than a company who does something wrong then is either clueless about what they did or won’t admit that they faltered.
10.Work to believe. Very little shreds of respect remain, if any, after you’ve put customers through the third degree many experience when they encounter a glitch in products and services and actually need to return a product, put in a claim or use the warranty service. As tempting as it is to debate customers to uphold a policy to the letter of the law, suspend the cynicism and work to believe your customers.
Have a Great Week-End Everybody. Keep That Charge Up for Customers!