It is easy to think your service efforts are exceptional. Often the reality does not match your opinion. An often quoted piece of research from Bain and Co. tells us how executives tend to misread their performance. When surveying 362 firms, they found that 80 percent believed they delivered a superior experience to their customers. However when customers were asked about their view, they rated only 8 percent of companies as delivering a superior experience. Could you be this wrong?

Ask these questions to do your own reality check:

What is a recent example of someone on your team delivering a memorable customer experience? When talking to many organizations, it is common for them to brag about their exceptional service. When I ask for recent examples, it is difficult for them to give a specific one. It easy to make the claim but tough to back it up.

What is your customer experience? Map out how your customer interacts with you to get information or resolve a problem. Start where your customer begins their journey and share in the experience. A study done by Sitel reports that 57% of customers search for a solution online first. Many hurdles and barriers occur before ever speaking to a person. The more effort required by your customer to reach you and resolve issues will only increase their frustation. Their experience is real and personal. Make it your job to improve it.

What is an example of an empowered decision made by an employee to take care of a customer issue? This is another case of where it is difficult to come up with examples yet we believe our team is empowered. Empowerment must be on meeting agendas. Give them scenarios of what you expect, how you will handle poorly made decisions and reward team members who have displayed empowered behavior. Go beyond lip service.

What has been posted by a customer recently on social media that has created positive buzz? We may not be as good as we think if no one is raving about us via social media. Get the basics right, be responsive, follow up, master a lasting impression and your customers will talk. Discuss customer comments at the next team meeting so all can see the importance of their service delivery.

How do you show the customer you know them? Customers want to have a personalized experience. Identify what you do to show the customer you know their recent interactions with your company. Most companies do not acknowledge that history. Customers want their loyalty recognized and valued.

You must have answers to these 5 questions. If your answers don’t come easily, then you may only be talking a good game. It is time to make reality match the ideal.

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