What makes you a “fan” of your favorite sports team, band, or restaurant or hotel brand? What does each do that moves you to pay to experience an encounter, or post positive comments online or on social media? What have they done that merits your fan loyalty? Do your customers embrace your organization with the same enthusiasm? Do they delight in your relationship and share their encounters on social media or with friends and family?
In a word, are your customers your “fans”?
Whether you run a Fortune 500 corporation, or a storefront on Main Street, as companies seek to differentiate themselves from their competition – and rise in relevance among their customers and prospects – each encounter must become much more. In fact, some companies take customer service so seriously and understand its effect on the bottom line, that they have dedicated resources to hire Chief Experience Officers (CXOs) just to manage and nurture customer relationships.
This article is the first in a series that explores how companies must rethink the every customer interaction. From recruiting, hiring, and training your team, to empowering them with the right technology, to encouraging leadership from every level, you must build customer service “champions” who own the customer experience.
Each of the following five concepts can help elevate recruits into champions and transform customers into fans. These will be explored in more depth over the coming installments of this series.
- Hire smart people who share your spirit. Hiring the right people is a “gut” feel about whether that candidate will feel the customer’s need and make the customer feel appreciated. Do they believe that each customer interaction must be more than a chance to right a perceived wrong or remedy a situation? Your team’s response to every customer call, email, text, or social media post must rise to the level of creating an exceptional and memorable customer experience.
- Train for transformation. You’ve hired for feeling. Now, train them to deliver a stellar experience. This goes beyond “pleasant” interactions. The best training methodology exceeds learning a process, approach, or speaking points. It leverages innovative practices that surpass industry standards and reduce time to proficiency and prepares team members to deliver positive experiences.
- Tap technology. Modern customer service technology does more than steer calls to the right department or spot complaints across social media. It uses artificial intelligence, robotics, or avatars that mimic personalities and helps humanize the customer experience. It’s disruptive, delivering business intelligence tools that help organizations learn – and then exceed every critical metric. Easy to deploy, simple to use, and proven to deliver, today’s tech is a refreshing change from traditional tools and delivers improved performance that helps boost employee satisfaction and retention – and turn customers into fans.
- Empower bottom-up and top-down leadership. At C3, for example, we flattened they layers and eliminated titles and departments from 33 to seven globally across the organization. This process not only reduced the distance between people on the contact center floor to the executive offices. It empowered every person at the company to become more of a decision maker. Valid concepts and ideas are encouraged and “grassroots” decisions now are embraced. Doors remain open to engage people at all levels. In the end, people are unconstrained by titles and free to explore concepts helpful to the company’s – and customers’ – experience.
- Commit to the process. Ask yourself, do you run an “experience company”? Are you dedicated to providing a stellar customer service experience that starts as you recruit, hire, train, and unleash your customer service representatives on the marketplace? To make employees and customers “fans” of your organization, you must own the leading edge of customer engagement, and pioneer new ways of thinking and delivering on the customer experience. Instill them in your people and they will seize the chance to thrill every customer they encounter.
Done well with a commitment to future evolution, these five steps can help your organization select, hire, train, and equip the best people – and turn customers into a loyal legion of fans.
Sudhir Agarwal is Chief Experience Leader at C3/CustomerContactChannels, a global customer relationship management (CRM) service provider based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and in Singapore. The company operates contact centers on behalf of its Fortune 500 client base in the United States, Latin America and Asia. For more, log onto www.c3connect.com.