anticipte customers needs, customer experience, customer service, customer service tips, help customers, improve customer service, Micah Solomon, Secrets of a Frustration-free Customer Service Experience
October 27, 2014
Are you driving your customers crazy with a clunky customer experience and antiquated approach to customer service? Here are three ways to combat this, ideas I suggest as a customer experience and customer service consultant to my clients when they sense growing frustration levels among their customers.
(Time is not on your side here: Clunky systems are becoming less and less acceptable in today’s marketplace; respect for and anticipation of what your customers want are the watchwords for a successful customer experience.)
1. Help Customers Find It For Themselves
Customers appreciate the ability to have genuine, meaningful contact with a company, especially if the company has empathetic, intelligent, empowered humans working for it. However, customers only want to be in touch with you when they need you, not when you force them to contact you because of bad process design and lazy systems implementation.
Customers don’t want to have to call you just to find out that their order has shipped; they want an automated confirmation. They don’t want to call you for your GPS address because your site only lists your PO Box. And they eventually will stop calling.
If you want word about you to spread, don’t let the word that spreads be how hard it was to find something in your FAQ’s—or to find your FAQs in the first place. You, in other words, need to be the expert here, providing expert information where the customer can easily find it, so they feel informed and at ease when they work with you.
Amazon.com obsesses over these kind of stupid inquiries from customers (note: the customer isn’t stupid for making the inquiry; a company is stupid if it’s forcing the customer to make the inquiry) and searches them out (the inquiries, not the customers) for destruction. Most elementally, they were the first well-known company to replace all the irritating calls you have to make to see if your order had actually been received with that instant automated confirmation that customers now all pavlovianly depend on.
2. Personalize and Curate Results for Your Customers
Apple’s personal assistron, Siri, may seem like a bit of a toy, and certainly has her limitations, but she’s good at finding the question within the question: I tell Siri “I have a headache,” and she comes back with “I have found 4 drugstores not too far from you.” (One time she responded “I found 8 emergency rooms not too far from you..” “Siri,” I retorted, with some dismay, “Isn’t that a bit alarmist? I don’t think it’s that bad a headache.”)
While Siri seems like a bit of a novelty act, she’s one of the most visible (make that “audible”) manifestations of an important phenomenon that is well on its way to transforming customer service: the trend toward, and desire on the part of customers for, information that is electronically curated for them in a personalized manner, and is delivered to them instantly.
Here are some examples, ranging from the mundane to the literally lifesaving, from which you may find inspiration.
Amazon.com (again with the Amazon, Micah!)’s magic mix of crowdsourcing and algorithmic magic that allows it to know the item you want to buy (even if it’s not the one you thought you wanted)
Route Happy — sorts air travel options for you based on a “Happiness Score,” which in their words reveals “shorter flights with better planes, seats, amenities, and flyer ratings”
PECO Energy in Pennsylvania: Automated messaging system lets customers know—based on phone they call in from – if problem has already been reported or if it needs customer to provide more details—and lets you know how long until it is resolved
National Weather Service’s pinpointed “stay inside” messaging vs. searching weather underground etc: this can (at least this is the intention) be pinpointed as closely as the nearest cell tower to ensure you don’t get extraneous messages or miss the one that will save your life.
3. Get to Customers First–Before They Know They Need You
A third master skill of creating a great customer experience and superior customer service is what I call “Get To Them First” customer service. For a quick discussion of the “Get To Them First” subject, please check out my recent Forbes.com article: “Become Irreplaceable Through ‘Get To Them First’ Customer Service”
Do you have any suggestions to add, based on your own experience(s)? We would LOVE to hear about them in the comment section below!
Let’s continue to shine, Everyone!
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About the Author
Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant, customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and the bestselling author most recently of High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service.