Give customers reasons to be thankful.
Last night I had a truly horrible customer experience. I walked into a major “Big Box Retailer” ready to buy some new carpeting for my house. I went into the Flooring department and asked for assistance, commenting that the project was quite urgent. Foolishly, I’d already had the old carpeting removed by a pest elimination company, so was living in a space that was less than pleasant (ok, more like a barren desert scene from Star Wars). I needed that carpet as quickly as possible, especially entering the holiday season with the potential for guests galore!
I was told to go to the carpeting section and wait for the expert to arrive. This I did. And did some more. After about ten minutes, I got the attention of another staff member and asked if they could find someone to help me. She said yes and never returned. I went up to the Customer Service desk at the front of the store and asked for a manager. There apparently was not one on duty. Back to the carpeting section I went. After about 30 minutes of this frustrating scene, I simply left the store.
Even itching to spend hundreds of dollars in goods and services, I was unable to make a purchase. That astounds me. I may as well held up a fistful of cash and screamed, “Please take my money!” But even that probably wouldn’t have worked.
Where did I go when I left?
You guessed it — to that company’s biggest competitor. This is exactly what leading CX research shows. If you deliver poor customer service, you not only lose that customer; you often lose them to the next closest competitor. Even worse, the effects of this are lasting. New research says that 39% of customers continue to avoid vendors for two or more years after bad experiences.
What if I decide to take my frustrations out in the social realm? According to a recent report, “Over 4 in 5 customers are influenced by online customer service reviews when making buying decisions.” So, this company won’t just lose me; they’ll lose other customers influenced by my scathing review.
The good news is that I nearly hugged the person who helped me at the competing store. I was truly thankful just to get some guidance, clear information, and in-person service. So, as we enter Thanksgiving week and the holiday season, let’s give our customers reasons to be thankful. Here are three solid ways to do it:
- Take a good look at your customer’s journey. You’ve heard it a thousand times but an outside-in examination of what your customers go through can be very eye-opening. Schedule periodic, cross-functional meetings to analyze key points in the journey and work together to smooth them out. Be sure to survey customers after important interactions to gauge their experiences.
- Take complaints AND compliments seriously. When it comes to customer feedback, both sides of the coin have value. It’s tempting to focus only on what’s broken, but the positive comments should also be included in your assessments. Set goals to quickly resolve areas of the business that customers complain about, while beefing up the stuff they rave about.
- Take away barriers to content and service. A recent study shows that 55% of consumers say easy access to information and support can make them fall in love with a brand. Simply by creating clear pathways to useful content and communications, you allow things like a great website, online chat, educational materials, and other 24/7 tools to work for you. Also, build chains of command that ensure proper service is delivered and never, ever be the company with customers literally walking out the door because it’s just too difficult and time-consuming to make a purchase.