Customer experience in its simplest term is everything you do as a business that develops or affects your customer’s perception of your company. This starts from the time someone first sees your company – whether that be online, in person, on the phone or any of the other countless ways your business is marketed, it develops during every interaction with that client and will remain in their minds for the rest of their life. When someone says the name of a company, your immediate response is directly correlated to what your experience has been with them.
Once upon a time, a customer experience was simple because of a lack of options and time. For example: once a month, people would go to town to pick up supplies. If the store had the needed supplies, the customer was happy enough and went back to their home. If they didn’t have the supplies, the customer was out of luck. There was one general store – one choice of where to shop and if you fell out with John, the blacksmith, your horse would go shoeless!
As the world grew and the digital age arrived, choice became a right instead of an impossibility and, with that choice, came the necessity of companies to provide not only basic customer support but exceptional customer experiences. Did you know that recent studies show 52% of people say they will leave a company after two bad experiences? That’s two phone calls with a cranky team member or one nasty call and one bad viewing experience. Not much opportunity to get it right, is it? Customers will no longer accept a ‘basic’ experience, they want and can have more.
But what does ‘more’ mean? Providing an exceptional customer experience, just like life, doesn’t come with a handbook and isn’t black and white; it can leave a business owner feeling lost. There isn’t one answer to this as every customer is different but there is a foundation you can always return to when you are at a loss as to what to do. In this four-part series, we will discuss the foundations of customer experience: Courtesy, Concern, Setting Expectations and Education. These foundations can easily be implemented and will increase your customer’s happiness – leading to more completions and returning clients.
Part 1: Courtesy
When you think of someone being courteous, what comes to mind? A nice old lady saying, ‘thank you,’ when you hold open the door for her? Your kids saying, ‘please,’ when they want something? What about in your business? Is courtesy smiling and introducing yourself when you go on a market appraisal? Is it about what your team says when they answer the phone? If these are the answers, why don’t you have 100% of your clients giving you a 5-star rating? You are, after all, being nice to each of your clients, right? While courtesy at its basic form is the niceties I mentioned above, it also means building a relationship with your customer and that relationship is the foundation for all your interactions with them.
Here are 3 simple steps to start building a relationship with your customer.
1. Find out and use their name. It seems simple but as human behavior expert, Dale Carnegie once stated, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” There is a psychological/chemical response to hearing your own name and it is a good one!
For this reason, at Iceberg Digital, we start each experience with a name. For example, we answer the phones introducing the company, ourselves and then asking for the person’s name. Once we have the name, we take it down and use it later in the call. We also work hard to know nicknames and use those when appropriate. Make your clients feel known by using their names.
2. Observational data: Your team has the opportunity for gathering what is called observational data while meeting with or calling your customers. See they have pictures with kids? Compliment them on the cute kiddos and ask their names? Or ages? Talk about your own kids as well. Know they’re going on holiday? Find out to where and when they return, ask them how that place was. Make it personal not nosy.
The trick is to bring this information back up later in the same interaction or in a later conversation so making a quick note is necessary if your memory isn’t the best. Building relationships based on what you see and hear will help your customers feel appreciated and closer to you – help them to know, like and trust your team and business with personal touches.
3. Conversational data: Customers now expect your company to know details about themselves personally as well as where they are in the process. They are frustrated when they have to repeat themselves and expect that every interaction you’ve had with them should be available at your fingertips.
Whether it is before you go to a market appraisal or when you are about to call to confirm a viewing, take a look at your files, review your notes and interactions and have that information fresh in your mind. Notes for every interaction should be kept and readily available for any team member so you can provide a consistent experience.
4. Laugh: It’s no secret people like to laugh. Making a joke or causing people to laugh will strengthen your relationship.
As you start to get used to using these 4 bits in every interaction, it will get easier and easier to do and customer interactions will go from being mundane process driven to positive experiences your clients will remember.