Welcome back to Part Two of this post…
The customer experience meltdown I described last week is not at all uncommon. I see stuff like this all the time. And I bet you do too.
- Disgruntled Employee grumbling openly about hours, work conditions, or other co-workers. This tends to happen most frequently as you’re held hostage while standing in the checkout line.
- Old School Website (circa 1996). Ya know the one… clip art, flashing GIFs, confusing and cluttered design. Nuff said.
- Too Much Information (TMI) Employee chatting non-stop with co-workers about the “kick-ass” party that went down the night before, and how she’s got a “wicked” hangover that’s been kicking her ass all day long. Thanks for sharing, right?
- Automated Phone System Hell. C’mon, we’ve all been there. The endless loop of confusing menu options, pushing this button and that button… all just to speak to an automated voice recording or a customer support rep named “Bob” who speaks with a curiously strong Indian accent. (No offense to you “Bob,” I’m sure your a nice guy and all. By the way, if you need help with your telephone messaging system, give my guy Chester Hull from ProSound a call. You’ll be glad you did.)
- Inconsiderate Employee careening down the isle, pushing a stock cart with no intention on giving you the right of way.
Now, this list is by no means comprehensive. I’m sure you can think of plenty more items to add. (Feel free to do so by commenting below.) These are just the ones that bother me most.
So what can you do about it? How can you raise your customer experience factor, and maximize every penny you spend on advertising?
- First, make sure every person in your organization understands that the customer’s needs are to be placed on a pedestal. Heck. It’s the reason you’re in business, and it’s the reason your employees have a job. But don’t stop short. Spell out exactly what it means to put the customer needs on a pedestal, which includes how employees should behave when on the job and in the presence of customers.
- Train employees to be well-versed on the products and services you sell. And be sure your staff knows exactly how to handle special cases such as out-of-stock or backordered items, and special orders.
- Install back up systems during busy periods, and have plenty of staff available to help customers — no matter the point of contact with your business — whether it be in-store, on the phone, or via email. In other words, never allow a single customer to fall through the cracks.
- Get down in the trenches. Yes, this means you. It drives me bonkers whenever I hear a business owner talk about their customer’s wants and needs — yet they hardly ever spend time on the floor, or on the phone talking with the customer. Hey, if for some reason this doesn’t work for you, at least get the scoop from your front-line employees who are in direct, daily contact with your customer.
- Create a Customer Experience Factor Checklist to help you grade your ongoing performance and update your systems regularly. (You can even download a good one on Michele Miller’s website. Or, for all you iPhone and iPad users, download Mike Dandridge’s PEF Matrix app.) This would have helped Tempur-Pedic avoid giving customers outdated information on its website.
- Fire any employee who refuses to comply with your prime directive of placing the customer’s needs on a pedestal. Yes, I said fire. Your business lives or dies by the customer experience you provide. There’s just no space for an employee who falls short of delighting the hell out of your customers.
Got it? As you can see, it’s silly to blame advertising for all your company’s ills. So before you play the blame game, take a clear-eyed and objective look at the experience you’re delivering, and I promise you’ll convert more customers and multiply the impact of your advertising dollars.