Providing an excellent customer experience
My father was in the military and he was a stickler for making our bed first thing in the morning. And let me be very clear that this was not just throwing the comforter over the covers to make it look made up. The corners were military standard and the sheets were so tight you could flip a coin on them. Every morning like clockwork, my father would wake us up and before our feet hit the floor, he was already yelling, "make your bed." I didn't understand it when I was young and just thought he was being difficult. I later learned that he was in fact being difficult, but the lesson he was trying to teach us was two-fold; the way we start off the morning would dictate the remainder of our day, and the way we kept our room would be an indicator of every other area of our life. Making our bed was a metaphor for excellence. If we could keep our space in excellent shape, this would extend to our grades, discipline, and chores. I can remember him saying if you do 1 percent more today than you did yesterday, you will be ahead of your peers.
Serving our customers should look like making a bed. If we do 1 percent more today than we did yesterday, we are much more likely to serve our customers in excellence.
Fitted sheet: Build a strong customer-centric foundation
The fitted sheet is the foundation of making a bed as is customer service for your organization. Customer service should not be the responsibility of one department. Providing an excellent customer experience should be the responsibility of everyone in the organization.
- Take responsibility – My husband had the opportunity to participate in leadership training at the Disney institute a couple of years ago. They have this saying, "It's not my fault, but it is my problem." I have since adopted this in my organization and nonprofit. Everyone takes responsibility for providing an excellent customer experience. Maybe you didn't get the order wrong, but it's in your hands now, so it's your responsibility to get it right. Our customers don't care who's at fault; they want to know it can and will be rectified.
- Training – Another Disney nugget is that they sprinkle everyone with "fairy dust." This means that everyone goes through the same onboarding process when they join the company, no matter who you are or where you sit within the organization. We should indoctrinate people coming into our organizations to the culture, so the messaging is crystal clear. If we evangelize the customer experience throughout the organization, then no matter who our customers encounter, they can expect excellence.
Flat sheet: Listen to customer feedback and apply it
As long as you have foundational principles that govern your customer experience, this part is easy. Smooth it out and make sure the corners are tight. It's in this part of the process that you pay attention to the details.
- Understand the voice of the customer – If you want customer feedback, ask them. I have learned that customers love to give their opinion and you can bet they will be honest. Send out customer surveys to get a pulse on their pain points, the areas you are doing well and the opportunities for improvement.
- Execute feedback – It's not enough to gather data if we don't use it to improve our customer experience. Use the information from surveys or other feedback tools to create continuous improvement opportunities.
Comforter: Go above and beyond – it matters
The comforter represents our customer communication. My husband and I were traveling back from a funeral last year and had to change our flight. We mentioned to the customer service representative why we needed to change the flight, and they were tremendous in helping us book a new flight. Two weeks later, a package showed up on our front door from Delta addressed to my husband with their condolences. They didn't have to say anything, but their gift spoke for itself.
- Communicate with no strings attached. Having an email list is essential because it's a marketing tool to share our products, services, and content to acquire new customers and retain our current customers. Add a new strategy to communicate with no sales, no new content, product, or surveys. Cater this communication specific to them (birthdays, anniversaries, or just a thank you for being a great client/customer). If you know the client or customer personally, that is even better because you can send a note when a child goes off to college or a when a big promotion occurs. When our communications change from transactional to relational, we build long term customers.
Pillows: Think about how your customers feel
Some people are fine with having two pillows on their bed while others have tons of pillows. Put your touch on your customer experience. Ask yourself this question; why should your clients/customers choose us over someone else providing the same product or service?
- Give more sunny days. Come a little closer. I have a little secret to tell you. Most organizations are going to do what they have to do to ensure their customers are happy. We all want happy customers, but what is the 1 percent more you can do to make your customers feel seen, heard, and that they matter? I live within a 3-mile radius of Burger King, McDonald's, Five Guys, Burger One, Burger Fi, and not to mention the countless number of restaurants that sell burgers. The difference between choosing one over the other is determined by which one provides the best customer experience. What is important to me may not be as important to someone else, but the differentiator lies in making our customers feel seen, heard, and appreciated. Here are several ways to execute your sunny days.
- Signature greetings. We all know Chick-Fil-A's "it's my pleasure." How you greet your customers sets the tone for all further interactions.
- Uncomplicate your return and exchange policies.
- Integrate social responsibility and charity into your business model.
- Add a new feature to your product or service.
Serving our customers should not be left to one department within our organization. It's the responsibility of everyone throughout the company. Providing an excellent customer experience isn't something we have to do, it's something we get to do. The excellence we show in this area will reverberate in every area of our organization. Let's be intentional about serving our customers in excellence. Without our customers, our businesses or nonprofits become hobbies.
Voya is collaborating with Portia Scott through the Voya Just Right Advantage™ program to deliver value-add education to minority, women, veteran, disability and LGBTQ-owned small businesses and not-for-profits. These communities have felt a disproportionate impact from the pandemic, and Voya is providing extra support and help.
Portia is the host of the Wake Up & Show Up podcast, speaker and vision execution partner on a mission to inspire and empower individuals with the tools they need to make their goals clear and plan of action clearer.
Read more Voya Insights posts by Portia Scott