Published to coincide with Small Business Week, it’s contributed by Micah Solomon, and goes into helpful detail about how and why.
Here we briefly summarise.
This seems like an excellent starting place. Don’t be taken by surprise, he suggests: ‘things will go wrong’, so train your team to expect it. That way, they’ll be ready to spring into effective action, rather than be on the defensive.
‘Put a system in place’, says Micah Solomon, ‘that addresses these scenarios (what I call “customer service recovery”) and train your employees until they’re fluent in using it.’ (He also, helpfully, points to one of his own devising.)
The bonus? Of course – in improved ‘customer engagement and loyalty’. And the old truth stands. ‘When a customer encounters a problem and then experiences how splendidly you address and resolve it, they’re likely to develop a closer bond with your business than if everything had gone smoothly in the first place’. This is so.
‘Even the most enthusiastic and well-meaning employees can sometimes turn off customers simply by using the wrong language’, says Micah Solomon, and he advocates ‘language engineering’.
Look at ‘specific phrases that employees should avoid using’, he says, and at those that you prefer. Then refer to this ‘language lexicon’ as a guide ‘for customer service phone calls, chats, messaging, and email’. Fascinating.
He give some examples. So instead of ‘You owe’; ‘Our records show a balance of… ‘, for instance. There’s more – and it is interesting, the subtle differences in tone and impact.
Put extra emphasis on these, he says, because they are moments the human brain is more like to remember.
‘The human memory is far from egalitarian. It undemocratically selects “snapshots” to store based on whatever your brain considers to be important.’
And it will choose the first and last impressions over those in the middle. ‘Because of this quirk of memory, it’s important to get these two moments right.’
Check first impressions for yourself, he suggests – walk into your store, or call, log on to the website, including via your mobile: how does it all seem, at a first impression?
And again, draw attention to this focus on the close.
‘It’s human nature’, he suggests, to begin sliding your attention away as you near the end of an interaction – perhaps especially if all’s gone smoothly. Don’t. Stay, and take ‘an extra moment to ensure everything feels truly complete’, he says, or risk erasing ‘all the goodwill you created up to this point’.
Encourage your team to focus on this too, of course.
Expectations have changed dramatically in recent years, he points out. ‘When a customer leaves a message by email or telephone or text,’ says Micah Solomon, ‘they’re hoping to hear back from you right away.’
Don’t disappoint. ‘My professional opinion is that it’s essential to respond to all such communications from customers within the same half day (even sooner, if it’s nearly closing time, so you don’t leave anyone hanging until tomorrow).’
Get back in touch even if it’s just to tell them when you’ll be able to come back with a full answer. Don’t leave customers in the lurch.
Make all the information a customer may need easily, clearly and accurately available, and automate your systems so they’ll be kept notified about their order without having to chase.
‘Customers only want to be in touch with you when they choose to do so’, he says. And ‘Ultimately you should elevate this exercise of eliminating useless contact to the level of high art.’
Review all your processes to check they work seamlessly, is the basic argument. Think Amazon: how it has ironed out all the crimps. He also points to Adobe as exemplary in this regard…
Those are the tips – all of them, worth exploring. And there is more detail in the original piece. Read it here, over on Forbes.
Keeping customers is the name of the game. Make your customer service irresistible, and you’ll surely seriously improve your chances?