GUEST POST from Shep Hyken
NICE isn’t just the right way to treat people. It’s the name of a software company that specializes in helping businesses improve their customer and agent experience. NICE has analyzed billions of customer interactions to better understand customer behavior. They know what customers like and dislike. They know what frustrates customer support agents and what gets them excited about helping their customers. But often, it’s not an agent experience that gets customers to come back.
A recent study from NICE found that 81% of consumers today start with a digital channel when they have a question, a need or want to buy something. They don’t call the company. They go to a website, YouTube, Google search, etc. They want and expect the companies and brands they do business with to have answers readily available. What they don’t want is to call a company, be placed on hold for what seems like an unreasonable period of time, talk to a rep who transfers them to another rep, etc., etc.
I recently interviewed Laura Bassett, Vice President of Product Marketing at NICE, and had a fascinating conversation about how customers’ expectations are changing. She said many experiences are unamazing. They simply disappoint, which doesn’t give a customer the incentive to come back for more. Bassett said NICE’s mission is to rid the world of unamazing customer experiences. Here are some of the nuggets of wisdom Bassett shared on how to do exactly that.
1. Customer experience is the entire journey.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that customer experience is customer support. It’s much more than that. While customer support is part of the experience, it really starts when a customer initiates a Google search, finds your company and interacts with your website. The service begins with how easy it is to do business with you regardless of where they are in the customer journey.
2. Customer experience involves every person in the business.
Just as customer experience includes the customer’s entire journey—not just when they reach out for customer support—it also involves every employee. If you aren’t dealing directly with a customer, you support someone who is or is part of the process that will impact the experience. Even people behind the scenes, who never interact with the customer, have impact on the experience. Everyone must understand their role and contribution to the customer experience.
3. Proactive communication is essential to the customer experience.
Companies know many of the questions that customers ask. So, why not be proactive about giving customers information before they have to make the effort to get answers? Bassett said, “Companies should understand and predict when they can answer a question before customers even realize they have it.”
4. Walk in your customer’s shoes.
This is an old expression, yet its meaning is timeless. You must understand what the customer is going through at every step of the journey. Then compare it to the experience you would want. When designing an experience that makes customers want to come back, think about what would make you come back. Is the experience your customers receive different than what you want?
5. Agents are consumers too.
Their expectations have accelerated. They compare what they should be able to deliver to what they experience with other businesses. When they have an amazing experience with another company, they want to repeat that experience for their own customers. They must be equipped with the tools to deliver what they consider to be an amazing experience.
6. Make your customer support agents knowledgeable.
This is a great follow-up to No. 5. Help them understand that they don’t have to follow a script when it is unnecessary. They don’t want to feel held back. They don’t want to feel over-managed or under-enabled. After you hire good people and train them well, you should empower them to do their job. Bassett said, “Turn agents into customer service executives who can really own that experience.”
7. Amazing customer service doesn’t need to have fireworks.
Seamless and simple wins every time. This is the perfect concept to close out this article. Nothing shared in this article is rocket science. It’s common sense. It’s what every customer wants. To be amazing, you don’t have to go over the top and WOW the customer with the most incredible service they have ever experienced. Delivering the simple and seamless actually creates the WOW factor so many businesses believe is unattainable. Just be easy. Eliminate friction. Easy and seamless isn’t that hard—and for customers, it’s the opposite of unamazing!
Image Credit: Shep Hyken
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