Tag Archives: customer service

10 Ways to Rock the Customer Experience In 2023

10 Ways to Rock the Customer Experience In 2023

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

As of today, 2022 is behind us. It was quite a year. Some businesses are still recovering from the impact of the pandemic, and then came employment issues, supply-chain problems and a shaky economy. All that makes for a company’s leaders having to use every skill they ever learned in their careers.

Our CX research indicated that 2022 was worse for customer service than the prior year. So we don’t continue that trend in 2023, I’ve created a list of tactics to help you. And while these may seem basic, they are essential to your organization’s success. With that in mind, here are ten ways that you can rock the customer experience in 2023:

1. Manage First and Last Impressions

There may not be anything more basic than this. Start with a strong first impression—and not just the first time a customer interacts with you. It could be the 500th time. First impressions set the tone for whatever is to follow, be it the first interaction or the 500th. As for last impressions, be sure to end strong. Last impressions create lasting impressions.

2. Give Back

Customers gravitate toward companies and brands that give back. Forty-five percent of the customers we surveyed in our annual customer experience research said that a company that gives back to the community or stands for a social cause is important to them. That’s almost half of your customers.

3. Be Customer-Focused

My definition of customer-focused is more than just delivering a good customer service experience. In addition to paying attention to customer service and CX, every decision you make keeps the customer in mind. Even if you are considering a change that will negatively impact the customer, you think it through, understand the ramifications and strategize how to overcome or handle the decision’s impact.

4. Empower Your Employees

If you want to keep your best employees and want them to take care of your customers, you need to hire good people, train them to do their job and then let them do it. Customers become frustrated when they encounter employees who aren’t able to make smart decisions. By the way, employees become frustrated as well, and that’s not good for the culture.

5. Practice Proactive Customer Service

This how you create customer confidence. Reach out to them proactively if you know of a problem. For example, the cable company that reaches out to its customers to let them know about an outage before they turn on their TV or computer. Or the retailer that emails, texts or calls a customer to let them know their purchase is delayed. While nobody likes bad news, knowing in advance gives the customer a sense of control and knowledge that the company is working on the problem.

6. Make It Personal

Find ways to personalize the experience. Customers like to be recognized and remembered. Make your customers feel as if you know them.

7. Have an Abundance Mindset, Especially When It Comes to Time

Zig Ziglar used to say, “You will get all you want in life if you help other people get what they want.” In this case, help customers get the most out of their experience with you and your products. That may mean spending a little more time selling, supporting and relationship-building with your customers. One of the big “loyalty killers” in business is when employees rush a customer to get to the next customer. Customers know it, feel it and don’t like it. An extra minute or two can be the difference between a customer coming back—or not.

8. Be Convenient

Eliminate anything (or at least as much as you can) that causes friction. Don’t make customers wait, don’t make them go through extra steps or do anything that is in the least bit inconvenient. Seventy percent of the customers we surveyed said they would pay more for convenience, and 68% said a convenient experience alone will make them come back.

9. Practice the “Employee Golden Rule”

My Employee Golden Rule goes like this: Do unto employees as you want done unto your customers. In other words, treat the people you work with as well (if not better) than your customers. That sets the tone from the inside and is felt by the customer on the outside.

10. Be Helpful

Ace Hardware is known as “The Helpful Hardware Place.” That’s their secret sauce. It separates them from their direct competitors (Home Depot, Menards, Walmart, etc.). I was interviewing an Ace executive for one of my customer service books, and he said, “Our competition has friendly customer service. So do we, but we also provide helpful service.” Think about how to help your customers be more successful when they buy whatever it is you sell.

BONUS: Show Appreciation

Don’t ever forget to say, “Thank you.” It doesn’t matter if it’s in person, on the phone, a text or an old-fashioned, hand-written note. Customers must always know you appreciate them for their business.

Some of these ideas may seem basic—even common sense. Maybe they are, but they are also essential to delivering the experience that gets customers to say, “I’ll be back!”

This article was originally published on Forbes.com.

Image Credit: Unsplash

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Customer Experience versus Customer Service

Customer Experience versus Customer Service

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

As I talk to people about their experiences with the companies and brands they do business with, they often use the terms customer service and customer experience interchangeably. Are they confused? Do they not know the difference? Maybe, maybe not. And in the end, it doesn’t matter. They don’t care, and neither should you.

All you should worry about is giving them the experience they want, expect and deserve – regardless of what your customers call it.

Here are some of the different definitions the public gives to customer service:

  • Customer service is a group of people who help me when I have a problem or a complaint.
  • Customer service is the way people treat me.
  • Customer service is a friendly experience.
  • Customer service is easy and convenient.

And every once in a while, someone will use the words customer experience to describe the same. I’ve heard many other definitions of customer service and customer experience. The idea here is that customers have their definitions, and yours doesn’t matter. However, and this is important, regardless of how they define customer service or customer experience, the outcome needs to be the same: the customer always wants to be happy.

Now the word happy is my word. Customers will say they want to be happy, delighted, satisfied, pleased, and more. What drives all of that is an experience that might include friendly, knowledgeable employees, excellent customer support when there’s a problem, a simple, convenient experience, not having to wait, fast response times, employees who have empathy when it’s needed, and more. The list can get quite long, and it’s different for different types of businesses. Depending on your business, you may include something that other businesses might not.

In the end, does it really matter what customers call their experience? And does it really matter what we call it? The answer, as I’ve already mentioned, is no. What is important is that the company has every employee in alignment with what they want the customer to experience. It’s about the outcome. Whatever words we use internally, be it customer service, customer experience, or any other term that describes the outcome and process we want to create for the customer, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that we create the experience that meets our customers’ expectations, makes them happy, and gets them to say, “I’ll be back.”

Image Credit: Unsplash

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23 Ways in 2023 to Create Amazing Experiences

23 Ways in 2023 to Create Amazing Experiences

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Happy New Year! I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, which are often broken. Instead, I like setting and resetting my goals for the year, and in my world, those goals focus on delivering an amazing customer service experience. So, I’ve created a list of simple ways to deliver the experience that everyone wants. Here are twenty-three ways to help you and your teams provide an amazing customer experience in 2023.

  1. Manage the first impression. It sets the tone for what’s to follow.
  2. Manage last impressions. They create lasting impressions.
  3. Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. Customers want to work with people who “know their stuff.”
  4. Make the customer feel like a person. Customers are not a sale, an account number, a prospect, etc. They are people.
  5. Respond quickly to calls and emails. Fast response time creates confidence.
  6. Don’t make customers wait on hold. Making customers wait for unreasonable amounts of time is a sign of disrespect.
  7. Be nice and show empathy. Create a warm human-to-human experience.
  8. Be available. How easy are you to reach? And if you’re not available, go back and read No. 5 again.
  9. Treat employees the way you want customers to be treated. How employees are treated will be felt on the outside by customers.
  10. Eliminate friction. If there is anything in the process of doing business with you that’s hard on the customer, find a way to eliminate or mitigate it.
  11. Act like a leader. My friend Mark Sanborn says, “You don’t need a title to be a leader.” Be the person everyone admires and wants to emulate.
  12. Always be polite. Say please and thank you. It shows you respect and appreciate your customers.
  13. Be proactive. If you know there’s a problem, let the customer know before they call you. Any form of proactive communication is always appreciated.
  14. Have an abundance mindset. Be generous – and don’t keep score. Zig Ziglar used to say, “You will get all you want in life if you help other people get what they want.”
  15. Give customers the gift of your time. An extra few minutes with a customer goes a long way in building a relationship.
  16. Give back to your community or contribute to a cause. Besides being a nice thing to do, customers gravitate to companies that “give back.”
  17. Have a “helpful” mindset. What can you do to help your customers be more successful?
  18. Don’t make excuses when problems arise. Instead, think in terms of explanations. Excuses show weakness. Explanations are reasons that can be followed up with how you plan to fix the problem.
  19. Be flexible. Excellent customer service lies in flexibility. Rules should be guidelines.
  20. Avoid phrases customers hate, such as, “It’s not my department,” or, “That’s our company policy.” I refer to these as loyalty killers.
  21. Train and empower your employees. If you have good people and train them well, let them do their job. Customers love working with empowered employees.
  22. Be customer focused. That means that every decision you make keeps the customer in mind. That doesn’t mean every decision will make the customer happy, such as a price increase, but at least you’ve considered the impact or result of your decisions.
  23. Express appreciation. Say, “Thank you!” Depending on how your customers like to communicate, it could be in person, on the phone, in an email, a text or an old-fashioned hand-written note.

As you look at this list, you’ll see nothing complicated. The ideas may seem rather basic. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity. These are precisely the strategies and tactics that will make your customers say, “I’ll be back!”

Again, Happy New Year, and may 2023 be your best year yet – and each year better than the last!

Image Credit: Unsplash

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Ten CX and Customer Service Predictions for 2023 – Part Two

Ten CX and Customer Service for 2023 – Part Two

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Last week I shared the first five of ten business predictions and trends for 2023. Here the remaining five (plus a bonus). As you look at these predictions, think about how they might impact your company. For example, if self-service customer service options are more popular than ever (No. 7), is your company or brand offering them to your customers?

6. Customer Support on the Phone Is Not Dead

Even with all the self-service solutions becoming more popular, the phone will continue to reign as the most popular way for customers to connect with customer support. Our customer service research (sponsored by Amazon AWS) confirms this as 87% of Baby Boomers (who make up just over 21% of the population of the U.S.) prefer the phone to any other channel, keeping traditional phone support as the No. 1 way customers choose to get their questions answered and their complaints resolved.

7. Self-Service Is More Popular than Ever

Even though the phone continues to be the most popular channel for customers to have their questions and complaints addressed, self-service options are becoming more and more appealing. Just as Boomers drive the phone, the younger generations—Gen-Z and Millennials—are proving that an investment in self-service channels, such as a robust knowledgebase on a website, video tutorials, chatbots and more, is an up-and-coming trend.

8. More Companies and Brands Will Stand for Something Important

Here’s more vital research to consider. Forty-five percent of your customers value a company that supports a social cause that’s important to them, and only 20% feel that a cause is not important enough to sway their buying decision. It’s especially true for Gen-Z and Millennials. Causes can range from climate change to sustainability, local community and charity events, and good old-fashioned values. You’ll start seeing more companies and brands participating in causes that are important to them and their customers. Our customer experience research found that customers are drawn to companies that “give back.”

9. Customers Want to Do Business with Companies and Brands They Can Trust

The old expression says it all. Customers want to do business with people and companies they know, like and trust. The knowing and liking are easy. Trust is harder. It’s an emotional connection between the customer and the company. Customers must know something will absolutely happen, that their experience will always be great and that the company has their best interests in mind. Eighty-one percent of more than 1,000 consumers we surveyed said a great customer experience increases trust. Start with the experience. Work to create an experience that instills confidence and will positively impact your bottom line.

10. The Customer Support Department Becomes the Revenue Generation Department

There have been numerous discussions and debates over the years about the investment into a customer support system. For many years, the department and processes that handle customers’ questions and complaints were seen as a cost. As the importance of customer service continues to grow, leaders are recognizing the revenue generated from the front line that handles customers’ problems and issues. I’ve gone as far as suggesting to clients that they stop referring to this group as the customer support department, but instead call it the revenue generation department. If it is the job of sales and marketing to bring in customers, it is the job of the people who have direct contact with the customer, especially after the sale, to maintain and nurture them for future business. A problem handled well gives the customer confidence to want to come back. When they do, they spend more. Eventually, they may even become loyal. As companies realize this, they will start investing more into the department and process traditionally known as customer support.

BONUS: Robots Will Not Replace People

In our research, we asked more than 1,000 consumers if they thought in the next ten years, robots would start to replace humans in customer service roles. Sixty-four percent said yes. Here’s my prediction. Robots won’t replace humans—at least not 100%. We are already seeing chatbots, voice recognition software, AI-infused conversations (with the computer) and other digital technologies becoming more capable, and therefore more popular. However, they won’t replace customer support agents and frontline employees. What they will do is make their jobs easier. Currently, AI and digital support are really good for basic questions and simple problems. While they will improve, we’ll still need human-to-human interactions when necessary. Certain businesses will excel in the adoption of high-end robotic and AI-infused technologies, but we’re a long way away from computers and robots replacing people. A few years ago I came up with a quote that still holds true today, and I believe will hold true ten years from now: The greatest technology in the world hasn’t replaced the ultimate relationship building tool between a customer and a business: the human touch.

If I had to sum up my predictions for the future of customer service and CX, I might use another old saying: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Yes, you need to provide your customers with modern convenience and technology that they have come to expect and rely on, but the basics are basics for a reason. Customers will always want to be treated well, be treated like individuals, and feel a real human connection.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Image Credit: Shep Hyken

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Ten CX and Customer Service Predictions for 2023 – Part One

Ten CX and Customer Service for 2023 - Part One

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

We are in a strange time. For the past two and a half years, we have experienced one hurdle after another. It started with the pandemic, moved into supply-chain problems that merged with employment issues, and to top it all off, we’re experiencing a rough economy. While the difficulties hit some industries harder than others, every company or brand has had to show a level of nimbleness and flexibility to stay ahead, if not just stay in business. Some companies figured it out, and some are still finding their way. Regardless, the following predictions could give you some food for thought in how to navigate the next year and beyond.

1. Customers Will Be Smarter and More Demanding Than Ever

Each year, I start the list with a similar prediction. It seems that our customers are smarter than ever when it comes to customer service and experience. They are getting the type of experience they want from certain companies and brands, and then they expect it from just about anyone they do business with. All of our customers, regardless of our type of business (B2B, B2C, B2B2C) are consumers. Certain B2C rockstar brands are teaching our customers what good service is like, and it’s become the expectation (and hope) of every customer that they will get a similar experience from any type of business.

2. Companies Will Focus as Much – Maybe More – on Employees Than They Do on Customers

What has been termed The Great Resignation wasn’t so much about employees quitting work to retire. They were quitting to move to better jobs. Companies that haven’t been employee-focused have struggled to keep some of their best people. Just as you work to attract and keep your best customers, you want to do the same with your employees. The cost of turnover, hiring and training can be far greater than an increase in salary and benefits. And don’t forget the appreciation factor. Just as you appreciate your customers, you should appreciate your employees. And a powerful byproduct of this effort is the customer experience. What’s happening on the inside of a company is felt on the outside by the customer.

3. Customers’ Expectations of the ‘Basics’ Continue to Rise

The basics of a good customer experience are really simple. Customers want employees who are kind and helpful. They want to easily reach the right customer support person. They expect employees to be knowledgeable about the company’s products and services. They want faster customer support responses from email, messages or text. Yes, these are the basics and they seem so simple, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to execute consistently. Our customer service research (sponsored by Amazon) found that year over year, customers’ expectations of these basics increased. The research also found that 49% of customers had more bad customer service experiences in the past year compared to the year before. Going back to Prediction No. 1, it’s the rockstar companies and brands that are setting the right example and raising the bar—and thereby raising customers’ expectations. The message is clear. Focus on the basics. They are the foundation of your customer service and CX strategies.

4. Personalization Gets More Personal

Up until recently, personalization had been used just to segment customers into several personas. Today, customers are experiencing hyper-personalization, treating them as individuals versus part of a larger group in a company’s database. Perhaps a better term for personalization would be individualization. In our customer service research, 74% of customers we surveyed said a personalized experience is important. A personal or individualized experience will endear the customer to the company, creating a greater chance of repeat business and even customer loyalty.

5. Some Companies Will Make the Mistake of Cutting Expenses in the Wrong Place

As many companies experience the pressures of the economy (and supply chain delays and employee issues), they will begin to make changes. Customers are spending less, and costs are going up. That’s not a good formula but it’s what we are forced to work with, and the result is companies being more careful about how they spend money. As this applies to customer experience, companies will be looking for places to cut costs and save money. The big mistake is if they cut in the areas of customer service and experience, leaving them vulnerable to competition and taking away their market share. Unfortunately, if history repeats itself, and I predict it will, many companies and brands will make this mistake. Hopefully, your company isn’t one of them. One of the worst places to cut is anywhere the customer will notice.

Well, that’s the first five of my ten predictions for 2023. Come back for the remaining five predictions next week.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Avoiding An Unamazing Customer Experience

Avoiding An Unamazing Customer Experience

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!

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Image Credit: Shep Hyken

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Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of July 2022

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of July 2022Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. We also publish a weekly Top 5 as part of our FREE email newsletter. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are July’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. What Latest Research Reveals About Innovation Management Software — by Jesse Nieminen
  2. Top Five Reasons Customers Don’t Return — by Shep Hyken
  3. Five Myths That Kill Change and Transformation — by Greg Satell
  4. How the Customer in 9C Saved Continental Airlines from Bankruptcy — by Howard Tiersky
  5. Changing Your Innovator’s DNA — by Arlen Meyers, M.D.
  6. Why Stupid Questions Are Important to Innovation — by Greg Satell
  7. We Must Rethink the Future of Technology — by Greg Satell
  8. Creating Employee Connection Innovations in the HR, People & Culture Space — by Chris Rollins
  9. Sickcare AI Field Notes — by Arlen Meyers, M.D.
  10. Cultivate Innovation by Managing with Empathy — by Douglas Ferguson

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in June that continue to resonate with people:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last two years:

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Marriott’s Approach to Customer Service

Customer Service the Marriott Way

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

It was 1927, not quite a century ago, when J. Willard Marriott and his wife, Alice, opened an A&W root beer stand in Washington, D.C. Later that year, the Marriotts added some hot food items to their menu under the name Hot Shoppes. Over the next 30 years, the Marriotts honed their hospitality skills and expanded their restaurant business into food service for airlines. In 1957, they opened their first hotel in Arlington, Virginia. It was run by their son, Bill.

Over the next 25 years, under the leadership of Bill Marriott, the hotel chain expanded across the planet. Today it represents more than 30 brands, from economy-priced lodging to uber-premium brands such as The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Julius Robinson, Marriott’s chief sales and marketing officer in the U.S. and Canada, on Amazing Business Radio. Robinson started with the Marriott organization 30 years ago in the reservations center. He knows firsthand what it takes to create an amazing customer experience.

Here are six key lessons he shared in our interview:

  1. The Fundamentals of Customer Service Happen One Person at a Time: When Robinson worked at the reservations center for Marriott, he learned the power of individual customer interactions. It’s about taking care of people one interaction at a time. Every customer was a chance to start over and confirm—and even build on—the Marriott reputation.
  2. Understand Your Customers: Understanding starts with listening. A customer who is booking a family vacation has very different needs than someone booking a business trip. The secret is to listen and avoid miscommunication. A complaint from a misunderstanding is one of the worst kinds of complaints. It’s easy to replace a dirty towel in a bathroom. It’s much harder to rebuild confidence after a miscommunication.
  3. Mistakes Handled Well Can Create a Stronger Bond: When there is a problem or a complaint, the way it is handled can make the difference between a customer coming back or not. Just resolving the issue doesn’t mean the customer will come back—it’s the way you do it that can make a big difference. Robinson was excited to share, “If you handle the problem the right way, the customer surveys will often be higher than if the problem had never occurred.” Problems and complaints should be seen as opportunities to prove how good you are.
  4. Embrace the Digital Customer Experience: When Robinson started 30 years ago, there wasn’t an Internet. Today customers may call, but often they make reservations, check-in and check out on a computer. They can even get their keys through a mobile app. According to Robinson, “Technology is an opportunity for the customer to take control over their travel experience.” The modern customer is increasingly enjoying a digital, self-service experience. However, if there is a problem at any point in their journey (no pun intended), the customer must have easy access to someone who can help, be it an agent on the phone or an employee at the front desk.
  5. Employees Must Be Empowered to Take Care of the Customers: Employees must be properly trained to do what is necessary to take care of customers. Robinson shared how, from the very beginning, J.W. Marriott Sr. believed in treating employees the way you want customers to be treated. In other words, leadership and management were the role models, and their behavior showed employees the right way to treat customers. Treat the employees right, and they will treat the customers right, and then the customers will come back.
  6. The Modern Marriott Customer Experience: Every company must grow as customers’ expectations change. During the past two years, we’ve seen customers demanding more. That challenge must be met. Many Marriott customers now expect more than just a place to sleep. The result is Marriott’s shift from simply providing a nice room and restaurant to creating an expanded experience. For example, the hotel staff can help locate hard-to-get tickets to sporting events and concerts. Maybe guests want a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Marriott team is there to help. Marriott, just like any other company, must meet its customers’ current expectations and be able to anticipate what they will need next.

Throughout the interview, Robinson shared insights into the efforts Marriott is making to get its customers to feel comfortable and confident about returning to pre-pandemic travel habits. It’s not only creating a great customer experience and providing exemplary service, but also taking measures to address customers’ concerns about safety and health. Because without that, nothing much else matters.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Image Credit: Shep Hyken

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Top Five Reasons Customers Don’t Return

Top Five Reasons Customers Don't Return

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Whatever you sell, be it a product or service, your customers expect that it will do what it’s supposed to do. If you sell a car, the car should work. If you sell a service, the outcome should meet expectations. That’s table stakes.

So, let’s assume that whatever your customers are buying from you will meet their expectations. However, that’s not always why the customer buys from you in the first place, let alone comes back to buy more. It’s the customer experience that drives that.

In our 2022 Achieving Customer Amazement research, more than 1,000 American consumers were asked, “How likely would you be to switch companies or leave a brand after experiencing any of the following bad customer service experiences?” They were asked to rate several reasons using a scale that ranged from “not likely” to “very likely.” Here are the top five reasons customers would leave:

1. Rudeness or Apathy From a Company or Brand Employee

This was the No. 1 reason, coming in at 75%. What’s interesting is that in the late 1970s a study was commissioned by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, and the top reason for customers leaving (over 70%) was the same. It’s hard to believe that the numbers haven’t changed for 40 years, but this continues to be the No. 1 reason customers don’t come back.

2. Inconsistent Information

There is no excuse for inconsistent information. Obviously, this is very frustrating to customers, with 72% saying this would drive them to find someplace else to do business. Have you ever called a company’s customer support number with a question and didn’t like the answer? If you truly believed the answer was incorrect, you may have called back to ask someone else the same question, hoping for a different answer. And it’s amazing how many times you get a different answer.

3. Inability to Connect with Someone From Customer Support

Self-service or digital support is becoming more popular. Customers are learning that it’s often quicker and easier to visit a website, read the frequently asked questions or interact with an AI-fueled chatbot. However, there are times when you want to talk to a human. It should be an easy, seamless transition, but some companies hide behind a wall of digital support and make it difficult for a customer to connect to a live agent. Furthermore, some companies bury their customer support number on their website, making it difficult, if not impossible, to find. This third reason customers leave comes in at 71%, just four percentage points off the No. 1 reason.

4. A Bad Customer Service Experience

I would think this would be at the top of the list, but at 68%, it takes fourth place. A bad customer service experience is exactly that. It’s just bad. But survey participants considered dealing with a rude or apathetic employee worse than an overall bad experience. My interpretation is that you might get a second chance following an overall bad experience. However, if customers are treated with disrespect (rudeness and apathy), it’s more than likely you won’t see them again.

5. Inconsistent Experience

You can’t be great one day, not so great the next day, average another day, etc. Inconsistency erodes confidence. Fifty-nine percent of the customers we surveyed would walk if they didn’t know what to expect. Customers want a consistent and predictable experience. That gives them confidence that they know what to expect every time they do business with you.

Conclusion

As you look at this list, you might think, “I knew that.” Of course, you did. You’re a customer. You don’t want to deal with employees who are rude or apathetic. It bothers you to get inconsistent information, and it’s upsetting when you want to talk with someone from a company but can’t. You get frustrated when you have a bad customer service experience. And you get irritated with an inconsistent experience. Who wouldn’t?

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Image Credit: Shep Hyken

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FedEx Not Keeping Pace

FedEx Not Keeping PaceFedEx took the shipping world by storm about forty years ago, growing to become the defacto shipping leader, unseating UPS and DHL. But, then after thirty years of strong growth they began to lose their mojo. In 2003, in a reaction to UPS’ acquisition of Mail Boxes Etc., FedEx announced they were buying Kinko’s, a large United States based copy center chain. For me this showed that FedEx was beginning to lose its way, and it appears their connection to customer expectations and the current capabilities of technology is failing. For a company based on the promise of speed, FedEx is becoming increasingly slow.

Increasingly frustrated with the performance of FedEx, Amazon has increasingly turned to the United States Postal Service to deliver its packages, striking a special deals with USPS to even deliver packages on Sunday. And now, Amazon is beginning to buy trailers so they can potentially contract directly with truck drivers to help them move inventory from one distribution node to another.

And for me, my latest FedEx misadventure is a perfect example of why FedEx is now in trouble and at risk of falling from its perch. Here’s what’s happened so far.

  1. I ordered a new laptop from HP that was supposed to arrive in three (3) days on Saturday, July 9th
  2. On Saturday, July 9th I received no contact from FedEx or estimate for when my package might be delivered
  3. On Saturday, July 9th FedEx attempted to deliver the package when we weren’t home
  4. For some reason FedEx then determined they were going to wait THREE DAYS before attempting re-deliver the package
  5. On Tuesday, July 12th I received no contact from FedEx or estimate for when my package might be delivered
  6. On Tuesday, July 12th FedEx despite someone being home nearly all day, FedEx attempted to deliver the package when we weren’t home
  7. On Wednesday, July 13th I received no contact from FedEx or estimate for when my package might be delivered
  8. On Wednesday, July 13th FedEx despite someone being home nearly all day, FedEx attempted to deliver the package when we weren’t home
  9. On Thursday, July 14th I received a missed call and voicemail from FedEx
  10. On Thursday, July 14th I attempted to call the FedEx number given and nobody answered the phone, got voicemail and left message
  11. On Friday, July 15th the Web site indicated that package would be delivered again that day, but no delivery came
  12. On Friday, July 15th I called FedEx and got voicemail
  13. On Friday, July 15th I called FedEx again and got a person, hooray! But, the person said my only option was to drive a fair distance to come pick it up or have it delivered to a FedEx location near me.
  14. On Friday, July 15th I chose to have the package delivered to my local FedEx location (a Kinko’s about 5-10 miles away) under the impression it would be available Saturday, July 16th at this location for my pickup and that they would probably call me after it arrived
  15. On Saturday, July 16th I went to the Kinko’s around 7pm figuring that it must be there by that time (How long could it take to ship a package 15-20 miles from one FedEx location to another?)
  16. On Saturday, July 16th at the Kinko’s the employee was unable to find the package
  17. On Saturday, July 16th at the Kinko’s the employee was unable to get any information from their systems because they were down for maintenance
  18. On Saturday, July 16th at the Kinko’s the employee was able to call and using a voice response system get a Tuesday, July 19th delivery estimate to their location
  19. On Monday, July 18th I received a postcard from FedEx saying they had tried to deliver my package three times and to contact them (NOTE: this was a very confusing postcard, not obvious what to do)
  20. On Tuesday, July 19th I received a phone call from the FedEx Kinko’s store saying they had my package, and I picked it up a few hours later after they used my name (no technology) to search a pile of packages in the back

VERY BAD EXPERIENCE – I got my package TEN DAYS AFTER I was supposed to get it, and nearly two weeks after I ordered the laptop.

Inaccurate information on the web site, poor customer service, bad technology, slow resolution…

These are all signs that this logistics company has gone off track and has not kept pace with the capabilities of technology today.

There is no reason why FedEx shouldn’t have been able to:

  • Show me online exactly where my package is
  • When FedEx is estimating it to be delivered based on the packages loaded on the truck and the planned route
  • Offer me the opportunity to select an alternate delivery time or date or location if the likely delivery time doesn’t work for me

This would be customer service.

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