A key business strategy for all entrepreneurs is putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. How often do you think about what kind of experience you are providing your customers? Hopefully this is a regular part of your business assessment and accountability. However, it’s important to remember that “customers” are both internal and external. Within an organization, employees are also “customers” of one another – different departments/functions, etc. They can’t work in silos to be successful, and thinking of those working in other departments as customers is an excellent way to ensure high quality experiences.
Unfortunately, too many companies fail to keep customer experience at the forefront. I recently had an unpleasant and all too typical experience. Here is what happened: I cancelled a service which required returning equipment. The provider sent a box to return the equipment, which was addressed, postage paid, etc. The date the service stopped was at the end of the billing cycle, so there was a zero balance. I returned the equipment immediately, and I even paid to have the package tracked so that I would know when it arrived.
A couple of weeks after delivery of the returned equipment, I received an email saying that the equipment hadn’t been received, and if it wasn’t returned by a certain date, I would be charged an additional fee. As you might imagine, I was frustrated.
Then, surprisingly, a week or so later I received an email saying the equipment had been received. Talk about not communicating within an organization! Now for the best part… this was weeks ago, and I am still receiving invoices. Ugh! And it’s probably unsurprising to hear – dealing with their customer support has been extraordinarily frustrating.
You can guess the taste this experience has left in my mouth. Do you think I will be recommending this company’s services to others? Nope. How about suggesting people go look for employment there (they are hiring). Nope.
It doesn’t matter what your product or service offerings are, it should be your goal to provide an exceptional “experience” each and every time a customer interacts with you. Notice the word “experience” not “service”. They are different. On top of that, your employees are all customers of one another too, so they need to have superb experiences with one another as well.
As a leader, insisting on a culture of exceptional customer experiences – internally and externally – you’ll ensure that your customers and your employees will thrive. People will want to work for you and will go above and beyond without asking. Customers will learn about the experience you provide others and will likely pay a premium for the service provided. Exceptional customer service is a gold standard for which your company will be known.
Here are just a few ways to offer a superior customer experience:
- Be friendly and empathetic
- Be respectful of one another
- Listen intently
- Ask clarifying questions
- Make sure your team is well versed in your products, services, and the internal workings of the organization
- Be responsive
- Say thank you
- Make sure to ask for feedback
- If possible, let people know what you are doing or have done with the feedback received (that way they know that it hasn’t fallen on deaf ears)
Personally, I have zero tolerance for having a poor experience with a partner, vendor, or anyone else. There are entirely too many options in the marketplace to put up with a company/person that doesn’t value and respect its customers.
Need help defining your culture and what a fantastic customer experience may look like in your organization? That’s exactly the kind of thing a business advisory board can help with. Reach out today!
By Blair Koch