8 Strategies To Get Great Customer Service (Starts With YOU!)

8 Strategies To Get Great Customer Service (Starts With YOU!)

Who owns customer service? Is it strictly the companies we buy from or do consumers have a responsibility in achieving a positive outcome too? This is the theme of my newest article featured in Psychology Today, co-written with psychiatrist and author, Dr. Grant Brenner. We discuss ways to use emotional intelligence to have great experiences.

Here’s a cringe-worthy story. You finally find that perfect product, a new laptop, home fitness equipment, or maybe a gift for your partner on a big anniversary. A few days later, the package arrives in the mail, and, like a kid getting a long-awaited present, you eagerly open the package. But oh no! It isn’t what you expected. So disappointing. Clearly you are unhappy—or, really, irate—so, what do you do?

 

Apply The Four Agreements

Don Miguel Ruiz’s best-seller, The Four Agreements, focuses on positive change drivers. Ruiz “advocates freedom from self-limited beliefs that cause suffering and limitations in a person’s life.”

While his recipe is simple, it takes intention and persistence to succeed:

  • Do not make assumptions
  • Do not take anything personally
  • Be impeccable with your words
  • Always do your best

We elaborate on these agreements to empower consumers to partner effectively with businesses to achieve the best possible resolutions.

8 Strategies To Get Great Customer Service:

1. Know what you want.

Define what you want and the questions you have in advance while staying open to possibilities. Be impeccable with your words, crafting your message based on the key principles to move the conversation toward a good resolution, within the limits of what is reasonable and possible. Ruiz explains that “impeccable with your word means you don’t use your words to speak ill of yourself or others.” Approaching with clear goals and a curious, rather than accusatory stance, will set the right tone. Pay attention to HOW you speak to customer service associates as well as WHAT you say.

2. Take responsibility for your own actions.

As Ruiz suggests, you are entitled to expect a great experience from companies you buy from but do not have a right to be mean to innocent people. Customer service reps may be having a worse day than you are. If there’s a contract, make sure you’ve read it. You have to know what you agreed to, and also what you are entitled to get.

3. Be patient, especially during a pandemic.

Mistakes happen because we’re HUMAN! Let’s say you ask for no mayo on your sandwich. The waiter brings your dish without accommodating what you wanted. You can make a scene, or you can stop and think. If you help diffuse stress, rather than amp it up, the waiter will likely apologize, make it right, and maybe throw in a complimentary dessert or appetizer. But… don’t be afraid to politely but firmly seek attention from a manager if it isn’t going anywhere.

4. Bring out their best through basic human decency.

If you anger service representatives, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Put yourself in their shoes and consider how you would want to be spoken to and then act accordingly. Be kind, not irate. Avoid displacing your pain points onto the other person, even if their company is at fault. If you liked the way they handled it, give them a compliment. You’ll feel better about the interaction, regardless of the outcome.

5. Make a human connection.

Relationships are powerful. Each time you get on the phone or chat with a customer service rep, deliberately establish a connection and be sincere. Realize that the money is important to the company, and reps are closely monitored for performance. For businesses, “talk time is expensive”—but this does not mean your needs are unimportant. On a more basic level, you are two human beings looking to solve a mutual problem.

6. Customer ratings may become the trend.

It’s integrated in the way Uber runs its business and will likely spread. It makes sense. Why would companies spend their time with people who are unkind and disrespectful? Don’t wait for customer ratings to scale across the world. Make sure your personal brand is what you want to project.

7. Provide customer feedback. 

Companies typically learn what customers want based on asking them through surveys, focus groups, social media comments, and more. Take advantage of the time to provide recommendations as most brands are listening and care to improve experiences based on customer and prospect feedback. Provide positive input as well as your complaints. Give the company a chance to respond before going after them on social media. Judge fairly and realistically before tarnishing a reputation, and be open to revising ratings when there’s a resolution.

8. Use aggression wisely.

If you are feeling irate, it’s probably for a good reason. But how do you use anger when you can’t pivot, rather than letting anger use you? It’s critical at such moments to maintain self-control. Take a few deep breaths, pause, and review what your goals are. Use voice control—it’s OK to let them know you are not happy, and that it is painful for you. This will engage empathy. Anger often comes from threat, injury, and helplessness. Know where it is coming from before you displace pain onto others.

 

The Customer is Always Right?

Like it or not, the old adage “the customer is always right” is not always true. Caveat emptor— “buyer beware” still holds, though. If you signed a two-year contract in which you agreed to pay off an expensive product, it’s unlikely that you can argue your money back. But you can still try and problem-solve with the company to find a middle ground.

Developing our own personal “code of conduct” as consumers, based on the above principles, minimizes the negative impact of customer service negotiations while maximizing the chances of a best-possible outcome.

Customer experience is a top priority for many companies because a great customer journey is the difference between a great company and a long-term relationship, versus an OK company and shopping around. According to neuromarketing, people buy based on how brands make them feel and other psychological factors beyond services and product prices—including identity and lifestyle implications of brand-use.

So, who owns customer happiness? Customers or companies? The answer is both! The onus of customer satisfaction does not strictly fall upon businesses. We as consumers also need to take responsibility for the experiences we have every day… including how we interact with others whose job it is to provide service excellence.

Read more about how to apply The Four Agreements to win in business and life.

 

Please note: ExperiMentations Blog Post (“Our Blog Post”) is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. We will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on information obtained through Our Blog Post. Please seek the advice of professionals, as appropriate, regarding the evaluation of any specific information, opinion, advice, or other content. We are not responsible and will not be held liable for third party comments on Our Blog Post. Any user comment on Our Blog Post that in our sole discretion restricts or inhibits any other user from using or enjoying Our Blog Post is prohibited and may be reported to Sussex Publisher/Psychology Today. Grant H. Brenner and Stacy Sherman, All rights reserved. 

20 Ways To Celebrate CX Day & Keep Momentum Going

20 Ways To Celebrate CX Day & Keep Momentum Going

What makes customers and employees loyal to brands? Why do some companies thrive during challenging times while others go out of business? There are many answers to this question, but one that is common across all industries relates to company culture. How brands make people feel directly impacts short and long-term success.

Creating a customer-centric culture does not happen automatically or overnight. It requires an engaged workforce and an executive champion at the top who reinforces the importance of customer experiences. They must motivate employees and hold them accountable to put customers first.

Stacy Sherman Advice About DoingCXRight and Customer Experience Best Practices

Celebrate CX Day To Enhance Your Company Culture

CX Day, spearheaded by the CXPA organization is a real day. I didn’t make it up. CX Day, typically celebrated in October each year, is a terrific way to drive awareness about the importance of customer experience and thank employees for their dedication to delighting customers. It is also an excellent time to publicize to customers about the actions you are taking to deliver best-in-class experiences all year long.

20 Actionable Tips To Celebrate CX Day & Keep The Momentum Going:

  1. Measure customer satisfaction and related metrics like Net Promoter (NPS) and celebrate positive scores. Send cake and balloons to top-performing sales offices and those with Y/Y improvements.
  2. Recognize employees when customers mention their names in surveys, social media, and other sources of feedback.
  3. Distribute a CEO video email message thanking employees for creating passionate promoters.
  4. Send customer thank you notes and token gifts of appreciation.
  5. Conduct fireside chats (informal yet structured discussion between a moderator and a guest.) It’s an excellent way to engage customers, and CX experts and provide relevant content that keeps people interested in your brand.
  6. Enable people to recognize each other. Gamify experiences. Tie prizes to customer value.
  7. Buy lunch for people resolving customer issues daily, i.e., call center reps.
  8. Offer a bonus or day off to those who routinely demonstrate customer excellence.
  9. Offer CX swag, like banners, balloons, stickers, buttons, shirts.
  10. Provide training – empathy, customer listening, closing the loop, design-thinking, journey mapping, and more. Certification is also valuable. (Learn more about my University experience & get a discount >here too)
  11. Post photos of activities on the intranet & social media channels for the world to see.
  12. Host “thank you” events for your customers. Showing appreciation goes a long way.
  13. Create a room in your office to share CX projects and progress, so everyone stays informed. For remote teams, leverage platforms for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
  14. Highlight CX examples at meetings and have employees talk about best practices. Employees want to hear from their peers more than Headquarters staff.
  15. Lead a contest that involves both customers and employees.
  16. Encourage employees to join webinars. Create your own or give them a list of online events as there are many offered, especially in October on CX Day.
  17. Hang posters throughout company locations and employee offices. The more people see reminders about delighting customers, the higher likelihood they are to take action.
  18. Plan activities with different departments in your organization—leverage CX Day as a way to strengthen internal relationships and break traditional silos.
  19. Use the day for branding opportunities. Partner with your marketing / PR team to design assets highlighting admiration for customers.
  20. Use hashtag #CXDay on social media to help everyone find and amplify your involvement. Post before, during, and after CX Day.
Stacy Sherman Leads CX Day at Schindler Elevator Corporation

The Power Of Intention

I brought the idea of celebrating CX Day to my workplace, Schindler Elevator Corp, in 2019. It turned out to be bigger than I ever imagined, which we’re be doing even more in 2020 and beyond. My point of sharing is that YOU can create anything you put your mind to. If you want a customer-centric culture, you can make it happen with the right team. It takes a village yet when you have the right support, magic happens!

Check out the below video produced by my co-workers that captures how we celebrated and engaged employees across the organization across five continents. Turn on your volume to hear the song as it says so much!

Final Words about CX Day & Leadership  

  • Small acts of kindness go a long way. “People may forget what you said or did, but never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
  • Employees are your heroes. If they don’t feel important, your customers will feel it.
  • Don’t wait for formal end of year reviews. If you do not appreciate employees throughout the year, your competitors will. They’re searching for exceptional talent.
  • Don’t overthink it. Thank employees everywhere, i.e., meetings, cafeteria, parking lot.
  • Be sincere. “96% of employees believe showing empathy is an important way of improving employee retention.” (Forbes)

Remember: Happy Employees = Happy Customers.

Consider the facts:

“Engaged teams generate 21% more profit than their disengaged counterparts.  (Gallop))

“Employers who increase their workers’ engagement by just 10% can boost profits by $2,400 per employee every year.” (Recruit Loop)

When people are satisfied with their job, have good communication with their superiors, and their colleagues, and set clear goals, they are motivated to achieve great results. And they often do. According to Gallup’s engagement statistics, teams that work in companies that nurture a high-engagement culture reward those companies with higher productivity, better customer engagement, better employee retention, and a 21% increase in profitability.” (Gallop)

If you only take away one point, it would be this:

Everyone owns the customer experience, not just an individual or department. CX starts with YOU!

Digging Deep Into Customer & Employee Experience Management

Digging Deep Into Customer & Employee Experience Management

Customer Experience education is finding its way to universities, and I love it. I had the opportunity to be a guest on a podcast show hosted by Tom Dewitt, Director of CX at Michigan State University as well as Bob Kiple, a Marketing professional. They are a dynamic duo and I encourage you to listen to all their CX episodes. There’s so much to learn from teachers and practitioners who are doing the job.

 

During the interview, we dive deep into various customer experience topics including:

 

  • What I do in CX, why my passion, and how others can replicate best practices to differentiate their brand.
  • Advice to students who want to enter the CX field
  • The types of CX jobs in corporations and where to start whether graduating from college or first entering the field as a profession.
  • How to engage employees to care and deliver customer excellence every day.
  • And so much more.

Listen To Podcast Below. Tell Me What You Think.

Stacy Sherman Joins Tom DeWitt,Ph.D.of CXM@MSU and Bob Kiple Podcast To Talk About CX Leadership, Customer Experience Best Practices and driving employee engagement.
21 Powerful Ways To Build Brand Loyalty

21 Powerful Ways To Build Brand Loyalty

ShoppingGives asked 21 Customer Experience experts about proven ways to create brand loyalty, especially during an increasingly competitive eCommerce space. It’s a great article, which includes quotes from my CX friends like Shep Hyken, Adam Toporek and others (including me). You can read the original article here.

Experts agree that it can be challenging to engage your customers with your brand. It is even harder to build consistent loyalty throughout your customer base. However, cultivating loyalty is well worth the extra effort and expense.

Brand loyalty can increase your company’s overall revenue, make better use of marketer investments, and insulate your company against changes in the economy.

 

What is Brand Loyalty?

You probably know that it is good for a customer to be loyal to your brand, but every brand loyalist is good for a company in more ways than you may realize. One good way to understand brand loyalty is to ask consumers what they think it is:

  • Repeat purchasing. About 68% of consumers think that choosing to buy from a brand over and over again is indicative of loyalty.
  • Love of the brand. This is a pretty vague description of loyalty but accounts for 39.5% of consumers. Brand love may be expressed by being outspoken about positive feelings toward the brand, sharing the brand on social media, and encouraging friends and family to buy from the brand.
  • Preference despite price. 37.7% of consumers think that loyalty is expressed when you buy from a brand even though a product or service may cost more than very similar competitors or have experienced a price increase. Loyalty marketers find that their consumers keep purchasing through price changes. 

 

Why Build Brand Loyalty?

Customer Retention

Retaining your customers is highly profitable. 82% of companies believe that retention is much cheaper than acquiring new customers. The numbers seem to prove them right: An increase in keeping customers of only 5% may boost your profits by as much as 25% or even 95%. 

More customers coming back more often means you earn more from each customer over time. It also means that your business will be more consistent even in downturns of the market. 

Increase Earnings and Reduce Spending

Customers don’t just spend more often when they feel loyal to a brand; they also spend more money. In fact, as many as 43% of customers spend more money at a brand that they are loyal to. 

Getting a new customer through the door and buying something costs 5 times more than keeping a current customer. Investments into current customers is more logical than pursuing new customers. The customers that you keep will make it well worth your while to invest in loyalty. 

Gain a Competitive Edge

Brand loyalty has a lot of advantages, but most business owners don’t think that customer retention is a priority. If you invest in brand loyalty now, you can take a significant chunk of the customer base. You’ll also be able to keep them, even as ebbs and flows negatively affect your competitors.

 

How to Build Brand Loyalty

Knowing that brand loyalty is important doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll do a great job of building it. A successful brand loyalty program can be a great investment. However, you need to know that your techniques will be successful. 

Here are some powerful tips to build brand loyalty from professionals in the industry. 

Communication is Key

One of the most frequently overlooked and yet most effective ways to build brand loyalty is to have great communication with your customers. Whether you have something to tell your customer about their order, exchange, or whatever else they’re asking about or not, communication is better than silence. A great relationship can quickly be destroyed by perceived indifference from your company.

Stacy Sherman, Founder at DoingCXRight.com:

“Customer satisfaction and loyalty do not happen automatically or overnight. It requires intentional focus and engaged employees who COMMUNICATE to customers on a timely basis. Even if there’s no information available to tell customers who are waiting for status updates, let them know you haven’t forgotten about them. Email, text, or best of all, pick up the phone and call as they’ll appreciate the follow-up. Silence is never an option!”

Make it Easy

Sometimes, gaining your customers’ loyalty isn’t about making a deep emotional connection or offering something nobody else has. It’s just about making it easier for your customer.

Brands that engage easily on social media, offer convenient delivery options, and offer other conveniences make it simple for their customers to work with them. They are more likely to get repeat customers that have no reason to go anywhere else.

Shep Hyken, customer service/experience expert and author of The Convenience Revolution:

“Be the easiest (as in most convenient) company to do business with. Be accessible when and where the customer needs you. Use technology to create a better experience when applicable. In other words, reduce or eliminate friction. The brand that is the most convenient and easiest to do business with has an amazing competitive advantage that can disrupt competition and create fierce loyalty.” 

Focus on the Customer Journey

Every experience that a given customer has with your brand affects their customer experience and resulting loyalty. Customer satisfaction shouldn’t be an afterthought at the end of a purchase. It should be a carefully thought-out aspect of every interaction a customer has with your company. Consider each customer’s experience on social media, at brick and mortar locations, and online. 

Adam Toporek, Customer Service Keynote Speaker, at Customers That Stick:

Evaluate your customer journey to identify and anticipate the customer’s emotions at key touchpoints. Design the experience to prevent negative emotions and to help facilitate the positive, emotionally resonant experiences that generate loyalty.”

If you want your company to have loyal customers who spend more, buy more often, and keep coming back more consistently, you should put effort into building a strong brand loyalty campaign. Consider hiring brand ambassadors to help you build a strong strategy. Loyal customers are well worth an investment.

The Relationship Between Customer & Employee Experience (Podcast)

The Relationship Between Customer & Employee Experience (Podcast)

Have you heard about “Be Customer Led” hosted by Bill Staikos?  The show explores the symbiotic relationship between customer and employee experience, and how companies are creating leaders and cultures maniacal about the customer. Stacy had the honor of being a guest on the show.


What You’ll Hear On “Be Customer Led”

During the episode, Stacy and Bill talk about a ton of different and important topics, including what ignited Stacy’s career in the CX field, and how two “wow” moments transformed her professional career from Marketing into CX; the key attributes that can differentiate CX leaders, CX measurement, where the CX function should sit in the org, and more to elevate your customer experience skills.

They also talk about their shared love of Shep Hyken. The audio cut out for a min at 48:18, but Stacy shared a personal story about her interaction with Shep.

Listen to the Customer Experience podcast below. 

Please let us know what you think and what resonates most.

Listen To Stacy Sherman Talk About Customer Experience on Be Customer Led Podcast