The smallest gestures by frontline employees can have a significant impact on customer loyalty and the decision to buy again and again.
I was reminded of this when purchasing clothing at a department store recently. Upon bringing my items to the register, the kind woman asked questions about my day and overall shopping experience. I was surprised by our first interaction as warm greetings don’t happen frequently enough.
Besides a pleasant dialogue when first meeting, my experience got even better. The lady scanned each item and noticed that none of the clothes were on sale. She asked me if I had any promotional offers but unfortunately, I did not. She proceeded to explain that customers who have their store credit card receive discounts, and offered me the option to sign up for immediate savings. I declined and was prepared to pay full price for the items.
At that moment, the woman reached into her drawer and took out a coupon to apply to my purchase. She saved me $25. Although it was not a significant amount of money, it was a highly satisfying moment.I did not expect her to provide me any discount especially since I declined the credit card offer.
I thanked the woman twice and told her how much I appreciated my purchase experience ALL BECAUSE OF HER. I continue to be a loyal customer and tell others to buy from the store because of one person who INTENTIONALLY went up and beyond for me.
Customer Loyalty Lessons:
Empower frontline employees. They impact customer experiences a lot! Support your staff to do what’s right for customers without having to ask management permission for every detail. Recognizing employees who create exceptional experiences is essential too. When employees are happy, customers see and feel it. Here’s a perfect example to demonstrate my point.
Do the basics right. The mere act of employees saying “hello” and good-bye” is an easy way to delight customers and leave a lasting impression. I especially love when company owners / CEOs greet customers. (Read my Woodloch story).
Make it EASY to buy. “More than half (52%) of online buyers said they stopped shopping on a brand website due to bad site experiences.” (Merkle study). I highly recommend conducting user testing with real customers in the pre and post-launch stages, and measuring “level of effort” as part of your CX practice. NPS is useful but even more so when combined with other metrics.
Focus on creating great experiences from onboarding to transaction completion. “66% of consumers care more about the experience than price when making a brand decision. And, they are looking for long-term, connected experiences that are as EFFICIENT as they are enjoyable.”
Which brands excel at creating customer loyalty?
I’m interested in hearing examples of when a company employee went above and beyond to make your buying experience a memorable one. How did you feel?
Did you purchase again because of that experience, even when you could buy somewhere else for a better price?
RingCentral interviews Stacy Sherman. Customer Experience article originally posted on their website.
Now, more than ever, listening to the customer has been vital. Yet, companies who solely focus on one area of the customer experience are often missing a key component of that process, creating a positive and compassionate environment where employees face customers every day and shape those moments for the better.
We spoke to customer experience leader and expert Stacy Sherman to learn more about how companies can create lasting customer loyalty through an engaged workforce.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?
I have been focused on customer experience and employee engagement at both big and small companies throughout my career. I currently work for Schindler Elevator Corporation and previously lead CX at Verizon. I am passionate about driving more people into the field of CX, as then we will have greater satisfaction everywhere. I live and breathe CX by day and have founded DoingCXRight, where I continue the work and practice in helping others when I am not at my day job.
What is the objective of your website and blog, DoingCXRight?
For me, it is all about doing and not talking, hence DoingCXRight. People often talk about creating a customer-centric culture, employee experiences, and driving employee engagement but don’t know how to do it. They also talk about inclusion and diversity of thought but don’t know how to do it either. Ultimately, a happy employee leads to a happy customer, so it is within the framework. A group of people who don’t know how to get into the CX field or realize they have a customer experience job that they have been doing but don’t recognize it. So that is part of my practice and framework to helping individuals and leaders to differentiate their brand. Personally and professionally.
It is really about doing and about not overusing the words “customer service” and “customer experience.” I want to help ensure that people are doing it right and not checking a box. I want to make sure that the real best practices are applied, and that is my purpose.
What advice would you give for creating original and authentic customer experiences?
I would first start with the basics:
Hire a customer experience expert
Institute customer experience measurements – NPS is a common one. Start there but it doesn’t end there.
Measure employee experiences and identify their level of satisfaction because they go hand-in-hand. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they pay it forward. The customers see it and feel too.
Institute voice of customer initiatives – where you intentionally get customer feedback across the customer journey at different moments of truth. It comes from structured surveys, for example, and unsolicited feedback from digital channels such as social media and reviews. Aggregate it all to understand what customers feel and what they’re saying to use that feedback and close the loop.
How would you advise brands to leverage digital channels and data for customer engagement?
Voice of the customer is a game-changer, and I have agood articleon that. It comes from traditional channels such as contact forms on your website and social media where the conversation is happening. You need to pay attention and respond because people are watching how the brand reacts, meaning you need to have very good governance around that.
Same for ratings and reviews, as consumers, we are often reading what others say and taking it as authentic, trustworthy reviews. So you need to have a handle on that. Then you can use technology to centralize all this voice of customer feedback, including chat or customer care representatives with notes/historical data. That way, you can prioritize the most common themes to identify the areas your team can use. The magic happens when you can do something with this throughout your organization.
You are also specialized in employee engagement. Could you tell us what the main factors behind engaged and happy employees are?
So I believe it is about giving employees a voice and empowering them to do what is right for the customers, even when the boss is not looking. When developing a new product or service, it is important to go to employees and ask them for feedback, especially the frontline interacting with customers every day. Incorporate them into your process, and when they are part of it, they own it too. It allows them to feel authentically connected to the project.
Secondly, when customers give feedback and mention an employee by name, don’t ignore that. Use it to praise them and acknowledge what great looks like. Then they will do more because it is natural when we feel appreciated; when we feel gratitude, we do more. That is a simple step to use customer feedback, where they often mention the name of the person who went above and beyond to help them. Even if it is negative feedback, do not ignore that either. Use it as a coaching opportunity rather than reprimand the employee. Really mentor the individual so that they can succeed. That is how you build a culture of caring and customer-centricity.
What was the book that inspired you the most this year?
The book that I found business and CX connections to it, which I wrote about in Forbes, is called “The Four Agreements”by Don Miguel Ruiz. Myarticleexplains why these four agreements are important at this time, but I will tell you about them briefly.
Do not make assumptions
Do not take anything personally
Be impeccable with your word
Always do your best
It is powerful because, for example, number one is “Do not make assumptions”. When customers do not have any feedback or their responsiveness is bad, they will make assumptions that can tarnish your brand. To communicate to mitigate that quickly, as a leader, you owe it to your employees to communicate well. There is a lot of leadership lessons in it.
I love the fact it is about being transparent. It is asking people what do they need; there is no reason to guess. Contact customers to ask them “what’s wrong?” so that employees don’t assume, don’t misinterpret, and avoid useless arguments.
“Do not take anything personally”; we often misinterpret stories and believe they have something to do with us when they don’t. A lot is going on with people’s lives at the moment, and we can’t take things personally, so that is where I will spend one-on-one time with my staff every week. There is no cookie-cutter approach. I spend time with each one of them and as a team as well. That’s a lot of time especially when you have a big team, but it is worth it because I do not want anyone to take something personally. The same goes for me; I do not want to take anything personally in a way that they do not understand. It is important to validate beliefs.
The next one is “Be impeccable with your word”; words are powerful, and we have to use them to build people up. We need to be intentional about what we say because perception is reality. We need to know our audience as some words can be misinterpreted depending on backgrounds, cultures, beliefs, so we need to personalize our messages. From customers to employees, colleagues to bosses.
The final one is about “Always do your best”; I love this statement because we often try to deliver 100 percent, but the fact is that there is no such thing. At some point, we all experience diminishing returns.
As a leader, I support work/life balance; I am more about managing energy than a clock. Therefore, making sure my team is motivated and engaged instead of feeling burned out.
What was your most outstanding experience as a customer in 2020?
Oh, there are so many good ones, but I would say Trader Joe’s. When I arrived at the store, they cleaned my shopping cart first, hand wiping each customers’ cart for safety. Then I go into the store, and all the staff welcomes me with a “Hello.” If I need any help to find something, they don’t just tell you “Aisle 4, on the right”, they walked me to the product I am looking for. Then the assistant opens a bag or offers to find me a sample to taste and make sure that I like the product. That level of service is a “wow moment. It, of course, then makes you want to buy that product.
I went to the checkout area soon after, my daughter happened to be with me on this occasion, and my daughter said “happy holidays” to the cashier. The woman at the register, who seemed to appreciate something so simple, went over to the florist section and brought back some flowers and gave them to my daughter. When she replied, “thank you, but what for?” the cashier said, “Just for being you.” This will encourage my daughter to say it more in the future after experiencing this act of kindness.
Again, it is all those things that add up and made the journey enjoyable. Once we got home and enjoyed the products, we looked up the Trader Joe’s community on Facebook, which customers started and where they share their experiences. They use products, something that is valuable and a dream come true for the brand.
Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
I would like to help more people get into the field of Customer Experience. I am happy for people to contact me. Furthermore, I believe that everybody has a “why?” and for me, that would be that I am on a mission to inspire people to create better experiences so that real human connections and happiness can exist. That is where I want to drive more of that and make a difference.
The boundary between home and work are less clear as Covid19 began. Like many people, I used to go to an office every day. Once the pandemic arrived, my job and personal space became intertwined as did my kids’ lives. They left their universities and abruptly returned to their childhood homes for an indefinite amount of time. We’ve all had to adapt and find new sources of joy while achieving a work and mom life balance simultaneously.
While many months have passed, people are still struggling with sudden changes while others are thriving. Much has to do with the stage of life people are in, their age, job function, and related variables.
I discussed balancing work and mom life topics on a podcast called “Talking Joy,” hosted by Pam Rotelle Robertson, along with two guests, Kelly Haire and Lindsey Garibaldi. We dug deep into the brutal truth about being working mothers, balancing jobs, and families while staying content during unpredictable times. We also shared what we’ve discovered about ourselves during the pandemic—making us stronger than we thought having tapped into inner resources that offer much-needed resilience during uncertain times.
We all agree that joy IS achievable when people are intentional about how they spend each day. And, with more joy comes better business results. As I always say, “happy employees fuel happy customers. They go hand in hand.”
Please listen to the podcast episode below. Let me know what you think (comment below), and how you are balancing work and mom life. If you are a Dad listening, I’m interested in hearing how you are balancing it all too while sustaining joy each day.
Have you ever done something so drastically different that you surprised yourself and others? That describes me, and I’ve learned a lot about habits and leadership from an experience. I’m sharing my story to inspire and motivate you to create positive changes by DOING, not talking about your goals. Doing creates confidence and ultimately greater happiness. Themore satisfied we feel, the better we can contribute at work and at home.
My journey began on December 23, 2019. While eating dinner with my family, I turned on a Netflix documentary called What the Health. I was fascinated by the show that I watched The Game Changers right after that. I was intrigued by the stories of those who had switched to a plant-based diet and no longer suffered from stomachaches, which I’ve endured since childhood. So, I decided to begin my own experiment having never made such a drastic change before. Within a few weeks, I felt positive impacts from my new whole foods lifestyle.
While I enjoyed my food journey for many months, it slowly ended as vegan life became too hard to keep up when my college kids returned home due to Covid19. I’ve maintained healthy habits and most importantly, proved to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to. You can too.
Whether you are facing a big change (like working from home during a pandemic) or a small change (like starting an exercise routine), your mental mindset matters a lot.
How To Make Changes For Personal & Professional Growth:
1. Just do it.
Don’t hem and haw when faced with change. As Nike says, just do it. Hesitation often leads to doing things the same old way and expecting a different result. Make the decision to start. If you’re unhappy, then give yourself permission to modify or stop what you’re doing without any guilt. There’s no one right or wrong way to do anything. Make your own path and do so with purpose.
2. There will be a lot of naysayers. Tune out the noise.
Everyone has opinions, and they often don’t hold back. That’s OK, but surround yourself with like-minded people. It makes the journey more enjoyable.
3. Look for opportunities that support your change.
I didn’t realize how many plant-based food options there would be in restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, etc. Even fast food and chain restaurants are catering to vegetarians and vegans. Starbucks recently announced that it’s adding oat milk to its menu in 1,300 stores.
As I discussed in a recent article, personalizing the customer experience is a smart business strategy to differentiate your brand. In the context of change, this also reinforces my point. When you commit yourself to making a change and keep your eyes open, you’ll see many opportunities all around you.
4. Small changes often have big impacts.
I’ve found that when we overthink or overcomplicate a task, it leads to accomplishing nothing. So, break down tasks in the pursuit of change. Remember that every action counts. If you only have 30 minutes to exercise instead of your usual hour, for example, commit to it for half an hour rather than pushing it off for another day — or never.
5. Be the master of your own fate.
There’s an inspiring line in the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” I first heard this quote in the movie Invictus, which my friend had recommended to me and I now recommend to others.
You control your destiny. The choices you make today impact tomorrow. Build your self-confidence and believe you can make positive changes. That’s when you will do the unimaginable. Morgan Freeman talks about this in more detail.
6. Be mindful — and reap the positive benefits.
Since switching my food choices, I am more mindful when shopping, cooking and eating. I now read labels, which I had never done before. I’m tasting so many new foods and trying restaurants I’d never had thought about. My diet requires me to get more creative, and that makes life more fun. So slow down and enjoy the little things about the change you’re making. I’ve found that being mindful about positive change amplifies happiness.
7. Find (and maintain) a support network.
When making a change, communicate to your friends and family that you need their support. Leverage communities on Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms — there is so much knowledge-sharing to go around. Find a partner and hold each other accountable.
8. Move forward from fear.
With any new habit, it’s normal to feel doubtful and fearful of the unknown. Recognize that it’s OK to feel that way but move forward without letting it hold you back. You’ll be glad you did. If you need inspiration, I recommend reading Feel the Fear…and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.
9. Recognize that change is not easy, but self-control is empowering.
Conquering anything challenging, whether it’s a new diet or exercise plan, or a new job or project can feel overwhelming when you first get started. Practice does make perfect and becomes rewarding. Be intentional and focused on your purpose by reminding yourself of the “why” behind the change every day.
10. Everyone has stories. Listen and adapt to what works for you.
As human beings, we’re all experiencing life in different ways. Take the time to ask questions and share your experience. Read books. Listen to podcasts and TEDx Talks. You may be surprised when something you already know resonates in a whole new way. Epiphanies happen when least expected.
What changes have you made and how has it affected your perspective? Which tip above resonates with you most, and what would you add to the list?
While there are many ways to create positive emotions to fuel brand trust, loyalty, and referrals, customer satisfaction starts with employees first. When employees are genuinely happy, it transfers to customers regardless of industry or location in the world. I know this first hand having worked at Global companies for over 20 years and from interviewing people during my business and personal travels. There are few individuals that stand out from my recent trip as they reinforce what I always say: People make the difference and serve as a brand differentiator.