10 Tips to improve customer service communication
Over the last couple of decades, I have worked with companies all over the world to help them to develop their customer experience strategies. It is always interesting to see how each and every company approaches customer experience in a different way, but there are some key ingredients that make certain brands become truly outstanding in the eyes of their customers.
Of course, some of the leading brands in customer experience are among the world’s largest and most famous companies, but there are some important lessons that smaller companies can take away too. Here I have tried to distil some simple ideas and strategies down into tips that will help shape your customer experience and improve service communication.
- Intelligence, augmented
Even in the digital world, people like to deal with people. But an outstanding customer experience happens when you figure out how to improve the level of human service using technology.
You cannot expect customer service staff to remember every detail of every individual’s history with the company. However, it is very easy to have a system that quickly gives that key information, enabling humans to say the right thing at the right time, and create a more personalised experience.
- Be fast and fun
If you want to be successful, make sure you are fast, easy, and fun. I see a lot of organizations working on the fast and easy part, but they forget the fun.
People like to be entertained, to be wowed, to be surprised. Invest in that. Happy customers make happy employees, and the cool thing is that this does not need to involve some complex technologies or big changes – just focus on some ideas that inject a bit more fun to their customers’ lives.
- Be a friction hunter
One of my favorite games to play with clients is an exercise where we turn every employee into a “friction hunter.” I invite them to look for any type of irritation or unpleasantness in the customer journey, however small. Then you put a name next to each friction and you give that person four weeks to solve it.
When that time has passed, you bring the team back together, discuss what worked and what not, and improve what needs improving. And you play that game again and again. All the small improvements add up to make a big difference, but it also creates a culture where people are really sensitive for the details in the customer journey and communication.
- Celebrate successes
Many companies just never seem happy with what they achieve for their customers. It feels like they’re always striving for perfection – which of course never happens – before the celebrate, and it is incredibly sad.
Of course it is fantastic to have ambitious plans, but it’s also important for the morale of your team to celebrate your small successes that improve your customer experience. It gives a boost of energy to everyone, and you’ll soon look back on the many small celebrations to realise you made a big difference.
- Always fix it
When something goes wrong during a transaction between you and your customer, it can be tempting to look for who made the mistake. It’s a waste of energy, time and risks a good relationship.
Just focus on fixing the problem as soon and as best as you can. Delaying the fix by finger pointing risks annoying the customer, and you know you will end up fixing it in the end anyway! Of course there is value in learning from what went wrong, but do it without involving the customer.
- Empower employees to choose for the customer
Make sure that your frontline staff are empowered to take decisions on their own in favour of the customer. The phrase “I will need to ask my boss how to solve this” doesn’t reflect well on the company culture, whereas the individual being able to solve the problem quickly and efficiently on their own creates an outstanding experience.
- Go live with your customers
When I spoke to Disney’s former Head of Innovation and Creativity, Duncan Wardle, for my podcast, this was one of the more intriguing pieces of advice he gave me. He argues that many executives are too far removed from their customers, so fail to understand what is really important to them – “I would advise to make it mandatory for everybody in your organization who is not in direct contact with the consumer to go spend a day per year in their living room. It will ground you in becoming a consumer centric organization.”
- Tell your employees a story
One of the keys a great customer experience is having employees that are fully onboard with the idea across the whole organisation. One of the secrets of Amazon’s success is that they are masters of storytelling, and they find concepts that stick, then repeat them until every last employee, customer and partner knows about them. They engrain the company vision in the heads of employees so they feel, breathe and act according to them, and the key to that is great storytelling.
- Focus on Joy
As well as being a data and algorithm driven company, Netflix also pride themselves on being a very human brand. Their customer support teams are not only very accessible, but are also trained to focus on proactively bringing ‘Joy’ to the customer. When a technical issue goes wrong and affects the service, they don’t wait for the customer to call to fix it – they might proactively offer a bill reduction that may only be small in monetary value, but makes the customer feel much more positive about the brand.
- Be honest and transparent
Tesla are now one of the kings of customer experience, but they know they’re not perfect. They consciously make this honesty and transparency an important part of the Tesla brand in a way that is unusual in the automotive industry.
Take the story of how the delivery dates of the Model 3 kept being pushed back due to manufacturing issues. Customers were becoming disappointed and worried so Tesla decided to be completely honest about its challenges. Elon Musk even directly responded to concerns voiced on Twitter, with honest updates on the situation.
Problems and mistakes happen. Customers will understand that, as long as the communication around them happens openly and honestly.