9 customer experience mistakes you must now avoid at all cost.
HARARE, Today’s business world is characterized by very tough competition and survival can no longer be guaranteed to the fittest but to those that are fast to embrace customer experience concept no matter the size of the firm. Product and price advantages can now be easily copied unlike a strong customer service culture. It is now known that a customer with good experience is more likely to be more loyal, repurchase and recommend a product than a customer who is just satisfied. Satisfied customer tells five other people about their good experience. It is also believed that a 5% increase in loyalty can increase profitability by 25- 85%. A dissatisfied customer is believed to eventually tell 8-10 people.
Given these proven facts, I still find it difficult to understand why some organizations continue to make these or some of these mistakes:
- Not masking up.
Wearing a mask is now something which needs no further education. Masks are an essential measure to suppress transmission of covid-19 and save lives. Customer services representatives (in fact everyone in the organization) should always have their masks on. This will not only stop the spread of covid-19 but will also show that you are concerned about the health and safety of your clients at your offices. Clients want to feel safe when doing business with you. Always do so by masking up even if your clients are not doing the same.
- Putting customers first
Customers might be your king but do not prioritize them first. Your employees should come first. Charity begins at home. Same applies to customer experience. A great customer experience begins with the organization’s employees. Management should understand that employee experience leads the customer experience. Regrettably, the internal-customer experience habitually trails behind the external-customer experience as a principal management priority in many firms. An unhappy employee can spoil the brand experience of many customers. The formula is very simple; happy employees equal happy customers as Richard Branson put it.
- Executives and management failing to walk the talk
So many times at one organization when I witnessed a senior manager refusing to meet clients for awkward reasons for example “tell him I am in a meeting so I can’t see him”. At times the manager would tell subordinate to “do whatever you can to make sure that he leaves this place”. The same manager will tomorrow expect the same subordinate to believe that the customer is a king and that we must always put customers first. This is not possible, management should walk the talk and even lead by example.
This problem mainly emanate from the fact that managers would have been told of the importance of clients but failed to fully embrace the concept of customer experience.
- Paying little attention to company culture
Good customer experience requires a culture in which employees enthusiastically want to delight the customer rather than just knowing they ought to. Company culture is usually where brand promises are maintained or shattered. Firms do not set out to handle their customers badly but they may unintentionally generate a culture where poor customer experience is the rule rather than the exclusion. On the other hand, firms that are conscious of how corporate culture shapes the customer experience can deliberately nurture a workplace mindset that consistently delivers a positive experience.
- Not empowering customer services staff
Companies should permit customer services staff to do what their superiors do without having to consult them each and every time. This will allow customer issues to be resolved on the spot thereby shortening query processing time. If you do not empower staff because you do not trust them to make correct decision, then probably you should fire them and do it all by yourself, you should not have employed them in the first place. Peter Drucker pointed out that most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done. Management should not stand on the way of their subordinates but instead should support them. Employees should be given the opportunity to excel and be productive without feeling micromanaged and belittled. This will result in satisfied employees who are happy to take ownership of their job and eager to perform their best. Work enjoyment has a direct impact on customer experience.
- Viewing customer experience as; cheap
Firms must spend substantial time and resources in customer experience or otherwise they will spend most of their time firefighting. Smart, logical and result focused management should see customer experience as a crucial competitive strategy. The problem arises if management become short sighted. This maybe because they are under pressure to deliver short-term targets. They start to see customer experience as a cost, rather than an investment. This will hurt the company in the near future. Customer experience is not cheap but the costs of failing to invest in it are very high though regularly overlooked.
- Customer experience is for customer services department only.
Customer experience is every employee’s job. It is not for customer services staff only. It is not for customer care department only but for all the departments. Many companies overlook the need to engage the whole organization, including its support functions, in customer experience revolution. Most of the time, individual functions like IT, Finance, Marketing, and others have independent departmental objectives that are not aligned with customer experience goals and at times can even be in conflict.
This should be rectified as a matter of urgency by abolishing old organizational structures and adopt structures which support customer experience in all the departments. In order to do this, management should first of all understand that customer service is just part of customer experience and it is too broad to be managed by a mere customer service department but by the whole organization as one team.
- Customer service staff maybe replaced by anyone from within the company
Good customer experience is about getting the right employees to do the right thing at the right time. When a customer service staff leave the organization, managers at times take this as a small issue since they can simply transfer X from another department and replace the rep. Some managers have this attitude that customer service staff can be replaced easily. This is good, you saved the company a lot of money and time to look for a new recruit. You score high on this but who knows you might have robbed Peter to pay Paul and worse still does that person have the required skills to work as a customer representative? You might be shortchanging your customers without knowing it. The bad thing is you will slowly lose your customers without knowing it. A good experienced customer service employee has knowledge of systems, products and processes and would have built good relationships with clients that takes years to build. You therefore cannot easily replace ten years of experience with your week long orientation.
- Underestimating the importance of feedback
Feedback is very important and firms should be seen actively engaging customers to give feedback at all the company’s touch points. Management must also take note of passive feedback and record it as well. Remember it should not end at just collecting feedback, it is imperative to entirely scrutinize these records in order to uncover the most from this data.
Collecting and analyzing data is not enough. The firm should go on and act on customer feedback. If it is negative feedback it should be treated as a learning experience and not as a means to victimize and nail down employees. If feedback is positive managers should not keep this to themselves but relay this to the whole team. This will boost the team’s confidence levels and they will be highly motivated and will be striving to do more or better than before.
Farai Francis Zhara holds an MBA from the National University of Science and Technology and a BCom from Midlands State University. He is a certified client services practitioner with over a decade in the insurance sector. He writes in his personal capacity. [email protected]