Never mind the script – Listen to your customer

Listen to your customer

Research in 2010 shows clearly what to do in delighting customers.  Please don’t!

This flies in the face of established wisdom. We are all told that customer satisfaction is our goal, the Holy Grail of attracting and retaining customers, and making a better future for us and our families. But this isn’t what gets you customer loyalty.

So what really influences customer loyalty?

There are shelves of books devoted to ways of achieving this – can they all be wrong?

Partially, yes. Recent research tells us that customers are a lot less likely to change allegiance than we thought, even after complaining about some aspect of the service.

Customer loyalty is much more influenced by finding ways to make less work for the customer than delighting them in dazzling service. All the customer is trying to do is to solve his or her problem. Do this well and quickly with little effort from the customer and you will be rewarded with loyalty.

True Story

We have just moved broadband package but with the same provider, so this should be painless and quick, right? Not so. The salesman got it absolutely right, but the installation manager hadn’t read the notes and thought we wanted a brand-new line when we just wanted an upgrade. He clearly hadn’t listened even as when the engineer arrived to install a new line. The engineer listened and 15 minutes later, a simple switch of router, more bandwidth, job done and it was an easy day for him. Then a failure to stop the first contract and start the second meant wrong billing and 2 long phone calls before it got resolved.  What should have been easy gave us (the customer) work and made me reflect on how much I wanted to deal with them.

The solution was simple enough – never mind the script, listen to your customer.

What to focus your effort on

Is exceeding expectations better than meeting needs? Never! Don’t worry if you don’t get glowing testimonials, nice though they are. Worry about meeting basic needs first. In the research, 20% of satisfied customers still said they would leave, whilst 28% of dissatisfied customers were staying. Customer satisfaction scores are misleading, as they don’t measure the right thing.

How to get it right

  1. Get out of your bubble.

Don’t assume you know what problems your stuff solves. Ask customers, walk the journey with them, get into detail. We’ve covered this a lot in our blogs on Innovation, starting with this one.

  1.  2.      Design your processes to be customer friendly.

 Not for your internal efficiencies. Computer should never say ‘no’. Team members should be able to deviate from scripts and be taught to listen to customers. The research shows customers are fed up with:

  1. repeated requests to solve problems,
  2. having to repeat information (“its security” – what, twice?), and
  3. having to switch contact channel (website to phone to second department)
  4. Team members should be empowered to fix problems.

They shouldn’t have to resort to manager approval. If you need help with how to get your people able to do this, ask us. It’s not that hard and saves you a ton of work, helping your business grow. After all, if the decision bottleneck is you, growth is slow at best.

  1.  4.      Use your personal experiences.

Consider all the interactions you have had as a customer. Make sure your customers don’t get as frustrated and annoyed as you have. It’s surprising how many people detach their own business from their personal experience of being someone else’s customer.

Nip it in the bud

When you get an issue resolve it, and:

Head off the next one. When its fixed ring them! Don’t wait for them to ring you. When you sell something, will the customer know how to use it? How about a quick How to conversation at the point of sale?

Head off emotional issues – sometimes the customer doesn’t believe the salesperson, or thinks they are hiding behind “policy”. Some basic instruction (again, we can help) on personality types can allow the rep to tailor their approach. Make sure language doesn’t become a barrier – words like “can’t” “don’t” and won’t” need changing. “We don’t have that in stock” can become “We will have that available in two weeks”

Minimise channel switching by making sure your digital offering and manuals are jargon free, easy to navigate and understand (an 8 year old child is a good guinea pig) so that people who start with the FAQs or manual don’t have to phone or email so much, which is cheaper for you.

Get feedback from disgruntled customers, as it’s usually more illuminating than hearing from satisfied ones.

Empower the front line and don’t worry too much about how many calls they answer etc. If the number of calls is all they are judged by then that will be their only target which doesn’t bode well for customer service. We’ve all had those rushed calls leaving us feeling dissatisfied and not listened to.

How many customers do you want?

A final thought on mitigating customer disloyalty: we did some research locally, albeit some years ago. We found that satisfied customers told 7 people – so 7 potential new customers. Dissatisfied customers told 19 people. Listen to their needs  and make life easy for them, and maybe you will have  19 potential customers instead of 7?

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