By Laura Petrolino
Today, friends, I’m going to give you the secret to the improve customer experience in one easy step.
Better yet, it will continue to yield tremendous results year-after-year. And the results will only amplify as time goes on.
And for only six easy payments of $19.99…..ok, no…just joking. It will cost you nothing.
Not one million dollars
Not one thousand dollars
Not even one hundred dollars….
Zero dollars! You heard me right, ZERO DOLLARS
(Just practicing my infomercial script writing skills for the next time Gini Dietrich fires me…not that I’ll listen and actually leave, but just in case she decides to cut off my pay and I need to moonlight as an infomercial writer).
But really, it will cost you nothing.
Why Caring Matters
So what is this magic bullet to improve customer experience?
Actually…I lied (LIAR).
Care about your customers AND the integrity of the product or service you provide.
When we hire team members, we look for people who are truly passionate about what they do.
They love the craft of communication and the area they specialize in—whether that be social, earned media, content, or something else.
And that passion spills over into every project we work on.
Likewise, they care about the clients we serve. Not just to keep them happy enough to stay, but both on personal and professional levels.
We are invested in their success because we see it as symbiotic with our own.
That perspective permeates everything we do and the relationships we build with each client.
It is how we improve customer experience and something we see as a really key factor it what makes us great.
How to Improve Customer Experience: A Parable
The day after my competition I was at the gym (surprise, surprise) just trying to get blood into my muscles and move around a bit.
I finished a set and out of the blue something tweaked in my neck…and tweaked badly.
It caused an instant migraine and made me feel dizzy and nauseated.
I had pinched a nerve.
So here I am, far from home, basically unable to move my neck and knowing I faced a long flight the next day.
A long-time patient and believer in chiropractic care, I spotted a chiropractic office across from the gym.
I knew it was a long shot and I was taking a chance, but we drove by so I could get the number (did I mention this was a Sunday….a day that NOTHING is open).
When we got back to the hotel I called and got the office message.
The doctor gave his cell phone number in case of an emergency.
I wasn’t a current client.
I didn’t live in-state even, so it’s not like I’d become a client.
I was just some random chick, calling and interrupting him on a lovely summer Sunday.
But pain speaks louder than politeness. And I have a VERY high pain tolerance (after years being beat up in various sports), so when I’m actually in enough pain to admit it, you know it’s bad.
So I called.
He asked if I could be at his office in the next 20 minutes (um…are you kidding? I would find a way to travel to Mars and back at that point, if it meant some relief).
We got there and he treated me, essentially allowing me to function again, and, more importantly, make it home the next day.
I was willing to pay him out-of-pocket versus dealing with anything insurance-wise, but as I tried to figure out what I owed him, he dismissed it, gave me his card, and just asked I write a review (which I’ve blanketed the interwebz with and will continue to everywhere I can).
This is the essence of caring.
- He cared for me as a patient. For my well-being, not for the business/revenue I could provide him.
- He cared about the service he provided and the responsibility he felt as a chiropractor to help those who needed him.
He cared. And I’m sure this same care improves the customer experience he provides for patients—both new and old, daily.
I’m sure it also permeates through his entire team, not only in hiring decisions, but in action through example (the leader always sets the tone).
When you care you not only provide a better “customer experience,” but you simply do a better job.
Intention affects execution.
Every. Single. Time.
What to Do if You Don’t Care
But sometimes….caring is hard.
You are exhausted. You are stressed. You are busy. You’re simply burned-out.
And it’s not that you don’t care, but you get caught up in the triage of leading or running a business and you allow it to distance you from the original passion which fueled your initial career or business choices.
So what do you do?
- Take a freaking break already. Duh? We’ve discussed this before, but the idea of taking a break isn’t just some voodoo, self-help mush mash (trust me, I’m type capital A, I know you can convince yourself it is, and not something you need to do because you are tougher and better than everyone else)...it’s scientifically proven. This includes both longer breaks, where you completely step away from everything work related (COMPLETELY step away) and shorter ones throughout the day.
- Get back in the trenches. Often as you progress through your career, you also move away from doing the actual work and the front-line contact with customers—that work which fueled your initial passion. You become removed from the customer and what you do on a daily basis to improve customer experience. Everything becomes somewhat “theoretical.” The problem with theory is you lose a lot of important nuance and it’s easy to detach and lose that relationship-driven empathy that creates a great customer experience. So get back in there on a frequent and consistent basis. And make sure everyone else on the leadership team does, as well. Not only will this reignite your sense of caring, it will help you see first hand obstacles that might be in the way of your customer touch points providing the best experience possible.
- Review and live your mission. Mission and value statements are often written with great excitement and then sit like a dusty textbook, never to be seen again. But these are the core of why you care, why you do what you do, and how you should strive to improve customer experience. Pull them out, dust them off, and review the ways your current customer experience does or does not fulfill them.
- Focus on one customer at a time. Do you know why non-profits often pull out one story and present it as a case study for what they do, or a plea for donations? Because, as humans we connect with stories. It’s easier for us to feel a deep empathy to the plight and triumph of one story versus the general plea of a community that needs help. Our natural tendency is to want to help that one person, make a difference in that one life, not to mention it’s much more manageable. Ask someone to help save a whole city and they feel overwhelmed and look to someone else to do it. Ask someone to save one person, or make their life better in some way and they feel empowered and driven. Put this same psychology into play for yourself and your team and pull out one or two really motivating customer case studies every few weeks to connect to and learn from.
Caring does come naturally to us as humans and it will improve customer experience.
Often we just need to break down the walls we’ve put between ourselves and our empathy to remember why each customer matters, and adjust our operations accordingly.
image credit: pixabay