We have all received dreadful customer service. It happens over the phone, in person and online. It can make us angry, frustrated and disappointed, and left wondering why the business would allow their staff, or their automation, to treat us so badly? Yet all of us have the potential to disregard what our customers experience.
Do you really know what your customers experience when they work with or approach your company? How can you find out?
This post was inspired by a comment I received from Maureen Sharib: “Companies are either purposely making it difficult to get through, or whoever they’re hiring to set these things up has a very poor design and companies never call to experience the frustration their customers encounter when calling.”
While many companies do make it difficult for customers to reach them, I believe many executives, the ones with the power and authority to create change, do not know what their customers experience. This applies to every company, no matter its size or revenue.
When was the last time you did an audit of how your customers experience your company? If you can’t answer that question, or it was several years ago, it’s time to make it happen. Here are some of the steps you can take to verify that you are always creating the excellence that exemplifies your brand:
- Record some of your outbound and inbound calls. What do you hear? Are your customers being engaged in conversation or being rushed off the phone? Are they being listened to or being told what to think and do? Are they being treated with respect and compassion or as an interruption and annoyance?
- If your customers interact with you and your staff in person, then take the time to watch what happens – or even hire a mystery shopper. Are customers welcomed to your office, restaurant or store? Do they have access to assistance when necessary? Are they offered a beverage, told how long they may have to wait for their appointment, given everything they need to be comfortable?
- When commitments are made to your customers, are they fulfilled? Are deadlines kept? If not, how often does this happen and why does it happen?
- When was the last time you reviewed all your automated processes? What does your phone system say to callers? Do all those extensions still apply? Are there too many choices? Are all staff members mentioned, including recent hires? Are employees mentioned who have left the company? How long is the wait time on hold? What music is playing? Is it offensive to some, full of static or too loud?
- What information is easily available to your customers? Is it up to date? Are there broken links on your website? Are your hours of business still correct?
- What are your customers saying about you? When was the last time you did a detailed customer survey? This is something every business should do in order to improve and grow. You can create this yourself or have a third party conduct the survey independently. You want to make sure you receive honest feedback that you can act on.
- Are your customers looking for you on social media … and you’re not there? Check out your feeds, look for your company name with or without a hashtag to discover if comments have been posted about your company and service. If your customers are talking about you on social, you need to be there!
- Are you being discussed online on other websites, newsletters or articles? When was the last time you did a general internet search on your company to find out what customers are saying about you?
- If customers have access to your cell phone number, what does your voicemail message say?
- And what about your email messages? Are they on brand? Is the logo up to date? The phone number? Your title?
All of us are guilty of not reviewing our customer service systems. Now’s the time. With September only moments away, let’s enter the busy Fall season knowing we are delivering excellence. And if you encounter a company that treats you badly … send the CEO a copy of this post!
By the way … what would you add to this list?