Stop and think of the best customer experience you have had recently- the over-the-top experience that stayed with you.
What do you remember about the experience? Was it the excellent food, the new item you bought or a delivery that went smoothly?
The data tells the story:
- 70% of buying experiences are based solely on how the customer feels they are being treated
- 73% become loyal to a company based on a friendly staff and great service
and my favorite:
- 80% of companies believe they deliver superior customer service…but only 8% of customers said they agree.
It (almost) always comes down to a person. An employee that uses their super powers to provide a memorable customer experience. That intangible feeling that leaves us with a desire for more.
What makes some employees super heroes? Some have the golden touch, but a stand out customer-centric, do-whatever-it-takes attitude doesn’t happen in a vacuum: it comes from companies that train, respect, trust and empower their employees.
Empowered employees are those employees who never utter those detested words “I will have to call a manager” or “please hold while I find someone who can help you” or “I am so sorry for your inconvenience” which is often the prelude to a migraine- mine! Employees who are allowed to make decisions even if that means making mistakes. As the CEO of Bonobos states:”Empowered to take care of customers in the moment.”
THE POWER OF TIME
I was online at a store, waiting to pay for a skirt. There was only one cashier and the person she was helping was arguing over a return. I asked another clerk if they could open a 2nd register, to be told that only the manager could authorize it and she, of course, was on a break. I put down my item as did 4 people behind me.
Empower to take care of customers in the moment: Imagine if this store had empowered their staff to check out their customers on their cell phone or a tablet. She could have walked over to the line and checked out those of us with 1-2 items, while we were waiting. Shorter lines for people with more items, 5 more purchases and 5 happy customers.
Every business can turn their team into customer experience super heroes. It takes a little imagination, a lot of determination and 3 simple steps:
3 STEPS TO EMPOWER YOUR HIDDEN SUPERHEROES:
- CROSS-TRAIN: Educate your staff on how the different departments operate. I spoke to a woman who was hired by a retailer to work in their accounting department. She spent a month working in the loading dock, the sales floor and shipping departments before she was assigned a desk. The experience made her see the company as a sum of its departments and gave her a deeper understanding of processes and challenges. Suggestion: Send your scheduler out on deliveries/repairs; have a server work the kitchen for a week; have the office manager work the front desk.
- LISTEN: Customer feedback is critical to any business success, but so is employee feedback. Create anonymous surveys for your employees where they can share what is working and what isn’t. Which processes, tools or systems are useful, are a waste of time or are actually impeding their work? What do they want or need to grow their super powers?
- EMPOWER: Empower your staff to make mistakes without fear. Think of them as entrepreneurs, people who see opportunities where others see obstacles. Nordstroms allows their sales staff to sell across departments, empowering a salesperson in dresses to bring shoes and accessories to the fitting room. Empower your front desk to solve the problem without uttering “Let me find someone….” and allow your server to replace a dish that disappointed. Think like your customer.
As Sir Richard Branson said, “Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
We live in a world where the customer has endless choices where to spend their money, yet 9 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they would pay more to ensure a superior customer experience. One report found “Competing on price isn’t the most effective way to build an enduring business. Great service, delivered time and time again, is defensible against the stiffest and most well-funded competition” .
I tell my clients as they are starting a new venture or expanding their company, that regardless of what business they are in, it is all about the customer experience and you need to experience your customers experience to see, feel and hear what they are experiencing. Even customer complaints provide a wealth of insight. Empower your employees to take care of your customers. They will both reward you for it.
“We are superior to the competition because we hire employees who work in an environment of belonging and purpose. We foster a climate where the employee can deliver what the customer wants. You cannot deliver what the customer wants by controlling the employee.”