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Customer Satisfaction A Metric for Success ? Part 2
Great customer service doesn't just happen.
It starts with employees who have been trained in the real touch and feel of service. We actually have an internal 'manual' on good customer interaction and were successfully able to adapt it for the new customer service training seminars we offer for local customers.
In just the past three months, we`ve conducted seminars for doctors` offices and a print services company.
Listen First ? Sometimes our people have to resist the temptation to jump in on a call and tell the person the solution before he or she has expressed the problem or issue as they see it. Listening lets the person know that someone understands, someone cares.
One of the things we emphasize is great response starts with great "listening."
? Set up Google Alerts for your brand and industry keywords.
? Keep a close eye on your Facebook page.
? Listen on Twitter.
? Depending on the type of business you have, read reviews on sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and Zagat.
? Make a list of any forums or communities where your customers congregate and regularly check in on them.
Expect some criticism and recognize that forum critics are actually doing you a favor. They`re helping you learn to be a better company. Unfortunately, for every person who actually speaks up, many more walk away quietly, never to return.
Not all negative comments are worth a response; and not all critics are worth trying to win over. Sometimes, as hard as it can be, it`s best just to move on.
Avoid these situations:
? The criticism lacks objectivity or even actual firsthand experience and is on a really small blog or forum where your response will only bring attention and credibility to something that wasn`t even a valid issue in the first place.
? It`s a blatant attack that`s clearly rude and outrageous?and anyone who reads it can see the critic has a personal problem.
? A known crackpot who is only looking to pick a fight.
It`s hard and against my own inner self to take the step back? and often I`ve engaged foolishly in these scenarios believing a reasonable person was on the other end with a level of objectivity.
Win Over, Can`t Win
There are plenty that want to be won over, but those that just want to raise ire, debate for the sake of debate - there`s just no way to win in these scenarios.
Tread Lightly ? Anyone who calls customers service is irritated, it`s just human nature ? they simply shouldn`t be having this problem. Most issues are solved simply by listening and offering calm advice. However, there are some calls that just can`t be handled no matter how much you try.
So stay out, move on, keep your head up and focus on the wrongs you can right, the things you can improve upon and thank those for their contribution.
Other times, providing a response away from the forum may be warranted. It makes a real person with real contact information available; so if the person is still angry, you`ve at least specified a place to vent other than online.
Keep in mind, when you move off the forum, the world can`t see all the effort you put into fixing the problem. No one sees the private email where you give that sincere apology. No one can search for that phone conversation where you politely explain why the situation happened in the first place.
Responding on the forum doesn`t mean you can`t explain your side of the story and start a conversation.
You just need to be in the right mindset:
? Don`t get emotional.
? Remember, it`s a real person. Just as they see you as a faceless company, it`s easy to see them as just another complainer.
? Show empathy, communicate in a friendly tone and use your real name. And if the forum supports it, it helps to include your actual photo.
? It`s easy to yell and scream at an anonymous company. But when someone shows up and says, "Hi, this is Emily and I`m so sorry for the trouble?" it changes everything.
? The critic now realizes he wasn`t yelling at a giant, faceless company. He was yelling at Emily. Quickly, the anger fades?and you`ll often get an apology.
? Consider the difference between an apology like "We`re sorry you feel that way" to "Absolutely, positively unacceptable"?which was the headline to FedEx`s blog post after a delivery driver was caught throwing a package over a customer`s fence.
? And it doesn`t get much better or more direct than Jeff Bezos` apology for how they handled pulling copies of 1984 and other novels off Kindles:
Apologizing is part of turning around negative word of mouth, but actually fixing a problem is how you really win critics over.
We all make mistakes. It`s how we fix them that people remember.
When you resolve an issue online, in public, you earn positive word of mouth.
For the same effort and cost, thousands more people see that you actually care about customers. Plus, you save on all the people who now don`t need to call in (or write a similarly angry post) to find an answer to the same question.
For example, a blogger might share how he`s frustrated with a particular product feature; in which case, you might turn to your Facebook or Twitter fans with this message:
"Hey guys! Chris over at [blog name] is having trouble with [feature]. Can anyone share how they`re using it?"
Marketing needs to adopt a messaging strategy that is buyer-focused. The days of generic, catch-all messages are behind us. Buyer-focused messaging requires marketing to have a combination of client, industry and market knowledge. Messages that are buyer-focused and create demand are carefully constructed so they:
? Resonate ? demonstrate how the seller`s solutions solve high-value problems and provide opportunities
? Motivate ? attract attention because they speak to the customer at the right point in their decision-making process.
? Differentiate ? make the customer decision easy by highlighting what is unique about the seller`s solutions.
Some executives are reluctant to invest in social media because they don't see the return; but experts argue that this is short-sighted because you could say the same thing about maintaining an 800 number or answering emails from customers.
Retail has always been an industry with a high level of customer interaction and providing a satisfying shopping experience is integral to sales. It`s really no different for ecommerce, particularly as consumers remain cautious and need incentives to spend.
A recent survey conducted among attendees at Forrester`s Customer Experience Forum found that 87 percent believed online customer experience management was "more important now than ever before." Unfortunately, only half had implemented online customer-oriented strategies.
While online customer-oriented strategies are increasingly gaining recognition for their importance, organizations should be aware that it`s also about attention to detail and passion for delivering award-winning service and support to each and every customer.
Deliver Consistently ? Superior customer service begins with a product that satisfies the customer; and when problems arise, they get solved quickly and to the customer`s satisfaction. It`s easy to say, but excellent customer service is a constant work-in-progress.
This level of customer service and support, combined with a commitment to deliver the highest standards of innovation and product quality, are key to earning customer loyalty one customer at a time.
Founder/CEO of OWC
Other World Computing
Keywords:customer service, customer support
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