Month: March 2019

Never tell a customer “how can I help you?”

Help! Are you kidding me? It is amazing how things have changed and how customer’ needs are evolving. Customer Experience is very much influences customer buying behavior. Customer buying behavior is influenced by small sensitive things that have nothing to do with the technical attributes of products. Today the f eel of the purchase environment and the warmth of the sales persons play an important role in buying behavior..

How can you ask a customer “How can i help you”. The word “help” puts you in the position of strength and the customer in the position of weakness. To help sounds like you are the hero, the solution and the customer the victim. Interesting right!

What is the right thing to say?  You should ask the customer “how you may assist them” as this puts you in the position of service and reechoes the notion of the customer as the king. Businesses are born to meet customer needs and customer centric organizations can achieve this corporate goal through a delightful customer experience.

Positive Language is key

This customer experience trend must be able to echo through all services from the public sector, down to hospitals, schools and businesses. There is this general conception that customer service in developing countries is for Businesses. In this information age, poor service is easily shared and condemned. Positive language has to be considered as a way of life and an integral part of every profession. Expressions like “no”, “I don’t know” must give way to responses like “this is what i will do about it”.

Words have power

Words have power and the power of words is the charm of sales. Today the sales person has to be able to create lasting relationships with customers. This means creating value for the customers and in return value for the firm. You have to use words that bring your customers back; you have to use words that make your customers feel right.

This is the way forward:

1.      Always appreciate your customers genuinely.

This begins with your colleagues. Which words do you use on your colleagues? and are they the same words you would love them to use on you. Learn to appreciate what they do. Begin seeing the little things they did right and not focusing on what they did wrong. Appreciation heals. Appreciation creates real bonds and builds trust.

2.      Never condemn or complain.

No one likes being condemned. It is very easy to complain and condemn others. It is easy to point out faults in others because its easy to see them. I am not asking you never to point out the mistakes. the advice is to do so constructively.

A customer service expert is one who masters the use of positive language. Words that heal, Words that create bonds, and Words that nurse loyalty. Great words win the heart and make the sale. A customer service professional must be able to create a bridge between the heart of the company and the heart of the customer through strong positive words.

Predictive Data Analytics the Future of the Customer Service Industry

The Customer service industry is one of the fastest growing industries in modern business. This could be explained by two main concepts:

  1. The fact that business leaders are beginning to see how much profits they could consolidate through an efficient loyalty program, that pushes repeat purchase and reduces churn rates.
  2. The growth in technologies which permits to better manage queues, obtain feedback faster and improve on the customer experience at touch points.

The increased use of Customer Relationship management(CRM) software has provided companies with greater insights and more visibility on their clients. CRM paves the way to more complex Predictive and Data Analytics software.

Now it is possible for a bank to know that a customer will need a loan even before he/she shows up for one, it is possible for a Telecom firm to know the customers preferences and ability to subscribe for products and services even before they show up. Now it is possible to know a customer is about to terminate his/her relationship with us and avoid such termination before it happens.

Now companies can take smarter decisions not only because of the intellectual and emotional quotients of their staff. But also through the aid of predictions made from customer behaviour and preferences.

As more and more companies are adopting these technologies, there is need for the skill set to manage it. Technology is taking a central role in customer experience management and explains the increasing need for Data Analyst in Corporations.

Though many multinationals are conscious of this and are shifting investments towards digital platforms and data analytics software, many firms still believe in traditional models and continue to over burden front line staff allot of manual work, rendering them less and less productive.

For more efficiency, front line staff no longer need only customer service competencies, but also ability to use CRMs and enter all basic data obtained from customers. Front line staff are contact points and could be able to obtain the highest information during sales. They must be able to engage constructive and professional discussions that feed the CRM with detailed information.

The customer service industry is growing at a geometric rate, the more data we have on our clients during interactions at touch points, the higher the ability to exceed the customers expectations. Predictive data Analytics is taking the central stage and becoming a topical trend in the customer experience industry.

Customer Intimacy : The greatest business secret

To achieve sustainable market shares, companies must embrace a competitive strategy. Treacy, M. & Fred Wiersma, F (2017) describe 3 competitive strategies to be used; operational excellencecustomer intimacy and product leadership.

A customer intimate company provides superior value by clearly segmenting its markets and fine tuning its products or services to exactly meet the needs of targeted customers. Such a company focuses on satisfying unique customer needs by establishing close relationship with and intimate knowledge of the customer. Empowering its people to respond quickly to customer needs. Kotler, P., Gary, A., & Margaret H. (2005). 

Today in some business units the customers are mere numbers, in some hospitals patients are called by their bed numbers. Is your customer nothing beyond a telephone number, or customer ID? Do we know our customers by their names? Do we go beyond business relations to know the customer for whom they are and go an extra mile to personalize the transaction?

Many corporations have a KYC (Know your Customer) sheet. To some staff KYC is just part of the procedure to be fulfilled and nothing more. Other give the customer the KYC to fill and never look at it.

Do we really know our customers, do we know their preferences?

Remember that customers have needs. One characteristic of needs is that they are heterogeneous. Two people may request for the same product or the same service but this will be used to satisfy separate needs. The winning sales person is he who goes beyond the product and service to focuses on satisfying the customers’ needs.

One who engages in strong professional relationships with the customers. Staff who are customer intimate are generally better sales persons as they drive more repeat sales and can also advise the customers on the best products.

Customers need to know we can meet their needs. They want to trust you. They want to feel comfortable dealing with you, they want to feel understood, they want to feel important. Building strong customer relationships is the first step to meeting these basic customer needs.

Management teams that only focus on procedures and policies and do not give credit to staff that thrill customers with positive relationships are definitely on the wrong track.

We must learn to build customer intimate businesses, we must learn to become customer intimate staffs and we will be able to move from sales persons to customer opinion leaders. We do not sell products and services; we sell promises of satisfaction. We do not interact with customers, we relate with them.

References

Treacy, M. & Wiersma, F. (1997). The discipline of market leaders: choose your customers, narrow your focus, dominate your market. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.

Kotler, P., Gary, A., & Margaret H. (2005). Principles of marketing. Toronto: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Why Companies continue to have poor service

The need to eliminate poor customer service is no longer news. Many organisations have this as a business objective but the reality is; they often fail to meet this objective because of 3 simple misconceptions.

Companies wrongly believe they are providing service excellence

While organisations think they have an 80% great service and 20% amelioration to do, the customers think they have 6% good service and 94% amelioration to do. Most organisations have a wrong perception of their Customer Experience level. To know what your customers think about you, start listening to the voice of the customer, through appropriate feedback systems.

Organizations don’t understand the significance of customer service

Many organisations have a very wrong perception of what customer Service is. Some think good service is having a customer service department and big customer service titles. Some organisations still use 1990 customer service skills to serve 2019 customers. Many still adore NPS as though it is the only customer experience metric, failing to understand that the customer life-cycle has 5 stages and each stage has its own metrics. You must rethink your customer service strategy and philosophy.


Organisations don’t know how to deliver consistent, high quality customer service on an on-going basis

Customer service is a culture. Not a one time show. It must be inscribed in the organisations strategic plan and must have a clear policy manual. Note that the more customer service friendly you become, the higher your customers’ expectations and the need for even better service. Customer Service is the very essence of the business.

Now you can see why despite the buzz about customer experience. Many companies still have very poor service, and keep doing the things customers hate.

Cameroon Public Sector Customer Experience: Governments Biggest Failure!!!

It is very common for Civil Servants in Cameroon to give extremely poor customer service to those who visit public offices. A recent survey done by Institute of Customer Service Cameroon demonstrate that of 10 sectors surveyed, public and para-public companies as well as state agencies and ministries have the lowest customer experience score in the Country.

This consistent poor service affects the very productivity of state corporations and the internal customer service explains the low morale and lack of patriotism in civil servants.

This poor service has 5 obvious consequences:

–        It reduces the confidence of the public in the government in place.

–        Makes the delivery of public services very costly and inefficient.

–        Accounts for the falling output of public sector employee’s performance.

–        Makes it difficult for government to achieve its mission.

When state agencies focus on improving the citizen experience—for instance, making it easier to complete a transaction in a more timely manner, this can improve the citizen’s voluntary compliance, make the delivery of services more cost effective, and improve the citizen’s trust in government. (D’Emidio et Al,2017)

One of the best ways governments can demonstrate that they work better for the people is by improving the customer experience with government services. This can be achieved by making public sector customer experience a top priority, simplifying and speeding up the way people get public services such as paying taxes, obtaining arrears and allowances, the ease with which people make their way through airport security, through ministerial services, as well as all other services government provides.

Meyers. M. et Al (2016), stipulate that as governments look to build a workforce able to tackle the tough, interconnected challenges of the 21st century, strengthening the government employee experience is particularly critical. By treating employees as customers, agencies have the chance to improve both the employee experience and their own ability to execute their mission.

This brings to light the concept of the internal Customer, the civil servant themselves. If government cannot ensure a consistent high work experience for its employees, it is difficult for them to render a positive and consistent good service to the public.

As a civil servant you must look at the service you provide through the customer’s eyes, and this will help you see how to make it better. To truly think, act and plan from a customer viewpoint is highly challenging and thus requires a holistic and ‘eyes open’ approach. This requires putting in place a structured and systemic approach. One of the ways you can do this is by looking at the customer journey. This consists of identifying all ways in which the customers interact with you, and map out the process, tools, systems, and expectations across each stage. You must ask yourself this basic question; how do customers feel when I serve them, and what are their emotions? Then see how to improve these reactions to your service? (Smith. N. 2016)

If the public sector can root itself in the basic principles of customer experience design and research as well as the Six pillars of Personalisation, Integrity, Expectations, Empathy, Time & Effort and Resolution, then the barriers which stand in the way of innovation and service delivery will soon become more manageable and easier to navigate. To do this is to position the public sector once again as truly for the public it aims to serve, thus enabling it to achieve its mission (KPMG, Nunwood n.d.)

The Public Customer Experience in Cameroon may be bad, but something can be done about it. It must start from the top and with every government unit defining its mission, reviewing its processes and developing a strong customer centric culture. This requires an active intervention of State ministers and head of services and corporations. State Corporations must compete with private organizations from the perspective of quality services.

Improved public sector Customer experience would permit to:

–        Improve the Economic climate and boast economic growth.

–        Improve public confidence in the state.

–        Increase patriotism and love for the Nation.

By: Mbinkar Kpunsa Fomunyuy ( Customer Experience Consultant / Master trainer)

References:

D’Emidio. T., Malfara. D. & Neher. K. (2017), Improving the customer experience to achieve government-agency goals. Retrieved from : https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-sector/our-insights/improving-the-customer-experience-to-achieve-government-agency-goals Visited 11/03/18

KPMG, Nunwood (n.d). Customer experience design in the public sector: provoking innovation through service user research. Retrieved from https://www.nunwood.com/excellence-centre/blog/2016/customer-experience-design-in-the-public-sector-provoking-innovation-through-service-user-research/ visited on 11/03/2018

Meyers. M., Roth. H., Niu. E., & Dye. D, (2016), Employees as customers: Reimagining the employee experience in government. Retrieved from: https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/industry/public-sector/treating-employees-as-customers-in-government.html visited on 10/03/2018

Smith. N. (2016), Improving customer experience of public sector services. Retrieved from: https://www.nsandi-gps.com/latest-improving-citizen-experience-public-sector-services/ Visited on 10/03/2018.

The top 10 things customers hate and how to avoid or resolve them.

This article examines the top 10 things customers hate, things that lead to poor customer service. It also gives the solutions that permit an improvement in customer service and user experience.

1.     Not keep the promise

Most often we or our marketing team emit messages and make promises to our customers. This could be through adverts, publicity or public relations. We create brochures or websites and use words that raise the customers expectations about our brand and our product. This is a promise we are making to the customer, which we must keep. When we fail to keep, this leaves the customer very dissatisfied and could lead to high churn and abandon rates. In its article on the power of keeping promises, the American Management Association makes this clear; we should not drive people to a flawed service, as advertising and driving people to your business, without a powerful brand identity—leads to failure.

This is the solution: You should learn to under promise and over deliver. Keep the expectations low and exceed them at every sales contact. Or Master the level of expectations set and meet up to them with a little extra each time.

2.     Long waiting time

Customers hate waiting indefinitely, people are busy and do not come to your company or service to spend all their time. Some service representative just find delight in keeping staff waiting. This creates a very negative impression about our brand and our service.

The solution to this is better queue management. Let the customer know how much time they will have to wait. Distract them during waiting time with maybe a TV to watch, a newspaper or magazine to flip through or a coffee. Notify them of the waiting time. They should know how many people will be served first. This requires skill and friendly nature. Some organisations use an electronic queue management system but the human touch remains very vital.

3.     Treating people as a number or reference

It is common to treat customers as a number, maybe their number on the line, the hospital bed number or the complaint ticket number. This is a grave error and could lead to great dissatisfaction.

The solution is simple. Learn to call people by their names. Each time they come try to remember or retain one thing about them. A person’s name is the  sweetest word in any language. That is why we can hear our names even if we were asleep.

4.     Allowing customers face the same problem every time

The customer may forgive you on a problem they channel to you the first time but will not if they come back for the same problem or face the same challenge a second time. Quite often customers have the same complaint every time. They are received by the same service representatives who will claim every other time to be working on a solution. This kills the brand and destroys the image of the organization.

The solution to this is to escalate any challenges you may not be able to solve, jot down every customer complaint , obtain their contacts and be the one to give them feedback on the evolution of their problems and not them checking on you on how far the problem has been resolved. Note that you must write it down and not rely on your brain. Some organisations manage this through Customer relationship management software. Call the customer often to know if they were satisfied with the solution offered.

5.     Delay in responding to messages and emails

Poor service is not only when the customer is in front of you. As we communicate with them we could already be offering them poor service. It is possible for the customer to know even from your tone of voice, or from your written reply if you are smiling or frowning. Many service representatives just ignore emails and messages and focus on the customer physically present. Others read them, flag them and plan to reply latter, most of them forget totally.

The solution here is replying to all business emails and messages within 24hours. Any reply after 24Hours is a sign of poor service. This does not mean you must provide a solution within 24 hours. This means acknowledge reception of the email and indicate the actions to be taken and how long it will take.

6.     Customer explaining their problem over again to another staff

One of the most challenging things customers face is explaining their problem over and over to different customer representatives or staff of the organization. The customer comes to you and spends 10 minutes explaining his challenge, and you notice you are not the right person to handle, then you simply direct the customer to another person for the customer to explain again. This really hurts!

The solution is taking ownership of the problem, understanding the problem and recapitulating it to the person who can handle. You must walk the customer to the right person and do the introduction yourself. Then do a follow up and ensure that the problem was effectively solved.

7.     Not having a phone number to call.

Many organisations are so difficult to contact, most have no social media or Website that enable ease of access. Most have social media and websites but the telephone numbers lead you to a dead end. It is never reachable or always busy. Customers get irritated when they have to drive long distances for simple information they could get by phone. How many times have you called your company or organisations’ phone line to see for yourself what customers go through?

The solution is an efficient phone management system. We should ensure that we are reachable on phone and quality check regularly to be sure the phone lines go through.

8.     Not putting yourself in the customers place

Many sales representatives and employees just feel the customers are just being too hard, too exigent, so difficult. This is because on a daily basis they receive and handle challenges, this makes them to see challenges as normal and reduces their human side. They stop seeing the customer’s situation as unique. Most people see it as just another task to be tackled. This mindset leads to a look warm nature in the manner in which the customer’s problem is handled.

This can be resolved by understanding that the customer is unique and that it could be us in that situation. How would we handle it if we were the once having that problem. How would we expect it to be handled if it was you or me having that problem. We must put ourselves in the customer’s position, then we will understand the customer’s pain and challenge, and even if we do not offer an immediate solution we will offer a humane and satisfactory way forward.

9.     Being very hard to reach or too busy

Have you ever been to a shop and the sales person is so busy that they cannot give you information, or go to the restaurant and the sales person looks so hardworking and busy that they don’t even notice you have walked in? That is what we are talking about. You felt frustrated, you felt like leaving, you felt like your presence or absence meant nothing. That should not however be the case.

The solution to this is; first and foremost, smile with the customers on first contact even if for the moment you are busy, this smile means you are welcome and I will be with you soon. Next at the least opportunity understand what they need and tell them how long it will take to serve them. You must develop a strong ability to multitask and remain cheerful and professional.

10. Dealing with Inexperienced Staff

A Genesys Global Survey reveals that more than 78% of customers feel the service representative accounts for the customer experience received. Staff who do not master the products they are selling will tend to offer poor service as they may not fully satisfy the customer with their display of product mastery.

The solution consists of being professional and know the technical aspects of the job. This permits the customer to save time and to have the right advice on the purchase. It also permits the organization to make more sales as the sales persons or customer service rep become product or service counselors

These 10 things explain poor service. In our article on why companies continue to have poor service. It is evident that some companies do not even know they have these problems and as such keep hurting the customers.

Here is an image of the article, 10 things customers hate.