The Customer Service Code of Conduct

The Customer Service code of conduct is a guide on core values and expected behavior for Customer service professionals developed by CX TouchPoints Group.

Values

  • Cheerfulness
  • Empathy
  • Responsiveness
  • Respect
  • Honesty

Conduct

  1. Always keep in mind that organisations exist because of customers. Your job exists because of the customer. Before you serve each customer keep in mind that they are the reason you are into business and serve them in a way that fulfils that mission.
  2. Maintain a positive attitude at all times, it is the right recipe for a great day at work.
  3. Always honour the promises made by the organisation to the customers and ensure they get the best deal.
  4. When a customer brings a complaint to you and you discover that is was their fault, still let them leave with dignity, without them feeling embarrassed or disgraced.
  5. Be grateful to customers for raising their complaints. It is a gift they are offering you. Many unsatisfied customers just walk away.
  6. When serving customers, tailor the level of engagement with each customer´s unique needs. Customers cherish personalization of products and services.
  7. Keep a smile at all times.
  8. Greet customers warmly and show them that you are happy to serve them.
  9. Notify your hierarchy quickly of any challenges and complaints you cannot handle and follow up on their resolution. Do not wait till things become out of control.
  10. Always update the customer on the evolution of their request, so as to avoid information gaps that lead to poor service.
  11. Know your customer’s names and learn to use it when interacting with them. This shows they are unique and you know them personally.
  12. Look neat at all times. Your looks are part of your body language and could be sending wrong signals.
  13. Do not discuss non-work related issues with a colleague when serving a customer. Even when it is work-related discussions, be brief and focus on the customer.
  14. Never shout or talk across a customer, move to the person you want to talk to and talk in a calm and low tone. Talking loudly makes you look unprofessional.
  15. Take time to know your products and services. Customers nowadays are very knowledgeable and can verify the facts you present. A display of a lack of product knowledge leads to a poor experience.
  16. Provide the right information to customers. Do not trick them into signing deals or buying products.
  17. Carefully assess your customer’s needs and recommend the best products for them, even if they are not the most profitable for the company.
  18. Never share the customers’ private information without their consent.
  19. Display equal respect for all customers. No customer is more important than another.
  20. Always give customers a listening ear, listening enables you to get the facts of their story and also permits them to explain their needs.
  21. Your first job description is to give every customer at every interaction with you, their best experience ever with your brand.
  22. Your colleagues are not your competitors always share your customer service best practices with them and be open to learning from them.
  23. Never take personal what the customer says or writes when they are frustrated. Remain composed and act professionally at all times. This could be the beginning of their best experience with the brand if handled well.
customer service code of conduct
Customer Service Code of Conduct #34
  1. At the end of every interaction, thank the customer for coming and ask them if they are satisfied with the service received.
  2. Notify your hierarchy of any observations about a customer’s behaviour which could lead to a future bad experience, this proactive way of dealing with problems creates ravings fans.
  3. Do not wait for problems to erupt, solve potential problems as they are developing. This is a demonstration of customer experience heroism.
  4. Do your work well, keeping it simple and easy, this makes your colleague’s work better.
  5. Use positive language at all times when discussing with customers and colleagues, do not criticize or condemn.
  6. Be polite and courteous, this makes you more accessible and makes it easy for customers to approach and trust you.
  7. Take ownership of the complaints customers bring to you. Follow up until they are resolved and notify the customers when a solution has been obtained.
  8. Acknowledge emails and electronic submissions within the same day of reception.
  9. Be time conscious and notify your hierarchy about challenges you have before and not after the deadline.
  10. Above all know that your mission is to be the bridge between the heart of the customer and the heart of the company.
Customer service code of conduct

This is the Customer service code of conduct, a fair representation of what makes great customer service professionals. #CustomerServiceCode

Employee Experience (EX) the new HR Strategy.

Employee Experience (EX) the new HR Strategy.

This article defines the concept of employee experience, identifies the different phases in the employee experience journey, reviews the role of the employee as the ‘consumer of the workplace’, and looks at employee experience in the post-COVID era. The goal is to clarify the concept of employee experience and justify the importance of putting employee experience at the centre of your customer experience strategy.

What is employee experience (EX)?

Employee Experience, commonly denoted as EX, represents all those interactions an employee has with a company from the time the employee sees the job offer to the time this employee walks out of that company. This entails everything an employee sees, feels, learns and does in an organization before, during and after working with them. Employee experience looks internally into what creates satisfied and productive employees.

In a world where monetary motivation is no longer the primary objective of employees, employers need to prove to their employees that they matter to the organization. Talent acquisition and management have become more sensitive and organizations now leverage their people strategy as a key competitive tool. The customer is king. The employee is the queen. Using this metaphor, the employee is the queen who stands by the king. Taking care of the king’s well-being (customer) as well as that of the kingdom (organization). If the employee is not happy or motivated, what kind of service will the king (customer) receive?.

A motivated, happy and skilled employee is more likely to deliver good service, create a delightful customer experience, thus increasing customer loyalty and creating more value for the organization.

John Plaskoff asserts that the role of employee experience is to design working conditions that foster employee care. Employee experience is “the new human resource management approach”. HR should be more employee-oriented because customer satisfaction starts or depend on the kind of service or attitude an employee portrays to a customer. This is the best approach for the modern workplace as it enables the total devotion and empowerment of employees.

The four phases in the EX journey.

An organization should focus more on understanding the employee life cycle. Knowing the stages of the employee lifecycle makes it easy for management to identify how employee needs evolve. One fundamental mistake organizations make in their employee experience efforts, is using a one-cap-fits-all approach. The priorities and concerns of employees are constantly changing. Not being able to capture this change and effectively address the issues that matter most to employees has a major impact on their engagement, productivity and retention.

With insights from over 144,000,000 employee feedback data points obtained from 1000 plus companies in over 160 countries, Peakon identifies 4 phases in employee experience, then goes further to state and explain how employees react at each stage and what management needs to do. These stages include; onboarding, Initial development, Ongoing Development and Separation.

  1. Onboarding; this stage can last from 0 to 3 months, at this point the employee is not yet familiar with the new environment, so management should create conditions for the employee to feel comfortable because this is the most important stage since first impressions last long.
  2. Initial development; here, an employee starts to master their role, the internal processes of the company, develop relationships with other team members, and tries creating an impact in the company. This stage varies from 3 to 9 months. This is a strategic phase to speak with employees about their career goals and outline a growth plan. At this stage, the investment made in building their skills will set them up for future success.
  3. Ongoing development and retention; after about a year or more, the employee must have gained enough experience and knowledge that they become part of the company’s valuable members. At this stage, an employee will like to take on a new challenging task. Management can retain them by offering a new role or more challenging tasks to prevent them from seeking new opportunities elsewhere.
  4. Separation; this stage is inevitable in a company no matter how good their employee experience is. The most important thing here is for the separation to be done in peace so that management will know the real cause of the employee departure and ameliorate.

The employee is the ‘Consumer of the workplace’.

Gallup Inc defines employee experience as a journey an employee takes with an organization. It includes all the interactions the employee has with an organization before, during and after he/she leaves the company. The employee is the “consumer at the workplace” thus the need for increased interest in having a better employee experience.

Today’s employees are not only motivated by a paycheck. They need a more collaborative and supportive work environment. They want to work for an organization that permits them to enjoy their lifestyle. They need more work-life balance and jobs that give them personal wellbeing. Perceiving the employee as the consumer of the workplace entails paying attention to the moments that matter most to them.

Gallup Inc proposes 3 key phases in the development of a comprehensive employee experience strategy.

Aligning the employee experience to the organizations’ purpose, brand and culture. As such the experiences we design should reflect our purpose, brand and culture. Employees must experience what we preach and become an integral part of the culture we seek to build.

Focusing on the 7 key stages of the employee lifecycle. Attract; recruiting top talent (1). Hire; pick the stars (2). Onboard; affirm the decision (3). Engage; build strengths and purposes (4). Perform; drive expectations (5). Develop; coach career growth (6). Depart; positive exit experience (7).

Remembering the employee’s core needs at every stage. The focus here is to understand certain key aspects at the core of the employee’s interaction with the organization. Questions we must answer include: What is the quality of the relationship employees have with their managers? Is their role in the organization clearly defined? What value do they bring to their team? What is the nature of their space and place of work and how does this affect their work? How is their wellbeing affected by this job?

The idea is to develop a comprehensive employee experience strategy that is capable of improving the employee experience and creating more value for the organization. Employee experience entails making sure that the basic psychological needs of employees are consistently met, so that they are physically, emotionally and mentally fit at the place of work. An engaged employee is creative and innovative, which is excellent for the organization.

Post-COVID Employee experience.

A 2020 McKinsey research examines factors that lead to employee engagement, work effectiveness and wellbeing during and after the crisis. It highlights several observations and sheds light on the post-crisis employee experience. A key observation made is that the introduction of remote work has given employees a stronger sense of wellbeing, leaving them more engaged at work than employees in non-flexible and non-remote roles.

This study further proposes practical steps management can take to support and improve employee experience in the post-crisis era. Some of these strategic orientations include:

Being continually present, empathetic, transparent and action-oriented. The actions and care demonstrated by leaders during the crisis must not end now. Management must build on the trust and affiliation earned through their management of the crisis.

Going beyond the basic employee needs of safety and security to building trusting relationships, social cohesion and individual purpose. While safety and security were a major concern during the crisis period, in the post-crisis era, management must commit to meeting the broader needs of employees by focusing on drivers of work experience, effectiveness and wellbeing.

Understanding that just like external customers, employees are unique. Make use of new technologies and data analytics to better segment employees thus fully understanding their needs and providing more personalized experiences.

5 reasons why you should improve your employee experience.

  1. It creates a working climate that promotes performance.
  2. It improves teamwork and collaboration.
  3. It builds a strong organizational culture and a unique corporate identity.
  4. Your employee satisfaction has a direct effect on customer satisfaction.
  5. It permits you to attract and retain the right talent for your organization.

Conclusion

Irrespective of the number of employees in your team or the industry in which you operate,  you must be conscious of your employee experience strategy. It begins with identifying the purpose of your organization, then the people you need to attain this purpose. Next, it is important to identify the role each person has to play as well as the skills they need to play this role. Once this is clearly defined then we proceed to design and deploy the experiences. It is primordial at this phase to identify the drivers of employee wellbeing and performance, then put in place an environment that permits to create value for the employee and value for the firm.

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Authors

Mbinkar Kpunsa Fomunyuy , Nkouekam Elibere Chancellore

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2021 Customer Service Predictions

10 Customer Service Predictions for 2021

If 2020 was to be given a name or a theme, we all will agree that name will be ‘the extraordinary year’. One in which the world experienced a major transformation in its regular way of life. Long-standing traditions were broken, new economic policies were introduced and there was no textbook strategy for how best to handle the global pandemic the world experienced. This shock did not end in the health sector, it changed the way we do business, it changed customer expectations and needs. We can confidently say it created a new reality. We can no longer talk of a return to normal but an adaptation to the new normal. These changes have created new customer service trends. Here are our 10 customer service predictions for 2021.

  1. Increased focus on Quality as a key Satisfaction determinant.
  2. The shift of digital engagement from the web to mobile applications.
  3. Focus on Touchpoints Analysis for optimal allocation of resources.
  4. Increased attention to touchless, self-service and remote service.
  5. Focus on internal customer experience as a tool to shape new corporate cultures.
  6. Decentralisation of the customer service function, with customer service becoming an integral part of every employee’s job description.
  7. Customer service bill of rights becoming more transparent, visible and obligatory.
  8. Shift to inferred feedback collections tools, by harnessing the power of cookies, sentiment analysis and AI.
  9. Multiplicity of customer experience management frameworks with an increased focus on academic customer experience research.
  10. Focus on digital skills as a key customer experience competence for employees.

Let us look at these in detail:

1. Increased focus on Quality as a key Satisfaction determinant.

Quality is an important factor in global competition. With increasing competition and demand by customers for better quality, organizations now realize that it is imperative to provide quality products and services if they must remain competitive in the marketplace. This explains the substantial investments in Total Quality Management Strategies. These strategies permit organisations to deliver products and services that align with customer needs, are better, cheaper, faster and more efficient than those offered by competition, with the participation of everyone in the organisation from top to bottom. (Dilber et al. 2005)

We forecast that in 2021, quality will take a central stage in customer valorisation of products and services. The existing health crisis has reminded people of the need for clean, safe and reliable products and services. This shift in customer expectations is accelerated by technological advancements that have made it easier to compare products and tap into the feedback of other users when making a purchase decision. While warmth in service remains important, quality will supersede warmth.

To remain competitive and customer centric, organisations will need to review their approach to quality. This can be achieved by:

  • Ensuring that each employee is responsible for the quality of the products and services offered to customers and plays an active role in the output obtained.
  • Understanding that quality is determined by customers and as such putting in place the necessary mechanisms to capture and use customer feedback.
  • Putting in place a culture of continuous improvement and empowering employees to find new ways of delivering better quality to customers.
  • Putting in place control mechanisms that measure the attainment of set objectives, identify gaps and quickly resolve them.     

2. The shift of digital engagement from the web to mobile applications.

A recent Gartner study reveals that employee and customer interactions have changed in a significant and permanent manner. It has become more mobile, virtual and distributed. In 2019, Gartner projected that Mobile apps will have the most impact on business success by 2020. A 2020 Statista research reveals that as of the 3rd quarter of 2020 there were over 2,87million apps on Google Play and 1.96 million available apps for iOS.  Though the web browser is still a popular touchpoint, mobile applications are on the rise and provide more personalised interactions with customers.

More and more organisations are rolling in mobile applications to complement their websites. These mobile applications enhance customer relationships, personalises the service offered to each customer, eases collection of feedback, eases customer support and provides more user data. In 2021 we forecast that the shift to mobile will be more visible as organisations seek more personalised avenues to create value for their customers.

3. Focus on Touchpoints Analysis for optimal allocation of resources.

In the early 1980s the president of the Scandinavian Airlines Jan Carlson asserted that ; any time a customer comes into contact with a business, however remote, they have an opportunity to form an impression. This impression he defined as a Moment of Truth. Impressions customers create about an organisation as they come in contact with this organisation at different contact points (Touchpoints).

The concept of customer touchpoints has since then been extensively diagnosed by researchers seeking better ways of improving customer experience. Today, most organisations can identify the different touchpoints in their interactions with customers. However, classifying these touchpoints in order of importance or impact and allocating resources more efficiently is still a puzzle to be resolved.

Aichner & Gruber in a 2017 research on managing customer touchpoints, observe that even though every customer touchpoint plays an important role in customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction, businesses usually have limited human and capital resources and must set strategic priorities and allocate their budget to some activities. This therefore requires a detailed customer touchpoints analysis to help determine the most valuable customer touchpoints and provide valuable insights for these strategic decisions.

We expect that in 2021, there will be more focus on touchpoints analysis. This will lead to the development of new models and management frameworks in this focus area.

4. Increased attention to touchless, self-service and remote service.

The first lesson everyone learned in the advent of COVID-19 was that we must avoid greeting each other through handshakes and keep safe distances. Through the year customers and employees became acquainted with the touchless service. This shifted a lot of technological research to how we can continue serving customers and meeting their needs in a touchless economy.

A good example is the technology giant NEC that developed a solution called Smart Guest check-in solution, that respects industry health and safety standards by enabling a touchless interaction. The solution does not only reduce waiting time but also unnecessary contact between guests and hotel staff.

During the 2020 pandemic Chinese retailers developed a touchless retail system. Creating a new way of serving customers while making virtual all customer service that was previously physical. With touchless retail, products are commanded through smartphones, payments done through smartphones, robotics and automation used in order fulfilment with minimal human intervention and automated drop off or pick up stations created in buildings or communities.

While we see these as measures put in place to cope with the pandemic, these innovations have come to stay and are creating new customer needs and expectations. The post COVID era beginning from 2021 will see a progression in such touchless technologies which will improve and promote self service and remote customer interactions.

5. Focus on internal customer experience as a tool to shape new corporate cultures.

Culture according to the Harvard Business Review expresses the organizations ‘ goals through beliefs and values. It guides the activities performed by the entire team through shared assumptions and group norms. It is anchored in unspoken behaviours, social patterns and mindsets.

Corporate culture creates an attitude alliance.  We can describe it as the attitude of the company. It is what the customer feels as he/she interacts with an organisation. Culture shapes the service attitude, defines how far employees are willing to go to assist customers and situates the value of customers to the members of an organisation.

One way to put in place a customer centric culture is through active involvement of leadership in building great internal customer experiences. Creating an environment where employees feel happy to work, feel supported by management and feel as active stakeholders whose contributions are recognised and whose actions are responsible for the success of the organisation.

In 2021, we foresee a greater involvement of the HR function in creating better employee experiences. Customer service will become a core objective of the HR department, with focus on shaping the corporate culture through improved internal customer experiences.

6. Decentralisation of the customer service function, with customer service becoming an integral part of every employee’s job description.

The customer service department and function like we have known will no longer exist. We project a decentralisation of the customer service function within the organisation in 2021.

  • Customer Service at the heart of operations: Technological advancements have changed the way customers interact with companies, from the processing of customer requests, to production of goods and services, down to order fulfilment and post purchase interactions, there is increased attention on customer experience. With the need for personalisation, speed, and ease of use among others. The ability to meet and exceed customers ‘ needs is at the centre of most business operations today.
  • Customer service at the heart of HR: The responsibility for customer satisfaction is shifting to the HR department. This begins with the selection of culture fit employees, training and internal customer experiences. The ability for employees to continuously deliver winning customer experiences depends largely on their training and personal competence. The ability for the HR department to monitor gaps in employee skills and attitudes directly affects the service they will deliver and impacts the overall customer service culture.
  • Customer service on the board: More and more organisations now realize that the absence of a customer service champion on the board is a major handicap to the organisation. The customer service strategy must be defined at the supreme organ of the organisation and the departmental objectives derived from it. The overall objective of the organisation is to satisfy its stakeholders ‘ needs. To meet stakeholder needs, achieving superior customer experience and satisfaction is the surest way to create sustainable value for the customers and the organisation.

We project that in 2021 there will be a higher decentralisation of the customer service function throughout the organisation. Some organisations will see a complete dissolution of the customer service department and the assignment of customer service objectives to all members of the organisation. Everyone will foremost be a customer service representative then accountant, or marketer, or operations head or CEO.

7. Customer service bill of rights becoming more transparent, visible and obligatory.

customer bill of rights is simply those set of rights you accord to your customers. Those very fundamental things your customers deserve and whose non-respect is discriminating against them or depriving them of what they are rightfully due. While this will vary from one organization to another, there are some basic rights that every organization must accord to the customers such as the right to be listened to, the right to complain if they are not satisfied with the products or services, the right to have their privacy respected and their data protected.

Many organisations already have a clearly established customer service bill of rights published on their corporate websites and in strategic positions in their offices and shops. We are predicting a shift from just wilful development of customer bill of rights to a more obligatory practice. We forecast that more professional bodies will make the publication and respect of these customer service rights obligatory.

The pressure may not only come from professional bodies and state regulators but also from customers themselves, who will tend to associate a firm declaration of customer service rights as proof of the company’s commitment to service quality. The customer service bill of rights, shares the corporate culture and gives the customers points by which they can hold organisations accountable.

8. Shift to inferred feedback collections tools, by harnessing the power of cookies, sentiment analysis and AI.

Today’s customers are pouring out tons of data on how they feel about the products and services they use. Putting in place the right feedback collection tools gives an organisation the possibility to collect useful and actionable data.

There are so many ways to know what customers think about us. To begin with, feedback can be collected in 3 ways. There is direct feedback, which is asking the customers’ directly what they think about the services. There is indirect feedback which is learning what customers think about you through other intermediaries and lastly, there is inferred feedback that involves analysing the customer’s words, comments, and statements and determining their emotional state and feelings about us.

Today, feedback tools use web analytics, cookies, sentiment analysis and artificial intelligence, to dig into the customers’ behaviour and sentiments transforming the results into actionable data. Cookie profiling does not just occur when you are on a particular website but the whole time you are browsing.

We forecast that 2021 will be marked by the blending of cookie profiling with sentimental analysis from social media to create clear actionable data on the state of the customer. Feedback collection will go beyond simple feedback forms, NPS and CSAT scores to a more data driven approach.

9. Multiplicity of customer experience management frameworks with increased focus on academic customer experience research.

Just like Colin Shaw expresses his surprise at the massive wealth of academic data on customer experience that does not get used. The question as to why this research remains untapped by practitioners is still a call for concern.

Academicians are beginning to delve more into customer experience research. Becker & Jaakkola posit that for the past decade, customer experience has enjoyed remarkable attention in both marketing practice and research. The increased academic call for research in customer experience has resulted in a dramatic increase in academic publications and significant advancements in scholarly understanding of customer experience.

Despite this abundance in research and publications and the conviction by business leaders that mastery of customer experience is key to competitiveness, most scholarly research is still unused in organisations. We forecast that there will be a major shift in the way in which the products of scholarly research in customer experience are used in development of new customer experience strategies and technologies.

We expect more corporate leaders to translate the products of academic research into actionable strategies for their firms. Consultancy firms will likely take the lead in this area. We also forecast a simplification of these publications to language that is easier for business by authors and bloggers.

10. Focus on digital skills as a key customer experience competence for employees.

As new technologies continue to evolve, the customer service function keeps changing rapidly. This has been accelerated by the 2020 health pandemic that has imposed the shift to the use of technologies throughout the supply chain. Irrespective of the industry the 2020 global health pandemic sent a strong message on the need to gain more digital skills if an employee must remain competitive in the job market.

We forecast that in 2021 allot of training and development will be geared towards preparing employees for digitalisation efforts and giving them competences to serve the digital customer.

Conclusion

These 10 customer service predictions for 2021 are not an exhaustive list of what we predict will shape customer service in 2021 but the most significant changes we forecast will happen. While their occurrence may be to a lesser or greater extent than forecasted, our team at CX Touchpoints Group continue to watch these trends accompany our partners and clients in their customer experience transformation efforts.

Editor: Mbinkar Kpunsa Fomunyuy

Customer Experience Consultant & Author

Post-Covid-customer-experience

There shall be no return to normal: Focal points for the post-COVID customer experience strategy

Many people think that as soon as this crisis is over, they will rapidly return to life before COVID-19. Unfortunately, life after COVID-19 will not be the same. The COVID period is a harsh transformation period for all organizations. The very foundations on which the existing business strategies were developed have changed. This crisis has marked a sharp change in most business trends. It has changed customer values and expectations, necessitating new customer experience strategies in the post-COVID-19 era.

Drawing inspiration from publications and reports by some of the world’s most authoritative sources, this write up seeks to demonstrate the effect that COVID-19 has had on the economy, and propose a framework for post-COVID customer experience.

The impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

From December 2019 – 16th October 2020 the world has recorded 38,984,808 cases of COVID-19 with 1,099,184 deaths.  4,14% of corona cases have been reported from Africa, 31,1% from Asia, 47.4% from America, 17,1% from Europe (ECDPC, 2020).

COVID-19 has plunged the world economy into the worst recession in eight decades. While it is projected that growth will recover in 2021, the pace of the recovery is still very uncertain and will largely depend on the availability of a vaccine and the rate of improvements in trade and investments. (WBG, 2020). Some of the shocks on the global economy as revealed in an April 2020 world bank study include a 3% drop in unemployment below the base level, an increase of 25% in the cost of imports and exports in international trade, a sharp drop of 20-32% in international tourism, and a drop in household demand for services requiring closer human interactions by 15%.(WBG, 2020).

The global economy’s return to pre-COVID 19 level of activity remains prone to setbacks. The global growth is projected at –4,4% for 2020 and 5,2% for 2021. These trends imply high unemployment rates this year and next year for both emerging and advanced economies. It is projected that social distancing will continue into 2021 though it shall fade over time with improvements in treatment and the use of a vaccine. (IMF, 2020)

A September 2020 McKinsey Global Survey, however, suggests a positive shift in economic sentiment as executives are becoming more hopeful about the global economy and their company performance as things are slowly getting back under control compared to the perceptions at the start of the crises.

Focal points for post-COVID customer experience strategy

Given the amplitude of the disruptions COVID-19 has had on the economy, we really cannot talk of a return to normal anymore. Businesses would have to play by new rules, set new visions and review their current operational models. Some business trends that were forecasted before the crisis has accelerated due to the crisis while others have drastically slowed down. Three strategic post-COVID customer experience focal areas include: digital transformation, employee experience and reengineering customer touchpoints.

Digital Transformation

Accelerated by social distancing and the adoption of remote working, there could be no better time for engaging in digital transformation projects. The crisis has facilitated the acceptance of technologies which were resisted and ignored before. These new technologies have taught us an alternative way of holding meetings, working and learning.

Digital transformation has also greatly affected marketing processes. The lockdowns and social distancing have pushed people to connect more within online communities, changing drastically the ball game for marketing, and placing the digital marketer at the center of marketing efforts. This trend may not change after the crises and could become the new normal.

The increased online presence and shift to digital channels is reshaping e-commerce. This presents a great opportunity for technology companies. The spillover effect is also beneficial to organizations as these increased innovations and supply of digital services are leading to free and low cost access to digital services and technologies.

Many companies used this lockdown to transform their business models completely and now operate 100% virtual companies with employees working from home.

Employee Experience

Employees are increasingly working from home. Traveling and business trips are reducing, and there are major changes happening in the internal customer service environment. The approach to work is changing, the tools used for work are changing, the approach to service delivery is changing, workflows are being altered, the business operational guides are being adjusted, vacation scheduling is being reviewed and the dynamics that exert external influence on employees such as family, social groups and lifestyle are changing.

The employee is undergoing a 360 degree transformation and many will become obsolete due to the rapid and massive nature of the change.  New talent will evolve and new competencies will be needed. Many performance reviews may not happen in 2020, and for those that take place, many would not be based on the objectives that were set at the beginning of the year. This also means new performance trends will emerge.

The COVID global pandemic has made it easy to differentiate companies with great employee experience from those without it. The approach that has been used by the management of companies to sail through this crisis has shown where most companies stand when it comes to customer and employee care. Some companies have shown no care or responsibility for their workers during this pandemic. The effect on employee motivation and performance will show in the 2020 performance.

Employees are becoming more mindful of personal hygiene and expect the workplace to keep them safe. Companies need to put in place structures and equipment that ensure not only the hygiene of the customers but also that of employees.

With increased unemployment, shutdown of schools and other activities, the financial burden on workers has increased. Though they may be paid the same salary, much will be needed to keep them sufficiently motivated as their hierarchy of needs has changed. Employee access to health and safety is more valuable to them now.

Reengineering customer touchpoints

One evident consequence of the corona pandemic is a total disruption of existing customer journeys. A lot has changed about the customer persona: their taste, motivations, social groups, and preferred channels among others.

Companies need new data to create new user and customer personas. Organizations need to re-engineer their customer touchpoints. They must identify what has changed in the way customers interact with them, customer needs and expectations. Organizations need to design and deploy new customer experiences.

Organizations will need to review and identify changes that have happened in their operations and how these changes are affecting customers. They will need to review their customer touchpoints in order to understand which contact points have become pain-points and redefine their strategy. The new journey maps will be subjected to 3 dominant forces. Alignment to the World Health Organization’s recommendations, the organizational changes and the new customer needs.

Conclusion.

Certainly, we will overcome this pandemic but nothing will ever be the same again. The post-COVID economy will be one marked by deep-rooted changes that will affect even the vision and mission of most organizations. Leveraging on technology and customer experience management will be the new playground for competitive advantage. There shall be no return to normal. The new normal begins now.

By MBINKAR Kpunsa Fomunyuy |Author | Customer Experience Expert |

Customer bill of rights

What is the Customer Service Bill of Rights?

Defining you customer service strategy is one thing but communicating that position to the customers is another thing all together. In this article we would understand what a customer’s bill of rights is and how we can develop and publicize one.

What is a bill of rights?

The Oxford languages dictionary defines  Bill of rights as a formal declaration of the legal and civil rights of the citizens of any state, country, federation, etc. This bill of rights or chatter of rights is simply the list of the most important rights to the citizen of a country.

The 10 first amendments of the constitution of the united states of America, or Bill of rights of the united states of America include rights like the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition, rights of accused person, rights of trial by jury in civil cases etc. The point here is to show you the fundamental nature of the rights that make up the bill of rights. The purpose of these rights is to protect the citizens against excessive government infringement.

The customer bill of rights

A customer bill of rights is simply those set of rights you accord to your customers. Those very fundamental things your customers deserve and whose non respect is discriminating against them or depriving them of what they are rightfully due. While this would vary from one organization to another,  there are some basic rights that every organization must accord to the customers such as the right to be listened to. The right to complain if they are not satisfied with the products or services, the right to have their privacy respected and their data protected.

How can I create a customer bill of rights?

Creating a customer bill of rights requires team effort by the organization. The starting point of this process is to access the quality of service you currently offer to the  customers. There are three ways of getting this right ; knowing what the employees think, what the customers think and the getting expert opinion on the health of your customer service. Listen to the voice of the customer through feedback to know what their impressions are.

Once the areas of amelioration have all been identified. The next phase is to decide on the strategy that will be used to solve the problems raised as well as the new attitude which every employee would have to adopt. This consist of making new customer service resolutions. What we want to change. How we hope to change it. Who shall be in charge of each action.

At this point we have a clear pictures of how much our customer service has been hurting or helping our customers. Based on the resolutions made, you can now state your customers’ rights  which we must respect going forward. Setting a bill of rights announces to the customers your dedication to improving their experience and defines clearly the promises you make to them. It has a big impact on shaping the customers’ expectations and serves as a measuring tool for the services delivered.

CX TouchPoints Group

Let our experts create a bill of rights for your organisation.

Publication and examples of our customer service bill of rights.

The job doesn’t end with developing lofty rights for the customer. We need to communicate this to the customer. Make it visible and put it where ever customer can have access to. Make sure your team goes through these rights as often as possible so they do not forget the promise you have made to the customers.

There are many creative ways in which some companies have developed this concept. Though the appellations may change the central idea remains the same. Here are a few examples. The Ritz Carlton hotels and resorts defines 12 service values in their  Gold Standard a set of pronouncements which encompasses their values and philosophy.

The herb’s auto customer bill of rights includes the promise to do free tire rotation with yearly inspection, free copying service, free lifetime emergency towing and more. They  inscribe this nicely and publicly on their website.

Republic west Remodeling Customer’s Bill of rights provides a guide by which customers can set their expectations for any home remodeling project. They present 10 rights which are beautifully published on their website. These include; the right to know before customers agree to any project what the project cost will be upon contract signing, along with a true and accurate understanding of what the project will cost upon its completion.

Another great example is the Neal Tire and auto service bill of rights in which the company commits to be responsive and respectful, to sell only what customer needs, to provide clear explanation of cost before doing any work, to have trained professionals working on the customers’ vehicles, to keep customers updated on the status of their vehicle and to provide clean and comfortable place for the customer to wait.

Customer-bill-of-rights Neal.

Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights / Consumer Bill of Rights

In the United states of America in 2012, the Obama administration enacted the consumer privacy bill of rights in view of improving consumer privacy protection. These include the right to exercise control over what personal data companies collect, the right to easily understand an access information about privacy and security practices, the right to expect that companies will collect use and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent,  consumers  right to responsible handling of their personal data, the right to access and correct personal data, the right to reasonable limits on the personal data that companies collect and retain among others. 

Just like in the above intervention by the Obama administration, in 1952 president John F. Kennedy extolled for 4 basic consumer rights in his speech to congress on March 15th; the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose and the right to be heard. These rights also called the consumer bill of rights were latter expanded to 8 rights by the united nations through its guidelines for consumer protection. These additions included the right to satisfaction of basic needs, the right to redress, the right to consumer education and the right to a healthy environment.

The value of a customer service bill of rights.

As we can see in the above examples. Having a bill of rights is an assurance of the quality that would be delivered. It raises the confidence level of the customers in your ability to deliver great service. It is an indication of the quality of the products and services that would be received. Your customer service bill of rights sets the bar for the kind of service you would deliver and permit to differentiate you from competition.

Mbinkar Kpunsa F.

Author

employee experience

How to improve Employee Experience

Employee experience is neglected and relegated to the background in many organizations. Think of a machine with several parts. For the machine to be fully operational and enable us to have the output we desire, all its parts need to be fully functional. Let us consider the case of a car. The tyres, the engines, the fuel pumps, and all other parts must be in good shape and fully functional for the car to take us around. While our desired output is great products and the delivery of good customer service, the employee is an integral part of the machine that needs to be fully functional for us to achieve this output.

Customer service is divided into two main parts. Internal customer service; which has to do mostly with employees and external customer service which focuses on buyers and users. Though so much emphasis has been put on external customer experience, internal customer experience is as important.

Why the increased concern about employee experience?

The following points explain why there is increased focus on customer experience nowadays:

  • Organizations now realize that ‘people’ are, a resource that needs to be valorized and not cost to be minimized.
  • Talent and people have become an important differentiating factor and a key tool to achieve a long-term competitive advantage.
  • The role of the corporate culture of an organization has never been this evident. Companies now recruit for culture fit, which makes the onboarding of new team members more delicate and priceless.
  • Teamwork and internal harmony are very vital for better collaboration at work and improved productivity.

Employee experience is about creating great working experiences for employees. Enabling employees to have career fulfillment and the needed motivation to get the job done. It is about treating the workers the same way you expect them to treat the customers. Seeing employees as the first customers, whom we need to listen to, give a feeling of importance to, and manage appropriately.

Ways of improving employee experience.

There are many ways of improving the working climate and ensuring that the organization achieves great employee experience. Some of these include:

1. Improving the onboarding experience

Just like our customers, employees also create first impressions about the organization from the way we onboard them. It all starts at the interview. Though you may have dozens of people going through the interviews, one of these people would end up working for you. What impressions do they have at this first contact with the organization? Can they read professionalism and friendliness? Their experience begins here and continues through the selection and recruitment process.

Once the employee is finally recruited, the next stage is to initiate them into the culture of the organization. Every organization needs to have a well-designed onboarding process that permits to create a great impression on the new employee and sets the pace for great working experience with the brand.

2. The employee journey map.

Just like customers have touchpoints (Contact points) with our organization which could become pain points, so too do employees. It is important to evaluate the key activities performed by employees, the ways in which employees have to interact with each other and improve employee journeys. Map out your employee journey and see what areas need your attention. How could you make their job better? In what way can you make them more productive? How can you enable them to enjoy doing the job and getting the desired outcome?

The job design, the organizational structures, the systems, and processes must enable performance, improve employee experience, and customer experience. Constantly review these journeys to minimize errors, and improve learning and efficiency.

3. The organizational behavior or culture

Organizational culture is the group of values, beliefs, expectations, and practices that guide and inform the actions of all members of an organization. Corporate culture is developed through time, organizations need to control these values, shape them, and guide them to the expected behaviors or responses. How do we expect every member of the organization to behave? How do we intend to position ourselves from a behavioral perspective?

This begins with management designing the behavioral positioning they would have to portray to the employees. Then how these employees need to behave towards customers. Management needs to set the pace by creating a culture of trust, support for one another, believe in one’s abilities, recognition of the valuable role each employee plays as a member of the team. This is about designing and implementing great corporate cultures that raise the employees’ confidence levels and motivation to work.

Part of this cultural experience could be communication styles. Does everyone have a voice? Do we listen to our employees? How do we manage their complaints and challenges? Clearly define these focal points in the design of the culture guide.

4. Motivation

At the end of the day, the employee is simply doing a job to earn a remuneration. This remuneration could be in monetary or non-monetary terms. Irrespective of the remuneration models used, the goal must be to keep the employee motivated to work. Employee motivation could take several forms. Learn what drives your workers. While some people are driven by financial gains others are driven by things like; family, recognition, social integration, belonging among others. Learn to appreciate colleagues for the things they do. Do not be the person who complains and criticizes all the times. Keep communication open and hassle-free with team members and respect your contractual agreements.

5. Team building

It is important to organize team-building sessions to remind everyone they are part of a team. To show them the important role they play as a team. To help team members know each other and experience their colleagues out of the work environment. These team-building sessions could range from corporate retreats, outdoor games, outings, and participating in team member’s important events. Teambuilding creates a good social bond and gives employees a second family. We spend more time with our colleagues at work than with our families and loved ones. Giving employees the possibilities to know, learn to trust one another, reduces tensions at work, improves performance, and overall employee experience.

While this is not an exhaustive list of strategies for improving employee experience or better still internal customer experience, these points constitute a good starting point. You cannot replicate people. Creating a strong team, that is motivated and guided by a well designed corporate culture is the ultimate step towards improved employee experience.

voice of the customer

Voice of the customer: collecting customer feedback.

Author: Mbinkar, Kpunsa Fomunyuy.

This article on the voice of the customer aims at defining what this term means, identifying was of collecting customer feedback and demonstrating a practical approach that can be used by organizations of any size to manage their voice of customer programs.

The products and services we produce are destined for use by the customer. One key function of the marketing manager is to identify customer needs and to ensure the products and services produced can meet these needs, then figure out how to communicate this value to the customers. This is important because when the products and services meet the customers’ expectations, they would be more likely to purchase and less likely to use competitive products. The only way to know if we were are able to achieve this objective is by gathering feedback from the customer. This is what we call listening to the voice of the customer.

Every organization needs to put in place a mechanism to capture the customer’s voice at the different contact points with the organization. Feedback collection is an ongoing process that involves everyone at every time. Sometimes the customers’ remarks may not be of any value to one person or department but if we were to put all these remarks together we would begin to see patterns.

Feedback collection is an ongoing process that involves everyone at every time.

Mbinkar Kpunsa Fomunyuy

Every feedback given by the customer needs to be recorded and shared with a central organ in charge of reviewing it. The work does not however end here, it is important to summarize these opinions and see how they can serve in improving the overall customer experience or the ability of the products to meet customer needs or specifications.  

A good starting point in strategic feedback management would be to answer the following questions:

  • What do our customers think about us?
  • How can we make the service better?
  • Do we use feedback collected to improve processes and systems?
  • What can we do better?

What do our customers think about us?

There are so many ways to know what customers think about us. To begin with, feedback can be collected in 3 ways. There is direct feedback, which is asking the customers’ directly what they think about the services. There is indirect feedback which is learning what customers think about you through other intermediaries and lastly, there is inferred feedback that involves analyzing the customer’s words, comments, and statements and determining their emotional state and feelings about us.

From simple methods such as handing customers a feedback form, to verbal questions on how they feel about the service or following their comments on our forums or social media, every organization needs to figure out what the best method of collecting feedback from their customers can be. This method would depend on the type of services offered and the manner in which customers come in contact with your organization.

You and your team should be able to sit together and answer this question. How do we know what the customers think about us? Takedown the points raised and adopt your own customer service feedback strategy. Appoint someone who would be in charge of reviewing all feedback collected if such a person does not exist. Have weekly reports on the feedback from customers with empahsis on what has been done in each case. Contact customers to thank them for their feedback, notifying them of corrective actions that you are putting in place when negative feedback is given.

How can you make service better?

The purpose of collecting feedback is not just to know what the customer thinks about us, but for us to use this information to improve processes and tailor the products and services to customers’ needs. To make something better you must first know the state at which it is. Begin with internal feedback from internal customers (the employees, the suppliers) then go to the external feedback from users and buyers. Identify what customers feel you are not doing right and develop a strategy for improvement.

Do we use feedback collected (voice of the customer) to improve processes and systems?

When we learn to listen to the voice of the customer we would identify loopholes in our processes and systems. We would see that sometime the problem is the approach we are using. Sometimes we have great products but the wrong approach. Are our processes and systems designed to improve the experience customers have with us or to satisfy our work organization?

Can we honestly say that the step by step approach we use to serve customers is customer-centric? Do these processes make it tedious for customers to get our products and services? Do our processes make it tedious for customers to react and interact with us? For once, become the customer and walk through the process yourself, feel what they feel, then decide if that is what you want as a customer. Whatever feelings you would have, the customers’ feelings are definitely worst.

What can we do better?

At the end of the day, it is all about improving. Doing better. Offering a better experience to the customers. I would say here that you cannot get what you do not measure. Set clear objectives on why you need to listen to the voice of the customer. How you intend to do so. What you would do with the information obtained. Who would be in charge? How often would the team review the feedback collected and make a commitment to reach out to customers as well as take into consideration their voice while considering improvements to be made.

10 things every customer-centric organization must do as COVID-19 spreads

By: Mbinkar Kpunsa Fomunuyuy

The CDC describes Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. As the virus continues to spread outside China, it has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization. Many countries have thus taken preventive and curative measures to handle this global pandemic. The US has issued travel ban from Europe, India and Kuwait have suspended visas to all foreigners, Italy is locked down with permission needed to travel within the country, over 39 countries have already announced or implemented school or university closures and this affects business activities of thousands of companies in one way or the other. What therefore should be the response from a customer-centric organization?

  1. Show solidarity with the victims
  2. Join the health organizations in doing sensitization about the pandemic.
  3. Tell your customers how this can affect your company’s activities.
  4. Tell customers the preventive measures you will be taking.
  5. Put in place measures to protect your employees.
  6. Consider remote working options
  7. Divert your corporate social responsibilities efforts to fight the spread of the disease.
  8. Be careful with meetings and travel
  9. Disinfect your business venues & and respect health standards.
  10. Review your business procedures and adapt them to the crisis period

Let us look at these in greater detail:

  1. Show solidarity with the victims: This is the time to shift those marketing messages to messages of care and solidarity to the thousands of patients in this difficult moment. A customer-centric organization is one that truly understands their customer’s needs, their greatest preoccupations and their fears. One that stands with them in difficult moments. This creates an emotional connection with your brand.

A good example of such solidarity can be seen by LUSH offering free handwashing facilities to the public

A sign in the window of a Lush store in Liverpool offering a free hand wash service, source Bristol Post
A sign in the window of a Lush store in Liverpool offering a free hand wash service, source Bristol Post
  • Join in the sensitization about the pandemic: To reduce the spread of this pandemic a key factor is to reach everyone with the most useful information on how to remain safe. Use your media outlets and contact points to sensitize your customers on how to remain safe.
UBA Bank Sensitization flyer on symptoms of coronavirus
UBA Bank Sensitization flyer on symptoms of coronavirus    
BatStateU Integrated School student councils’ twitter sensitization on 7 preventive measures against COVID19
BatStateU Integrated School student councils’ twitter sensitization on 7 preventive measures against COVID19
  • Tell your customers how this can affect your company’s activities: You should not assume that everyone knows there is a problem and that they will understand if there are delays or cancellations. Set a task force to identify how this pandemic affects your industry as a whole and your organization in particular. Communicate to your customers how this can affect your activities and what measures you would be putting in place to overcome these challenges. Do not use the pandemic as a justification for poor service.
ShakeTastic’s notice to customers on the efforts they are making to contain the corona virus outbreak
ShakeTastic’s notice to customers on the efforts they are making to contain the corona virus outbreak
  • Tell the customers the preventive measures you will be taking: as already mentioned, identify what preventive measures you will be taking at each contact point with the organization to keep your customers safe, as well as up-to-date actions you are putting in place. This helps to calibrate their expectations and maintains their confidence in your business. It reassures your customers and avoids unnecessary panics that could shift the existing problem to other sectors.
Everyman Espresso notifies customers on hygienic actions to fight corona virus
Everyman Espresso notifies customers on hygienic actions to fight corona virus
  • Put in place measures to protect your employees:  Your internal customers’ health is also a major concern. Reducing their exposure to risk without compromising the delivery of services is very important. Evaluate the risk your team is exposed to and define strategies to mitigate these risks. Clearly communicate these risk areas and how you expect the team to respond to it. You must do this even if your organization is not in an affected zone, this preventive measure is fundamental in building rapport with your team and improving internal customer experience.
Notice on no handshake zone, to protect employees at Los Angeles International Airport.
Notice on no handshake zone, to protect employees at Los Angeles International Airport.
Source US Today / Frederic J. Brown
  • Consider remote working options: Do a business management assessment of what can be done in the office and what can possibly be done from home. Give your team members in affected zones the possibility to work from home, the possibility to stay away from work if they fall sick. This should be a priority in high-risk zones and a factor to be considered in low-risk zones as it is not clear where the virus will be next.
Hypernode takes on remote working as a COVID 19 protection measure
Hypernode takes on remote working as a COVID 19 protection measure
  • Divert your corporate social responsibilities efforts to fight the spread of the disease: Thousands of health workers risk their lives every day, millions of people could be safer if they had certain facilities in place. Research laboratories need funding as they all put hands on deck to find a cure and a vaccine. This could be a great area to divert your company’s corporate social responsibility.
Comment from Facebook health department on measures Facebook is taking to fight the COVID 19 virus.
Comment from Facebook health department on measures Facebook is taking to fight the COVID 19 virus.  Source Facebook
Mark Zukerberg on solidarity response fundraiser for WHO  to fight the COVID 19 virus.
Mark Zukerberg on solidarity response fundraiser for WHO  to fight the COVID 19 virus.  Source Facebook
  • Be careful with meetings and travel. Truly review your work models and see which meetings can go virtual, which movements could be postponed, which events could be postponed. Reduce the risk of exposure of your team and your customers by reducing meetings and travel as much as possible depending on the risk level of the zone in which you are located.
Oxford United FC postpones matches for COVID-19 health concerns
Oxford United FC postpones matches for COVID-19 health concerns
  • Disinfect your business venues & demonstrate the standards: get help from health practitioners on the right chemicals and cleaning materials to keep your surfaces and offices clean and protected as much as possible. There is a need for awareness on how to manage public areas and how to orientate customers to avoid contact with risky surfaces.
Delta airlines expand their cleaning processes to include a fogging procedure that disinfects surface areas that are often touched in the aircraft.
Delta airlines expand their cleaning processes to include a fogging procedure that disinfects surface areas that are often touched in the aircraft.  Source Delta Airlines
  1. Review your business procedures and adapt them to the crisis period: one key factor about customer centricity is to constantly remodel your business to focus on improved customer experience. What temporal measure do you need to take to keep your team and customers safe? What procedures do you need to modify to make the workplace safer?
Red River co-op food store notifies customers on new rationing policies due to COVID19
Red River co-op food store notifies customers on new rationing policies due to COVID19
Verizon waives late fee for customers and small businesses disrupted by COVID 19
Verizon waives late fee for customers and small businesses disrupted by COVID 19

All businesses exist to serve customers, today the world is fighting the COVID-19, and this is not some strange virus that only affects others. It affects you and it affects your customers. These guidelines will help you approach the virus more professionally and maintain the best customer service standards.

Guide to customer expectations

Guide to Customer Expectations

Customer expectations are the desires or anticipations customers have about a brand when interacting with it. It is the anticipated outcome of the interaction. The secret of providing great service lies in the ability to understand and respond to customer expectations. When we do not know our customers, we fail to meet up to their expectations. In this article, you will understand customers’ expectations and what shapes their attitudes. To begin with, let us look at the dimensions of customer engagements.

5 Dimensions of customer Expectations

A Texas A&M University study categorizes customer expectations into five dimensions: reliability, tangibles, responsiveness, assurance and empathy.

  • Reliability: Customers expect you to perform the promised service accurately and dependably. They want to see you do what you say you do. They expect the product will perform as you have said it performs.
  • Tangibles: Customers want inviting and good looking physical facilities, equipment, personnel, and communication materials.
  • Responsiveness: your firms’ willingness to be of assistance to the customer and provide prompt service.
  • Assurance: Your employees’ ability to convey trust and confidence and their knowledge about the products or services.
  • Empathy: The individualized attention provided to them and demonstrations that you feel for them.

We can thus observe that customers have very basic expectations. It is not about the magic investments it is about the magic moments the customers spend with your brand. With the advent of the internet and growth in technologies, customer expectations are also evolving.

4 New customer Expectations

A Salesforce research on understanding customer expectations reveals that, todays customers expect:

  • Connected Journeys: Customers are expecting more connected journeys. Making it necessary for companies to eliminate bottleneck processes and breakdown silos.
  • Personalization: Customers expect more personalization of products and services to meet their very specific needs.
  • Innovation: Customers want to deal with innovative companies, expect product development, and appreciate those embracing new technologies.
  • Data protection: Customers expect their data to be protected and their privacy assured.
4 New Customer Expectations

These new trends which are typical of the digital age in which we live, permit to significantly improve online user experience. It will be necessary to know if customer expectations are absolute or variable. To better explain this concept let us look at the zone of tolerance.

Zone of Tolerance in customer Expectations

The zone of tolerance represents the range of service performance that a customer considers satisfactory. It is important to recognize your ability to manage your customers’ tolerance, and therefore satisfaction and dissatisfaction, through transactions. The zone of tolerance is the difference between customers’ expectations regarding their desired service and the minimum level of acceptable service.

The acceptable service can be considered as the lower level of what they expect to receive and the desired service is the higher level of their expectation. The target of the organization should be to deliver a level of service superior to the zone of tolerance.

When the organization exceeds the zone of tolerance, they are offering a service beyond the customers’ expectations and this creates a “wow” effect. It is therefore important for the organization to do an audit of the things they must do to have the minimum level of acceptable service. To achieve this it will be good to look at the factors that shape these expectations so as know how to manage them.

The 7 major factors that shape customer Expectations

Some of the major factors that shape the customers’ expectations are the corporate promise, the price, the marketing, the customer’s mood/attitude, alternatives, Comments from others, and education. 

The Corporate promise

Looking at adverts today, we realize that, instead of showing the characteristics of the product, marketers try to patronize the customers, build a passion for the product and apply to the cognitive faculties of customers. These adverts, corporate logos, slogans, utterances of CEOs, create a certain expectation in customers.

When an event planner says ‘your one-stop wedding shop’ the buyer entering this shop expects to find everything linked to the wedding.  Customers tend to judge the organizations from the promise the enterprise has made.

Customers measure the services in function of what the enterprise has promised. Most customers are unsatisfied because they feel the enterprise has not kept the promise. Corporate staff who promise to resolve a problem within one week should do so, and in case of inability, call the customer to report the status of the problem.

The publicity made by the enterprise, slogans on its magazine and websites should be tailored to the internal processes. All workers must know the promises the enterprise has made because it is binding on them and would constitute the measuring rod for the services offered.

The corporate promise must be internalized into the culture of the organization. The first consumer of the adverts of the firm should be its internal customers. They must be aware of the promises being made and their role in delivering this promise.

The price charged

Price is a key element of the marketing mix. Price can be determined in several ways. One of the common methods consists of determining the psychological price. This is the price the greater number of buyers are willing to pay.  Some other organizations would set the price either based on the profit they want to make or the cost of the goods they need to cover.

The higher the price the higher the expectations the customer would have about the quality of the product or service. However low prices are not considered to be a guarantee of poor service. A high fee charged by a lawyer, doctor, or consultant for consultations determines the degree of attention the customer would be expecting to receive.

Customers pay the price; so they expect an equivalent or higher service to what they are paying. The price should therefore be more than or proportionate to the service offered. Customers would expect an increase in quality for every extra fee charged.

Comments and recommendations and reviews

Today customers read the reviews before they buy. People’s reviews will tell you about their experience and this shapes your expectations.

When someone else talks about you the effect is different.  More people would believe if your story is told by another person. Comments, word of mouth, reviews and recommendations play a very strong role.

One way organizations could encourage customers to talk about how their experiences have been or recommend them is by promoting word of mouth. Word of mouth is very strong and gives the customer a first impression of the products or services.

While positive reviews are an indication of good experience, it is also professional to leave the negative reviews, correct them, and comment on the organization’s corrective measures undertaken. This is another way to build trust.

Alternatives

How do customers perceive our products, among other products? Do they compare us with others?  Most customers have seen, appreciated, or consumed similar products elsewhere. They thus tend to compare the service between organizations. Sometimes much effort is put to satisfy customers, but because these same customers have had better experiences elsewhere they tend not to appreciate the service received.

It is important to know the customer in order to better manage their expectations. Some customers may even know the product better than you, making it very difficult to impress them with a good presentation.

To better manage this, organizations must always perform a competitive analysis of their products and share with their teams how the organization’s products stand out from the rest.  Knowing the competition permits you to know where you have a competitive advantage, and thus have an idea of the customers’ expectations about your brand.

Customer’s mood

The customer as already mentioned is a social being whose character changes and whose mood is not the same all the time.  We should not conclude that the customer will be calm and comprehensive just because they were nice the last time. You must be able to read the customer’s mood each time. It is recommended to always start the interaction with a mood breaker. A mood breaker could be a joke, a small story, a comment, or a compliment.

We must learn how to give an appropriate compliment without necessarily flattering the customer. Customers love being appreciated and valorized and this when done can improve their mode.

The customer’s mood has a direct effect on their purchase behavior and subsequently their satisfaction. Happy customers have a higher probability to purchase. They make the purchase decision faster. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences), rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).

Level of education

Intellectuals tend to be more confident and feel too much detail is boring. Whereas persons of low educational levels tend to question more and require more information before making a choice. You should understand that people have different temperaments and IQs. Do not show off your knowledge or have a low impression of others. People would get very offended when you make them look inferior.

Conclusion

The customer always has an expectation. At every interaction with the customer, make sure the customer leaves impressed. Every interaction is an opportunity to sell both the products of the organization and its image. When you know the customers’ expectations, you are able to deliver superior services. When you cannot determine the expectations still deliver a great service that would at least exceed their acceptable service levels.

Now that you know what customers expect, the level of the expectations, and factors that affect the customers’ expectations it will be important to develop a strategy to manage your customers’ expectations. What we will suggest is:

  • Deliver what you promise.
  • Make your interaction environment inviting.
  • Be ready to assist at all times.
  • Know your products.
  • Remember at all times they are humans with feelings.
  • Create Omnichannel experiences.
  • Show what is in it for them.
  • Make it better every time.
  • Protect their data.
  • Know that for every penny you charge they expect something extra.
  • Know that they value the reviews they read about you.
  • Be sure you know what competition does for they know.
  • They could just have had a bad day, be nice!

The video below from Marketing 360 gives more insights on why we should manage customer expectations.

What is Customer Service?

In this article we will discuss what customer service is all about. This guide brings out the importance of customer service and its central role in every organisation. It also permits us to understand who the customer is and what role customer satisfaction plays in the success of the organisation.

Importance of customer service.


“What if customer Service was a basic human right?” Patricia Pedhom Nono

Organizations are created to serve customers. The customer is the very essence of every profession. Be it a business unit, non-governmental organization or governmental organization. The customer is the center of every profession. You may be from the medical, legal, political or religious core, we all serve customers.

We may not have the same type of customers. Your customers could be children, they could be citizens, patients, followers, or your students. We all have customers and we all serve customers. You can therefore perceive the customer as the beneficiary of your activity.

So Customer service is a way of life, and everyone around us is a customer. Some customers could already be benefiting from our services and others yet to. We are all in the business of serving customers and must serve both the existing and potential customers well.,

Customer service is therefore central to every organization and the mastery of this very important aspect of organizational life is important for organizational success.

Let us look at the definition of customer service, what motivates customers, why they behave the way they do and how we could be able to satisfy their needs with simple actions.

Business dictionary defines customer service as “All interactions between a customer and a product provider at the time of sale, and thereafter. Customer service adds value to a product and builds enduring relationship.”

This definition brings out three main things about customer service.

“All interactions”, “adds Value”, “Relationship”.

The error most people do is to think that customer service is about a single interaction. It is wrong to think that customer service happens only when the customer is buying from us.

The words “All interactions”, means even when the potential customer visits, buys or passes around our premises. The nature of the interaction will either add value to the organization or reduce it. The role of good customer service is to add value to the organization by creating value for the customers. The third point states, it is a “Relationship”. This brings to light the emotional connect that must exist in customer service. Going beyond a mere contact to build sustainable relationships.

Customer service entails being able to anticipate and satisfy the needs of existing and potential customers in a consistent and dependable manner. Good service entails a conscious act and must be consistent. This explains why staff may need to undergo training in customer service to be able to have a consistent high level of service throughout the system.

You must be wondering, if customer service is this important why is it not a rule. Now you see the point. “What if customer service was just a basic human right”? Certainly some organization’s which we will call customer centric organizations have understood this lesson.

A company, must not only have eyes on profits but also on how best to serve its customers. Profits and market share are the products of listening to customers and acting upon their needs. 

Customer centric companies recognize staff members who balance job efficiency with customer satisfaction. Their managers focus on supporting their staff in doing their jobs well. This permits staff to focus their attention on taking care of customer needs. Such companies exhibit a participative management style where staff have opportunities to offer feedback on key customer issues before decisions are made.

So you can now see that customer service is the bridge between the customer and the brand or the organization. The customer is therefore one of the pillars of the sales act.

Service a core pillar in the 3ps of the sales act

3Ps of the sales Act

To sell a product, three basic conditions are necessary; the first is that we must have an element or something which we are selling; (i.e. the product or the service).  Secondly we must have the medium through which we will sell the product or service (i.e. the place or venue), and lastly we must have the buyer who needs the product or service and would like to acquire it.

Without a buyer to acquire the product the good remains with us. So selling is only made complete with the buyer acquiring the product.  The physical or immaterial transfer of the product materializes the sales act and provides a framework for customer service.

Till date, allot of focus has been put on the product and the place and very little attention has been given to the buyer. It is sad that the most important element of a sales act is the most ignored. Let us have a deep look at the distinction between the product, the place and the person (which we call here the 3ps of the sales act).

Product and place are inanimate whereas the person is animate. Meaning once the product and place have been decided on, we could easily forecast the impact these two will have on the sales act. E.g. lighting effects and music during sales promotions would attract allot of attention. A very beautiful car will attract attention, a well painted and decorated office would be attractive to customers as such the product and service once configured permits to obtain almost certainly a particular output.  This is not the case with human beings or persons.

People at times react differently from what we expect. This is a good reason why you need to understand who your customers is and determine their reactions to situations. The key question here is, how do we keep customers satisfied?

 Customers represent both an input and an output to the enterprise. This explains why a satisfied customer always returns and always speaks positively of the enterprise thus attracting more customers. Quality management puts a lot of emphasis on transforming customers into assets for the enterprise.

Once the customer visits a sales point he or she leaves that sales point with a feeling. This feeling could pull them back or push them away. This feeling is what we call a perception. The enterprise should be able to determine the feelings of their customers and harness them into actionable insights. Johnson and Clark (2001) state that customer satisfaction levels vary between two extremes; delighted and dissatisfied.


When you serve a customer well, they leave satisfied. The bad news is; this satisfied customer could seek the same service elsewhere either to compare what others have to offer or simply because they expected good service from you in the first place. Delighted customers on the other hand will often come back, while a dissatisfied customer most often go away.


After having a positive experience with a company, 77% of customers would recommend it to a friend. Temkin Group


The key point here is; it’s not enough to serve the customer well but to give the customer a reason to always come back. To achieve this all we need is go the extra mile. Offer the extra service, offer beyond the normal without necessarily increasing the price. The service should be more than proportionate to the price paid.

Transformed customers constitute a human resource to be valorized by the enterprise. We could do a distinction here between internal human resource (workers) and internalized human resource (transformed customers). Just like workers emotions and psychophysiology is studied, measured and nurtured, so too should customer feelings and expectations. We must study the psychophysiology of the satisfied customer. The enterprise must be able to put in place a customer satisfaction management system. How we relate with the customer shows our customer intimacy.

Customer intimacy

Customer satisfaction management requires a blend of psychology, sociology, philosophy and quality management techniques. Customer satisfaction is as important as financial management within the organization and must be given the required attention and resources. Increasing customer value through customer intimacy can permit revenue growth.

Increasing customer value, through customer intimacy can permit revenue growth.  Looking at the value creation map presented by Bernard Marr et Al. of the Grandfield School of management you will observe that intangibles drive up the value of tangibles. Customer satisfaction constitutes one of the greatest intangibles of an organization.

Customer satisfaction as an intangible asset

Strategically, intangible assets constitute a great competitive advantage. Identifying the opportunities present to an enterprise would be of no use, if the enterprise cannot be able to use its knowhow to discern and create value out of its intangibles. It’s worth noting that customer satisfaction as an intangible asset is not easy to measure but if well-conceived and valorized, it could be measured by the spillover effects it has on performance.

It takes just the right attitude to transform customers. The fact that the customer moves to your sales point either by curiosity or conviction doesn’t make that person an intangible asset for you. Building a strong professional relation on the foundation of satisfaction is what creates the asset.

Customer satisfaction as a key performance indicator

Customer satisfaction is a key performance indicator due to the fact that, when the customers are satisfied then the future of the business is guaranteed, then liquidities would come in, then the enterprise would have a good image, which further reinforces the customer perception.

For a customer to be satisfied we must understand his needs. Once these needs are satisfied, the customer becomes satisfied and when we go beyond satisfying his needs the customer is delighted. What therefore are customer needs? How do we discern them? How do we satisfy them?

Customer Needs

Maslow’s hierachy of needs

The American Psychologist Abraham Maslow demonstrates that man has seven innate needs. Let us focus on the first two which he termed higher order needs:

  • The need for freedom of inquiry and expression;
  • The need for knowledge and understanding;

How does the understanding of this model help us build a better relationship with customers?

To answer this question we would further borrow from the techniques of effective communication. To communicate well we must master four things:

  • Listen well
  • Speak well
  • Write well
  • Read well

Focusing on the first which is listening, we could link it to Maslow’s first need ‘freedom of inquiry and expression’. We must allow customers freely express themselves, without cutting in or assuming we know what they are about to say. Listening to a customer with attention permits him or her to satisfy this need for expression and inquiry.

Secondly we must be flexible enough to speak well, or write well. These three aspects permit to enhance understanding. A customer who is well served but whose doubts have not been clarified most certainly would not be satisfied. Our writing to customers must be visible and we must adapt our tone and choice of words to permit the customer understand us well. Good communication alone is a strong factor of satisfaction 

Customers therefore have very basic needs:

Customer’s needs
  • The need to be understood
  • The desire to feel important
  • The feeling that they are welcome
  • The need to be listened to

These needs are basic, they are simple but require skill. When you carry out these simple actions that aim at satisfying the customer it is important to obtain some feedback to know if you achieved your goal.

Customer Satisfaction feedback

Customer satisfaction is both an input and an output to the enterprise. Looking at it from the marketing perspective the role of marketing is to anticipate and supply customer requirements efficiently and profitably. Which means enterprises should understand that what they sell is not products but a promise of satisfaction.

The core task of marketing is determining customer needs and ensuring that these needs are met. Sales are only complete when we obtain feedback on the services offered. Customer satisfaction thus needs to be measured and analyzed so as to determine the internal processes that permit to obtain the financial output.

With the multiplication of products and services everywhere, you cannot afford to send customers away unsatisfied. This does not mean unsatisfied customers would not exist, they would, and this is why you must learn how to deal with difficult customers and transforming them into advocates

Customer Satisfaction goes beyond the product

When you watch adverts today, you notice that most often, nothing is said about the product itself, focus is on a storyline, a catchy event. Why are companies all turning green, promoting environmental protection, ethics and social values? To understand this let us look at two theories. First, the pyramid of needs of Abraham Maslow.


The lesson to be brought forth here is that, instead of focusing so much efforts on products, focus should be on the needs that the products satisfy. According to Maslow until inferior level needs are satisfied the person does not move to higher level needs. So it is not the product we should focus on, but the link between the product and the needs of the people. Showing how their needs would be met through the consumption of the product.

This explains why in most adverts, little attention is given to the technical attributes of the product, and focus is on captivating the buyers attention and stimulating their emotions. Of course as a buyer you would only be interested in a service or product you think will satisfy your needs.

The sales person should be able to identify the dominant needs of each customer and thus act as a bridge between the product and the heart of the customer. Let us take a simple case of the banking sector. The banker could tell a student how savings enables to meet us with their feeding that shelter needs. Tell a newly employed how savings gives him security and freedom, tell business man how savings would enable him build his asset base, and tell a retiring millionaire how choosing his institution guarantees a future for his children. The idea is assuring satisfaction, by demonstrating what is in it for the customer.

The second theory is that which focuses on the different product levels. Each product has 3 levels:

  • The functional level
  • The symbolic level
  • The material level

The material aspect of the product is what we see, feel and touch. Its color, its size, its beauty. The functional level of the product is what it does or its use, while the symbolic is the perception of the customer as to what he or she is consuming and how others will perceive them as they consumes the product.

Taking time to demonstrate the symbolic elements of the product or service permits to enhance customer satisfaction. Many people would buy a product just for the perception others have of them consuming it or the feeling they have consuming it. So give to the customers what they need. Be it affection, security, recognition, fulfillment; these needs once satisfied transforms them into delighted customers.

Because of this importance attached to the concept of customer service several experts have developed theories on how to improve the overall customer experience (considered to be more holistic concept), measuring the level of satisfaction and integrating this into the strategic objectives of the organization.  Software developers today are able to gather data on the customers and use this to develop insights and speculations about their behavior. Today the concept goes beyond just service and encloses the entire customer Journey.

It is important to see the customer as a stakeholder in the organization. The customer is not just a stakeholder but a major stakeholder and they are the reason for which the organization exist. It is difficult to separate customer service from sales. As we are always selling either a service, a product or a perception to customers.

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