There is no doubt that creating better employee and customer experiences translates into revenue. There are many factors that play into the customer experiences, including customer service (that’s a big one), packaging, marketing and sales messages, in-store lighting and music, the online experience, your employee experiences and more.
How do you know if you are providing the best possible employee and customer experiences?
Every week I stay at different hotels around the world as I travel for my speaking engagements. And, every morning I get up in these hotels and take a shower. I reach in to turn the knob for the water, which is usually a few feet below the shower head. I turn the knob to what I hope is the correct water temperature and pull my arm out just as fast as I can – to avoid the cold water that is about to shoot out of the nozzle and hit my arm or other parts of my body.
Okay, that doesn’t seem like a big deal – and it’s not. That is, until you experience something better.
On one of those mornings, many years ago, I noticed that the housekeeper had turned the shower head toward the wall so that the guest – that’s me – wouldn’t have to experience the cold water that first came spraying out of the shower. Such a small thing, but a thoughtful and much appreciated gesture.
Small, but what a brilliant customer focused idea. And, it may seem like a little thing, but it makes a difference. Since that time, every time I turn on the shower I look to see if the shower head is aimed at my arm below or at the wall. If it’s aimed straight down, I’ll turn it away.
Now, how many times do you think I’ve had to turn it away? You probably guessed, almost every time.
This simple act of turning the shower head toward the wall so the guest won’t get sprayed with cold water would take the housekeeping staff two seconds. That’s it!
There are some hotels that have figured this out. One morning I reached in to turn on the shower and didn’t see the knob. Where could it be? On the opposite wall! The wall that didn’t have a shower head looming above it, waiting to spray me with cold water. I smiled and took my time turning on the water.
That was just a little improvement. A nuance of a positive change. Very, very minor, but it made me think, “Why can’t this be the norm? Why is almost every shower, in almost every hotel I’ve stay in, not designed this way?” This is a rhetorical question. I don’t need an answer.
With today’s acute focus on the customer experiences, the best companies are paying very close attention as they design the best customer experiences. They look for ways to improve the experience or avoid a mistake. Something as simple as putting the knob on the opposite wall of the shower head, or at least turning the shower head toward the wall, is an example of a minor improvement that may go unnoticed, until it later is.
So, what’s your organization’s version of the shower head? Where can you make a minor change that improves the customer’s experience, if even just a tiny bit? Talk about it with your colleagues. Brainstorm it. And, then make it happen. Here’s to a better, even just a tiny bit better, best customer experiences! says Hyken.
Your customer experiences are directly reflected on your brand.
And, that is where our lesson begins. Recently, I was flying to a speaking engagement. While waiting for my flight to board I bought a yogurt parfait. After paying for it, I looked for a spoon. There were knives and forks, but no spoons. The little compartment next to the knives and forks was empty. I asked the cashier if they had any spoons. He pointed to where they weren’t. I told him they were out, and in an effort to get rid of me, he suggested that I could go to the restaurant next store and ask them for a spoon.
I walked by the first restaurant a few minutes later and there were plenty of spoons. Obviously, there were spoons somewhere. The guy just didn’t want to get them, when a customer needed them.
I didn’t want to make a scene over this, but I thought I’d mention something to the manager. He wasn’t there when I bought my yogurt. He apologized, but then said something interesting. He mentioned that the restaurant was managed by a group at the airport, so I really shouldn’t expect the same service or quality I am accustomed to at this company’s regular restaurants.
This was a major brand with locations throughout the US. The airport restaurant had the same signage, the same logo and looked just like any of the restaurants you would visit outside of the airport. I’m sure that any executive of this brand would cringe at the response the manager gave me… “I really shouldn’t expect the same service or quality I’m accustomed to…” Really?!
And, that is where our lesson begins.
You see, it doesn’t matter if it is an airport restaurant, a small kiosk or a full-service restaurant. There must be a similar customer experience across all locations, regardless of size or where it is. The logo is the logo, and the brand is the brand!
Let’s switch industries and talk about an icon in the world of customer service. When Nordstrom decided to move into the online world, many of their customers were concerned that they would erode their reputation for amazing service. Management thought long and hard about how to create an online experience that matched the expectation of a Nordstrom customer, and they delivered. Regardless of location – in store or online – Nordstrom will always focus on making sure the customer has the best customer experience.
Now we move to an employee within a company. If there are 100 employees, and 99 of them are amazing, but one is not, what happens when a customer encounters the one who is not? You know the answer. That one bad employee just created the reputation for your brand – at least with that customer.
The old saying is that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Well, the brand is only as strong as its weakest location – or weakest employee. HR departments need to ask the right questions of their teams.
So, here is a little homework. There are three main steps to the assignment:
1. Come up with the top three questions your customers ask your employees.
2. Create the best responses.
3. Train your people to answer the questions correctly.
After you’ve done this and everyone is comfortable with answering those first three questions, come up with three more popular questions and properly train how to answer them. Do this as often as needed, for all your most frequently asked questions. Everyone within your organization should know how to answer these questions properly and with consistency, from one employee to the next.
Start making Moments of Magic for both your external and internal customers and it starts with your leadership and your HR department!
When we Use the Little Things to Make a Big Difference and practice these top 15 customer experience and employee experience tips, you will get results.
- Get back to the basics of customer service. Be polite and say please and thank you.
- Speaking of basics, use the customer’s name. It helps with building rapport.
- Always do what you say you are going to do. If you say you’ll call back in five minutes, don’t make it ten.
- Everyone has customers. Sometimes they are external – customers who pay you money. Sometimes they are internal – colleagues you work with. Sometimes they are both. Everyone has customers.
- Let your customers know your name and how to contact you so if they are inadvertently disconnected, have another question, or there is any other reason they might need a “friend” at the company, they can easily get back in touch with you.
- Respond quickly. Return calls, emails, and any other types of requests quickly.
- Be punctual for meetings. It’s expected you will be on time. It’s a sign of disrespect if you aren’t.
- Monitor social channels for comments from your customers and, once again, respond quickly.
- Treat employees the way you want your customers treated, if not even better. What’s happening inside an organization is felt on the outside by the customer.
- Some companies’ customer service people focus on one-call resolution. Try a no-transfer resolution.
- Create consistent customer experiences. Everyone does their best every day. Customers want and expect a consistent, positive attitude from everyone they come into contact with.
- Empower people to make great customer-focused decisions. This comes through hiring the right people and training them properly.
- Constantly train customer service. It may be short five or ten minute tips. It needs to be ongoing. Training isn’t something you did. It’s something you do.
- Everyone always has two jobs: to do the job they were hired to do and to take care of the customer.
- Be a customer service role model. Regardless of what you do for your company, be that person that everyone admires and wants to emulate.
Don’t just read this list. Use this list! Choose the tips that resonate with you. Circle them. Then focus on one at a time; one each week. And, be sure to share this list with your colleagues. Maybe even your customers.
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More About Shep Hyken:
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author and a Faculty member at XTRAcredits in the Continuing Education department offering SHRM and HRCI approved online courses anytime, anywhere.