Take REAL ownership of your Customer’s Experience
From time to time, I get to go on site to work with different companies. As an introvert, who occasionally gets cabin fever, this works really well for me. I can only take people in doses.
I’ve been in Customer Service since Columbus sailed (1492) and I’m so used to going to environments where things are chaotic (after all, why call me if not?) or extremely disorganized. So, imagine my surprise when I walk into a company that’s quite peaceful… everyone is smiling, and the Customer Service team is happy to answer the phone. That’s right, no typo. They pick up the phone with a smile and are genuinely happy to help the customer.
Immediately, I start looking for Ashton Kutcher. Someone’s punking me. This can’t be right. Well it is right, and it is real.
So what’s the big deal?
I’m often asked: How do we create a customer-centric environment? My usual response is you have to keep the customer experience top of mind for all roles. You do this by consistent communication cross functionally and creating true subject matter experts within your customer service team. I stand by that… but after seeing this team in action, I’m upping the ante!
So, let’s get real: the customer service team is often the largest and lowest paid function with the organization, but they’re expected to know the most. They have to know inventory, current sales and promotions, what’s working, not working, shipping delays, the weather, the customer’s preferences, the name of their first born… Yes, it’s true.
Marketing creates promotions and sales, and they only need to be aware of the work they’re doing. But Customer Service also has to be aware of the work that Marketing is doing… is that totally fair?
The shipping department is responsible for packing orders and ensuring timely delivery. If the delivery is missed, the customer talks to Customer Service… who has no insight into what’s happening within the Shipping Department… yet, they have to address the customer on behalf of the shipping department… is that the right way to do it? I say nay!
I’m throwing caution to the wind. Remember the saying “you break, you buy?” … what if we applied that concept to customer experience? Shipping team: if you’re sending deliveries out late, or mispacking items, you talk to the customers you’re impacting. I know, I just saw you clutch your pearls. You’re thinking: the shipping person shouldn’t be engaging with customers. My question is why the heck not? Basic human interaction should be a soft skill required for any role. Why are they allowed to create the dissatisfied customer, but never have to address the dissatisfaction?
What do you think would happen to your error rates if the person creating the customer’s experience had to hear about the experience they’re creating? DIRECTLY! It would go down, I’d bet. Significantly.
So, my new answer to creating a customer centric environment: Make everyone responsible for their own mistakes. If your department impacts a customer’s experience, you deal with the customer on said experience.
I guarantee you, the customer satisfaction will go up, wait times would go down and you know what else? Less inquiries because there will be less errors. Let’s be real, most people are scared of talking to customers… if we create an environment of ownership, scared or not… everyone will have to!