Red Balloon founder Naomi Simson explains why it’s important to create a customer experience culture and offers some tips on how to do it.
When looking at a topic like customer experience within a business, it’s first important to establish what a customer is. Every employee in every business has their own group of customers, and in that, an opportunity to create a great customer experience. Everyone is accountable, empowered and able to make an impact on the customer.
We recently created a theme called ‘Customer Love’, the object being to align everyone in the business with the commitment to create a great customer experience. For example, in PR those customers are journalists and bloggers; for the product category managers it’s the thousands of small businesses (our suppliers) they support; for the employee experience team (that’s HR in most businesses), their customers are our employees.
The theme was all about recognising instances where colleagues went above and beyond to do something that would have a positive impact on their customer, and hence the RedBalloon brand. Programs like this show all employees the value of their contribution.
And creating a culture based around great customer interactions at every touch point doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Take US-based online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos for example. Many regard them as a guiding light for customer experience. This is their ten step approach to creating a great customer experience:
– Make customer service a priority for the whole company, not just a department. A customer service attitude needs to come from the top.
– Make WOW a verb that is part of your company’s everyday vocabulary.
– Empower and trust your customer service reps. Trust that they want to provide great service… because they actually do. Escalations to a supervisor should be rare.
– Realise that it’s okay to fire customers who are insatiable or abuse your employees.
– Don’t measure call times, don’t force employees to up sell, and don’t use scripts.
– Don’t hide your 1800 number. It’s a message not just to your customers, but to your employees.
– View each call as an investment in building a customer service brand, not as an expense you’re seeking to minimise.
– Have the entire company celebrate great service. Share stories of WOW experiences to everyone.
–Find and hire people who are already passionate about customer service.
– Give great service to everyone: customers, employees, and vendors.
Every new employee at Zappos (no matter their role in the business) has at least two weeks on the phone to customers as part of the induction program. There is no better way to know a business than to spend time with your customers.
But for every great example, there are always one or two terrible ones. Unfortunately great customer service, as simple and as powerful as it is, is not part of the DNA of all organisations.
A recent example that springs to mind is that of China Eastern Airlines. This is not only an example of poor customer service, but it goes a step further with employees of the airline – a manager in fact – not only dismissing and downright ignoring the complaints of increasingly angered passengers (customers), but becoming physically confrontational. Yes, this is an extreme, but it also highlights that behaviour comes from the top. With managers like this there is little hope that other employees in this organisation will ever see great customer service as something to strive for.
You can watch the clip here and decide for yourself whether you’d choose to fly with them.
Every business has examples of where they’ve gone wrong or where they could have done better – it’s impossible to please everyone all the time. We talk about delivering five million “Good Times” by 2020 – not five million “OK times”. Not five million “that’ll do” times. Five million “Good Times”. This is our acknowledgement that perhaps we can’t make everyone happy every time, but we are going to do our absolute best to deliver in every possible instance to every customer we reach.