Exceptional Customer Service – When would you rave about it?

car

It’s a common term we hear nearly every day within the contact centre industry. Organisational intent is increasingly focused on leveraging positive customer experiences to not only retain customers, but to create new growth opportunities through advocacy as satisfied customers spread the word on how exceptional our customer service is. We’ve even invented a measure for this phenomenon in Net Promoter Score (NPS). But for all the talk, and investment, how often do we actually experience that customer experience moment that compels us to regale our friends and family about how wonderful a company was, as opposed to answering “Yes” on a survey when prompted “Would you recommend this company to your friends?” I am pleased to declare that I’ve just had one of those exceptional customer experience moments, and I think I know why their service was exceptional!

On Sunday night, after a weekend away in the country, I needed to make an emergency run to the supermarket to feed a family of starving mouths (picture hungry baby birds in a nest). I jumped in the car, turned the key, and was greeted by the horrible ‘whirring’ of a car whose battery has failed! I’m the first to admit I know nothing about car maintenance. What little I know leads immediately to the assumption that any minor car servicing needed nearly always escalates into a chain of inconvenient related issues needing immediate and costly attention!

With a rising sense of dread, I jumped online and reviewed available roadside assistance services in my area. Having selected a preferred supplier, I rang their call centre, was greeted with a simple IVR, and connected straight through to a consultant.  The consultant confirmed all my details, the service required, and advised that a technician would be at my address within the hour.  I was already surprised that the quote for service matched what was published on their website. Twenty minutes later the technician arrived, completed all his tests and replaced my battery (he even managed to upsell me on an extended warranty).

The balancing act for organisations is to make sure they understand their customers, which channel they prefer to utilise (i.e. web, chat, email, phone) and that irrespective of the selected channel, the customer is at a minimum satisfied with the outcome.  The measurement of the customer experience can be done in a number of ways and from various sources. However, it will typically result in the outcome being that the customer considered the interaction failed to meet expectations, met expectations or exceeded expectations.

Until recently I had a cynical view of just how much organisations actually invested in their people, processes and technology towards managing their customer’s experience. The cynic in me just saw this as another buzz word that organisations felt they needed to outwardly espouse while internally the organisational goals and objectives were aligned elsewhere.  This all changed with this recent personal experience.

From reviewing websites to having a working car, and all within one hour, is simply amazing. My expectations were well and truly exceeded.  I was so impressed that a few days later I visited the “Contact Us” section of their website to leave them with some positive feedback – this is not something I would normally do, so I must have been really impressed with this organisation.  What happened next was again amazing. I received a voicemail thanking me for the feedback and that the staff involved would receive recognition of their efforts.

Now, thinking of this in terms of customer experience management, this organisation really has its act together:

1.            Acknowledge the market/industry you are in.

In this case a customer is typically in a negative frame of mind in contacting them (my car is broken down; this is going to cost me money).  Take into consideration the customer’s motivation and frame of mind when thinking about how you will service your customers.

2.            Make yourself easy to deal with.

Which channel do you want your customers to use?  Whichever channel you would prefer, you need to make sure it is seamless so that your customers also prefer to use this channel.  In this case the contact centre, the website, and the people were all aligned so that the information provided was the same no matter where it was sourced and the interactions were made simple.

3.            Follow the lifecycle of your customer interaction.

From the moment your customer interacts with your organisation, maintain a history of how you have serviced them and use this to continually improve on future interactions.  I wasn’t expecting a response to my website feedback (maybe just one of those automated email responses) but this organisation actually took the time to have one of their staff contact me and be in a position to pass on my appreciation to the staff involved.

What is clear about this company is that they understand what their mission is, who their customers are, and the importance of coordinating people processes and technology in order to achieve their goals. While they may not use the phrase, they definitely have an effective Customer Interaction Strategy.

So “Customer Experience Management” is not just another buzzword … it’s a way to delight your customers and find new ones.

Regards,
A Reformed Cynic

PS. If you need a new battery, let me know I can recommend a great organisation.

Paul Jones, QPC Business Development Manager