Five Ways to Improve the Customer Experience

Choosing excellent on customer service evaluation formA friendly smile and warm welcome are a great first step.  Here are five other ways you and your service team can move your customer’s service experience from good to great.

1.       Make it personal.

If you know your customer’s name, use it.  If you don’t know, find out. Find out what makes your customers tick, what they like, what they don’t like and find a way to incorporate those likes into their service experience. Introduce new employees to regular customers. Don’t forget to create that same level of personalized service for your internal customers.

2.       Take complaints seriously.

Nobody likes customer complaints.  You don’t need to like it, but you and your team need to know how to manage complaints when they arise.   First of all, be thankful for the complaint.  The majority of unhappy customers don’t complain … to you. Chances are they are letting others know. When a customer complains, what they are saying is “I want to come back.  I am giving you a chance to fix this.”   Don’t let that opportunity slip away.

3.       Provide pleasant surprises.

A pleasant surprise is remembered and the story shared with others. Find ways to surprise your customers … pleasantly. These surprises don’t have to be expensive. We had a new customer visit our hotel recently.  They were in Winnipeg to open up a new store and needed our boardroom for a quick team meeting.  We put a complimentary plate of cookies in the boardroom, along with a Congratulations card.  The cost was minimal but it sent the message “we know you and appreciate  you.”

4.       Don’t leave service to chance

Too many rules, regulations and red tape are bad for business.They frustrate customers and employees.  But some structure is necessary.   Create guidelines instead of scripts; train your service professionals and provide on-going coaching and support.  Create scenarios, or use real incidents and ask them to provide suggestions on how to handle those situations.

5.       Do more than what the customer expects

Back in the early 90’s, I was working in the sales department of a hotel.  It was Grey Cup weekend and every room was booked, along with every other hotel in Winnipeg.  A travel agent called, desperately needing a room for a client.  I got her information, called around to a few hotels, found an unreserved room, made the reservation and called her back so she could confirm all the details directly with the hotel.  I spent a whole lot of time sending business to another hotel. Well, not really. That hotel got the revenue that night, but we were the first choice for that travel agent and that client moving forward. Going above and beyond what is expected generates loyalty and gets people talking.

I am a big believer in pulling in the service team and getting their input and suggestions on how to improve service. At your next team meeting, pick one or two of the following and discuss as a team:

  • Ask your service team what they need to confidently manage unhappy customers.
  • Ask them to identify where service breakdowns happen and what their suggestions are to reduce the likelihood of the service breakdown from happening or what they can to do recover from it.
  • Ask what you can do to improve their service experience.
  • Ask them for suggestions on how to provide pleasant surprises or service wows

Your service team and your customers will approve!

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