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Blunt Truths About The Total Customer Experience

In case you haven't heard, the means by which people purchase the products they want is changing rapidly. Online ordering is all the rage, and online shopping is the "shiny object" upon which everyone focuses. However, no longer is it a matter of whether you've transitioned selling your products online (if you're still not doing so, well there's nothing more we can add to convince you at this point.). To be fair, offering online shopping is ONLY the proverbial tip of the iceberg. True success emanates from all of the back-end processes you / your company develops and implements to make the buying experience seamless for your customer. Consider the online shopping experience just the beginning of the Customer Experience. Of course, it does set the initial standards and expectations to your customers (ease, convenience, quality, selection, time-saving, always-available to name a few). However, it's what happens next, and throughout the entire ordering process that will either exceed, meet or fall short of the initial expectations of your Customers. There is no question that the expectations / requirements of your customer is elevating at a rapid pace.

In a recent survey conducted by Statista regarding Brand Preference, the importance of the "service experience" stood out as THE most vital attribute for any customer when considering from whom to buy. No surprise. The good news--while brands such as Nike, Adidas, Augusta, Badger, Under Armour et al fight it out over product attributes, it's the experience of buying that matters most. The bad news--too many Dealers / Providers are simply not equipped (nor too often seem to care) about delivering the BEST customer experience from start to finish. There is no doubt the CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE is your #1 opportunity to stand out.

Teamuniformorders works with a broad swath of businesses of all shapes and sizes. Therefore we have a great vantage of those that do it well and, conversely, those that simply don't get it. Here are a few observations we've made along the way from those companies that do it right, and how they do so:

1. Put the CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE above all else. Delivering the best experience for the customer is a strategic decision that guides every aspect of successful companies. Every step in the process is designed to address the core question--will this make the Customer Experience the best it can be? And every operational meeting ends with addressing the question--will this make the Customer Experience better?

2. Cut Out the WEAKEST Link. In a team of service-obsessed people, even if just one member of the team is not on board, the result can be substandard service. Service-obsessed companies reject any performances (and people) that do not adhere to the high standards they've set. Delta Airlines, once famous for being customer-obsessed, had a hiring practice during their hey day. The would fill a room with flight attendant candidates and instruct each to prepare a 5 minute presentation about themselves to the entire group. While each candidate toiled over what they were going to say and how they presented themselves, Delta would populate the room with executives (unknown to the candidates). Out of each group presentation, only 5 candidates would receive an offer to join their great company. How were the winning candidates selected? The candidates who sat in the audience and listened intently to each presenter were given the chance to join Delta.

3. Perfect the Art of the 5 Minute Response. Once any customer reaches out, the clock starts ticking. Great service-obsessed companies have figured out the secret--responding quickly to each and every customer to acknowledge receipt (and ownership) of the problem is key. Ninety percent of customers declare it is a prompt reply and acceptance of resolving the issue that is vital to a satisfied experience. Conversely, going dark and trying to hide from the Customer will always make a bad situation worse.

4. Embrace Technology. While this is a statement of the obvious, it never ceases to amaze us how frequently people avoid using readily-available tools to be in service to their Customers. Besides the obvious (smartphones, texting, SMS channels, dedicated 800 numbers, chatbots, etc.) there are also numerous, emerging solutions that are designed to facilitate prompt, accurate and documented interaction with your clients. In fact, the dedicated TUO Customer Care team utilizes a customized version of the leading Customer Support software to practice what we preach. But no matter the availability of technology, the hard truth comes down to this--no technology in the world will work if the people using it are not customer-obsessed.

5a. Create Channels of Honest Feedback. Whether you do or not, the feedback channels will be created for you. The advent of chat rooms and social media in general have ensured that the voice of the customer will be heard. While you cannot control what goes on in the netherworld of social media, you can monitor what goes on and create methods for your customers to communicate with you. When was the last time you sent a simple survey to your customer base? Survey tools such as SurveyMonkey are easy (and generally free) to use. And they all offer simple ways to embed feedback forms on your website, email campaigns, and social media. One client of TUO utilizes a dedicated 888 Hotline where customers are encouraged to call and leave their honest, blunt feedback. Instead of cringing at the thought, it would be wise to think about at least knowing what your customers are saying....

5b. Create Processes of Continuous Improvement. Another client of TUO conducts weekly staff meetings at which the Customer Feedback is shared (unedited) and the combined team assesses patterns, trends and seeks to derive insights from the information. Every meeting ends with an Action Plan to address the obvious problems and each member of the team is assigned a definable, accountable outcome. Of course, outcomes are subsequently reviewed and discussed at ensuing meetings.

We are all working in a changing world. The biggest difference between the working world 10 or so years ago to work today can be boiled down to this--the speed of change has increased exponentially. And the competition will only get more fierce. In turn, business practices become antiquated and out-dated faster and faster. The successful companies will be those who are willing to self-examine, assess honestly, and do everything they can to be in service to the people who pay their bills...their Customers.


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