September 1, 2011
Sometimes we become so focused on all the tasks that need to get done at work that we lose sight of our customers’ perceptions.
The end of summer is a perfect time to take a trip through your company while walking in your customers’ shoes. In order to be a loyalty leader, you need to have a clear understanding of how your customers feel whenever they conduct business with anyone in your organization.You can begin by calling yourself at work. Call in to your direct line and listen carefully to your voice mail recording. What kind of message does it convey? Are you hearing a warm, friendly person on the phone who sincerely sounds like they want to help? Next, pretend you’re a customer who is about to make a service request that you typically handle. Without identifying who you are, call the company and request service. Pay attention to details such as how difficult or easy it is to navigate through the company’s voice mail system. Note how long you need to wait before you actually speak with a live human being. When you are actually speaking with an employee, ask questions that are often asked by customers. Is the information communicated clearly and respectfully? Ask to have your call transferred to another department that deals with external customer requests. Evaluate how the transfer was handled. Did the employee take ownership of the call? Did they offer to contact someone directly in the other department? Did he or she give you a name and number just in case the call was dropped? If you work in a retail environment, make a visit to the store on your day off and get a feel for what it’s like to be treated as a customer. If your co-workers can identify you, ask a friend or family member to shop in the store and give you feedback on the customer service experience. You can observe from a distance. This is not the same as being a secret shopper where employees are being measured on their customer service performance. It is simply an exercise in perception so you can gain insight into your customers’ experience.The greater your understanding of how your customers feel when they do business with you, the greater your empathy will be for their needs and requests. Walk in your customers’ shoes a few times and then evaluate what you could do differently to make their experience more positive. It is usually just the little things that need tweaking such as remembering to smile when you’re speaking on the phone. Or, using words like “please,” “thank you” and “I’m sorry” during customer conversations. With every customer interaction you have, ask yourself, “If this were me, what would I want?” When you pause to think about this, it may change what you decide to do next.