Last New Year’s, I wrote a blog post entitled, “All Your Customers Want for the New Year is a Good Customer Experience”. In the post, I retold my experience trying out Amazon Prime for the first time as well as a terrible experience with a website theme company. My main point was that you shouldn’t be satisfied with the customer experience being provided until your customers are satisfied, or a better word is when they are delighted. This year, while thinking about what I could share with you as we go into the next year, it came to me, at MartizCX we recommend best practices, but we also tell our clients that they should treat each customer as an “individual”. That is the one of the keys to being successful in the new year—and beyond!
For 2019, I’d like you to focus on four things that will help you drive your employees to focus on your customers as “individuals”.
Have Charity Towards Customers
Implement charity into your life. Charity is often defined as compassion. As customer experience professionals, having charity isn’t a term we often use or associate with our profession. Not because charity is absent, but because it is used in more personal settings. However, charity is an attribute we need to have when working with customers. How can you do this?
I used to work at a healthcare billing company. We worked with patients to set up payment schedules for their hospital bills. I was paid commission based on how aggressive that payback schedule ended up being. Therefore, it was in my best interest to encourage the patients to pay in full when I called them or pay it back as fast as possible. Healthcare can be a personal topic and a lot of times, patients are not in a position to aggressively pay their bills. Many Associates were insistent at times in order to achieve certain commissions. Often, I felt bad for those we called all day and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I could extend charity to those I talked with. I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t have a perfect solution, but I tried my best. With each “individual”. I tried to imagine the hardships they had gone through during their medical care. In some cases, the medical care they were still receiving. I tried to frame my conversation in a way that I understood the expenses incurred were high and that I wanted to help them set up an amount they could pay each month (or in full if they had the resources) so that medical bills didn’t burden them longer than need be. I can’t say my commission rate was one of the highest ever, but I was able to provide a better experience. The point of this example is, sometimes charity is the way to move forward when working with your customers, it is not always purely about money, but a balance between customer and company needs.
Here’s two principles you can think about to help you implement charity into your business dealings:
- Make sure the customer knows what you are doing (selling, marketing, tech support, implementation, etc…) comes from a place of compassion. For example, a sales person might know the pain points of a certain organization, but they should approach the customer/prospect offering a product from a perspective of wanting to help them, not just selling them something even if they don’t need it.
- Make sure intentions are pure. If you try to fake charity, people can see through it and will be much more unlikely to consider your product or service.
At beginning of this post, I said these methods would be easy, but charity takes a lifetime to develop and perfect. To be successful, focus on one person/individual at a time. How can the person I’m talking to/emailing/presenting to benefit from charity today? Doing so will result in a better experience. Even if they don’t choose your product or service, they will come away knowing they were treated fairly and may come back in the future. This year, I encourage you to take the time to weave charity into each individual experience you have with customers. Patience will be required.
Patience, Young Padawan
The biggest change this year for me is my first child was born. Those with children probably don’t need to read more of this section. Enough said. If you don’t have children, you probably have nieces or nephews that this can apply to. Children have to figure everything out! Our daughter has had to learn to eat, sleep, move her arms, legs, and fingers. As parents, this requires patience.
Having patience is key to not only having successful experiences, but also running a successful customer experience program. If you are working directly with a customer, they may not have the same product or service knowledge you have, so taking the time to explain concepts or features can be a test in patience. Making changes to a CX program or getting one starting can take months. Executive buy-in and funds need to be secured, and the right people need to be hired or developed. Not to mention that the fruits of these changes may not come to bear for months at a time.
As with charity, patience takes time to develop. Again, start on a person-by-person basis. How can I be patient with this one individual? How can I be patient with my manager? And yes, how can I be more patient with my children (after all, they should have a good customer experience too)? By taking the time to be more patient, you’ll find customers are more willing to listen to you and seek out your expertise. Take the time this year to identify ways you can be patient in your own professional setting. No doubt patience may wear thin at times.
Be Quick to Apologize and Forgive
In the nearly three years, I’ve been at MaritzCX, there have been times I’ve dropped the ball on assignments, said something offensive, and otherwise had to admit I was at fault. I’m sure my case is not uncommon across the company or any other organization for that matter. Luckily, I work with forgiving co-workers who have given me second, third, even fourth chances to make things right. It can be hard to swallow your pride and apologize, let alone forgive, especially when a work assignment has been negatively affected because of someone’s actions. Yet, I’ve found that when I’ve both forgave and apologized, relationships are never negatively affected. In fact, they grow. Furthermore, I’ve seen my own commitment to a project or work ethic grow as a response to apologizing or forgiving.
As customer experience professionals, it should be our prerogative to resolve personal grievances through apologies and forgiveness towards others in our own life just as much as, if not more than, we do for our customers. I always think back to the airline safety demonstration of putting on your own mask before helping someone else put on theirs. You probably could help someone else put their oxygen mask on before putting your own mask on, but it wouldn’t be a good experience. Same thing goes with resolving customer complaints or trespasses. Make it a habit to be open to apologizing or thinking of forgiveness. This year, start simple. Forgive one person or customer. Ask forgiveness from a customer or co-worker for missing a deadline, or some misunderstanding. You will feel a burden lift and better relationships can be forged with co-workers, and/or customers.
Personal Improvements Affect Work Positively
This New Year doesn’t have to be difficult, if you start with yourself. Focus on what you can do personally to improve you, which in turn can have a positive effect on your experiences (customer/coworker etc.). Making these efforts and using these three principles to help you drive change in 2019 is my challenge to you:
- Use charity in your business dealings
- Develop patience and tolerance when dealing with others
- Learn how to apologize and/or forgive when appropriate
Through focusing on yourself you are actually learning how to focus on better personal and professional experiences.
On behalf of myself, and MaritzCX we hope the new year is full of even more excellent experiences by focusing on being more charitable, having more patience, and being able to apologize or forgive others in your professional life.
Happy New Year!