This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post my colleague, Jeff Dahms, writes about one of the most important parts of the customer relationship, authenticity. Being authentic is required by all of us in order to deliver an Amazing customer experience. – Shep Hyken
You’re doing all the right things. You have a program in place to track Voice of the Customer data. You’re capturing, measuring, and evaluating both customer sentiment and employee performance. Your customer-facing staff is vetted and well trained. A superior customer experience is a priority at all levels of your organization.
But when the VOC results come in, there’s still a gap between employee performance and customer satisfaction. What’s going on here?
The missing piece of the puzzle could be authenticity.
A satisfying customer service experience hinges on the interaction between the customer and your business. First impressions happen every day and go a long way. So do the little things like using a customer’s name, making sure they are served promptly and efficiently, maintaining a pleasant attitude and tone, making eye contact, and saying Thank You.
These elements make up the basic checklist of Customer Service Do’s and Don’ts. But even if your staff is consistently checking every box on that list, customers can still feel unwelcome, challenged, or dissatisfied with their experience if they sense a lack of authenticity from a representative or from your business as a whole.
It takes more than checking the boxes to win a customer over.
Plainly stated, customers can tell when a business is just going through the motions.
They know, for instance, if the representative they’re speaking with on the phone is just reading from a script or repeating a routine they’ve already performed 100 times that day. The result? They feel unimportant and dehumanized. (This is one reason many customers dislike automated phone systems.)
Customers can tell when your employees are having a bad day. They can tell when an employee is in a rush – to get home, to serve other customers, to hand them off to the next person in line. The result? They feel like an unwelcome nuisance.
They will pick up on all sorts of little cues like tone of voice, body language, and the level of surrounding stress. If any of those things strike them as being off, it doesn’t matter how many times they heard their name used or made eye contact – their experience has already been negatively impacted. Once that happens, it’s hard to erase.
The same applies to digital and text interactions, too. If you’ve ever written a letter to your Senator only to get a form letter in response, you know how frustrating the “copy/paste” effect can be.
Automation has its place. For example, no one expects every “Forgot password?” request to connect them to someone who can personally help them track it down or reset it.
But it’s still worth being aware that canned messages can convey a different message entirely than the one you want to send. We’re only half-listening to you. We can’t give you our full attention. You are not unique – we have plenty of other customers just like you, and you don’t deserve special treatment.
On the other side of that coin, you have everything to gain by going out of your way to make an authentic, personal connection to a customer when given the opportunity to do so. Opportunities might look like:
- remembering not just their name but something personal about them;
- making small talk while you pull their information up on your computer;
- paying them a genuine compliment;
- ask them a clarifying question; or
- offering (if needed) a sincere apology.
Your standard customer service checklist serves as a Pass/Fail measurement of an experience. Authentic effort and personal gestures are the invisible final box that, once checked, pushes an experience from ‘good enough’ to ‘exceptional!’
So if you are seeing a gap between performance and satisfaction in your customer feedback, it may reflect that customers are expecting a little more from you than the bare minimum effort to keep their business. The good news is, this opens an opportunity for growth and innovation in how you meet customers’ needs and provide an outstanding customer experience.
Jeff Dahms is Vice President of Research & Development at Customer Service Profiles. At CSP, Jeff is responsible for executing all phases of the customer service measurement process, including designing surveys, analyzing data, identifying trends, and helping clients implement changes. This article was originally published here.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: Five Ways To Deliver Proactive Customer Service