Category Archives: Customer journey

You’re only as good as your weakest link

You are only as good as your weakest link. That means if you have just one person failing to deliver good customer service or giving a poor customer experience this will impact your customers perception of your business as a whole.

And that person might not even be one of your own team. Any one of your suppliers or third party providers who can impact your customer experience could be leaving your customers wanting to go elsewhere.

 

So who are the weak links in your business?



When you stop noticing the cracks

25 years!cracks

It’s 25 years this week since we moved into our house. There aren’t many things we haven’t changed; the whole layout of the rooms, we’ve added an extension and we’ve extended into the roof space.

But it’s taken this long to put up a sign outside with the house name (this was something we said we would do before we even moved in, and yes, it has taken us 25 years!). And three years to fix a broken tile in our kitchen doorway.

You see, the thing is, the longer you live with something the more you become accustomed to it being that way. We simply stop noticing the cracks. And in the case of the kitchen tile we just automatically stepped over it.

And this can happen in a business too. There can be a gradual decline: the fabric of your building, the morale of your team, the speed of response for a customer. When it’s gradual we don’t notice it.

And once it’s been a certain way for any length of time unless it causes us a major inconvenience we simply get used to things that way.

So what are the cracks in your business which could be impacting your teams well-being or productivity, or your customers experience?

Even when you stop noticing these things if they have an impact on your team or your customers you can be sure that they won’t have stopped noticing.

So ask the question

Ask your team where there are ‘cracks’ in your business: in your systems, with your equipment, in your customers’ journey. Listen to their views to flush out anything that’s standing in the way of them doing a great job or impacts the customer in some way.

This often highlights frustrations they have in the system or with current resources, levels of authority, existing skills or conflicting priorities.

Ask them to suggest better ways of doing things. Not only can this flag up things you may have been unaware of, if anything needs to change or it needs some effort on their part to make improvements they’ll be far more bought in to doing something well if they have initiated it.

The customer experience

Listen to what your team tell you about shortfalls in the customer journey; they’ll invariably spot where improvements can be made.

Many of your team are much closer to your customers than you are and will see opportunities to enhance the customer experience. So ask for their ideas and be prepared to act on them.

Ask your team to make an honest assessment and reflect on how they think customers currently feel at each of these key touch points.

If they aren’t sure ask them to reflect back on some of the conversations they’ve had with customers.

Arrange for each team member to take the customer journey themselves and see how it feels being on the receiving end.

If you’ve done this exercise with your team before, this time allocate team members to different departments to get a different perspective.  When it’s your own department it’s easy to become protective, oblivious to some of the challenges or frustrations customers may encounter. Reviewing another department can help flush out potential ‘blind spots’.

Ask your team to make a note of everything that isn’t quite perfect yet. It doesn’t mean to say you have to fix everything, but you can make a conscious decision as to which aspects you might put to one side for now and which need to be addressed as a priority.

It can be quite revealing what your team pick up; they’ll often spot things you don’t.

Keeping on top of maintenance

Have a system in place for maintenance, whether this is done in house or with a contractor. Encourage team members to report problems promptly when the equipment doesn’t appear to be functioning on all four cylinders, or gets damaged, rather than apportioning blame on them for causing the problem.

Have a process which makes this quick and easy. Failure to report and deal with problems promptly not only leads to frustrations, and later accusations of whose fault it is, but could cost you dearly in the long run if it causes long-term damage.

Listen to what they have to say

Unless followed though promptly they won’t bother telling you next time.

The longer problems are left unresolved, the less emphasis it places on the importance of their welfare or the customer experience in their eyes and the less importance they will place on their contribution to your business.

Old habits die hard

If my kitchen floor is anything to judge by, the longer it’s taken to fix the problem the long it take for people to adjust to the new way.

I’m still stepping over the broken tile, even though it’s no longer there!

 


Systems and resources to support your customer service

Here’s part 8 in my 12 blog series onsystems

how to engage and motivate your team on their return from their Christmas break

8. Systems and resources

How often have we heard the phrase “I’m sorry, the system won’t allow me to do that.”?

Do you have systems in place which make it cumbersome for your customers? Or which mean people having to reinvent the wheel every time they carry out similar tasks; putting extra pressure on them, particularly those which have a direct impact on the customer, so the customer doesn’t get a consistent level of service?

Or is there so much red tape and to-ing and fro-ing that slows everything down?

Do you have all the right equipment, tools, or even products?

It’s easy for us to become oblivious of how ineffective a system works or poor the equipment when we’re not using it every day. So test it frequently, and ask your team for their observations and any feedback they’ve had from customers. Very often the simplest of modifications is all that’s needed to make all the difference.

 

If you’d like more ideas here are 28 Activities to Engage, Energise and Excite your Team in Customer Service



Your customers’ journey

Here’s part 6 in my 12 blog series onCustomer Journey

how to engage and motivate your team on their return from their Christmas break

6. Your customers’ journey

Now’s a perfect time to review your entire customer journey and all the various touch points your customers experience.

I’m often amazed how frequently I come across employees who only know their tiny little bit of the customer journey, having never experienced anything else the customer gets to see or hear.

I strongly encourage any business to have every single employee experience every one of their customer touch points. It’s amazing what they pick up and the opportunities they see to improve the whole customer experience. Not forgetting the potential it opens up for spotting opportunities to add value or make recommendations to customers.

So if January is a quiet month for you, what better time to review this.

 

Delivering great customer service is more than just a sheep dip exercise. Find out more here

 



A first-hand experience

Shoes. Single flat color icon. Vector illustration.

How often do you or any of your team put yourselves in your customers’ shoes? Is it built into your customer service training?

I’m often amazed how frequently I come across employees who only know their tiny little bit of the customer journey, having never experienced anything else the customer gets to see or hear.

I strongly encourage all businesses to have every single employee experience every one of their customer touch points.

This has two spin offs.

Firstly you get a fresh pair of eyes (and ears) on what the customer sees, hears or experiences. Of course this is no substitute for your customers’ feedback, but it’s amazing what team members will spot as opportunities to enhance or modify the customer touch points to give a smoother or enhanced customer experience. Not forgetting the potential it opens up for spotting opportunities to add value or make recommendations to customers.

Secondly it helps your team members to engage more readily with your customers.

Because they’ve experienced everything first hand for themselves they are able to appreciate what’s important to the customer at that point, and can relate easily to them when discussing or describing any aspect of your service or products.

Of course it may not always be possible for team members to experience everything (let’s say you are a midwife or undertaker!) but even if you sell exotic holidays or exclusive wedding dresses there will still be plenty of opportunity to get a sense of what your customers experience particularly the various touch points your customer experiences before or after doing business with you, which so often get forgotten.

Because we can become oblivious to what we’re involved in every day (and sometimes quite protective) aim to mix things up a bit. Even old hands can give you another perspective by experiencing another department. And build it into your induction process as new team members will be experiencing things for the first time, giving you a fresh perspective.