Earlier this week I attended a customer experience seminar. We had some excellent presentations on how to improve customer service, including one on what went on behind-the-scenes for the London Olympics in creating such a memorable visitor experience through the Games’ Makers (in which – I am proud to say – I played a small part).
One of the sessions was on customer experience journey-mapping. As the name suggests this is looking at everything on the customer’s journey from the customer’s perspective, and should include everything that happens leading up to the point of purchase (awareness, decision to buy, etc) as well as what happens afterwards (e.g. staying in touch, recognition of loyalty), as the before and after is still very relevant if you want to improve customer service
Mapping the journey is one thing, but then review the experience your customers get at each stage on that journey. What do you want them to feel at each point, and how well do you achieve that?
Of course, the most obvious people to ask about the customer journey from a customer’s perspective are your customers.
But failing to start by asking your team members how to improve customer service is a massive lost opportunity on three counts:
- Firstly, you get a fresh pair of eyes (and ears) on what the customer sees, hears or experiences. It’s amazing what team members will spot as opportunities to improve customer service or modify the customer touch points to give a smoother or enhanced customer experience.
Your customer facing team members will invariably hear first-hand from customers of your short-falls and their frustrations.
- Secondly, when team members spot ways to improve customer service it gives them a sense of ownership over any changes, rather than being seen as a criticism.
So you’ll get employees engaged and get buy-in and commitment to making the changes happen.
- Lastly 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.
This is just as relevant for back of house staff too.
Because we can become oblivious to what we’re involved in every day (and sometimes quite protective) it helps to mix teams up a bit. Even old hands can give you another perspective by experiencing another department.
Often it’s seemingly simple things that can improve customer service. The layout of counters forcing customers to backtrack or double up wasting time and effort; poor directions or signage, meaning customers get lost or miss things altogether (often impacting your sales too);
Build it into your induction process as new team members will be experiencing things for the first time, giving you a fresh perspective.
Of course, it may not always be possible or practical for team members to experience everything 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.
But you might be in a position to use the exercise as rewarding activity. If, for example, you run a hotel, having your team members stay at the hotel (and have access to everything your guests do) might be a treat for them, but gives you the opportunity for feedback too, so it’s a win-win.
How often do you put any of your team members in your customers’ shoes and ask for their ideas on how to improve customer service?