Customer Interaction Management Golden RulesWhen dealing with customers, many businesses make the mistake of assuming that the customer is there for them. They are wrong. As a business, you are there for the customer. If your customer doesn't buy anything from you, you will be out of business. In the hotel industry, the first rule that any newcomer is taught is that the customer, or guest, in this case, is always right. The second rule newcomers are taught is to 'Never say No'. Why do hotels teach their staff these rules? Because they work. The entire customer experience strategy in most hotels is based on these two simple rules. Now you might say that you don't run a hotel, and these rules cannot possibly apply to your business. However, you might be surprised that in 99% of client interaction, at least a part of the below rules will apply directly to you and your business.
Custom Experience Strategy RulesRule one, the customer is always right, is designed to prevent arguments with guests. For example, a guest just checked in to a hotel and complained immediately that the towels are dirty. You, as the manager of the hotel, have only just inspected the room and know for a fact that the towels are clean. Do you argue, or do you change the towels? You change the towels. There is nothing to be gained from an argument with a customer. There are only losses here. In business, always see the point of the client first and foremost and see if you can mitigate a situation quickly. Rule two is designed to give the client the best possible experience. Never say no. It sounds easy, and it also seems impossible. How can you always say yes to everything a customer requests? You cannot. And the rule is not about always saying yes to a customer. It is about never saying no. If you cannot comply with a customer request, offer alternatives. If a customer needs a product that you do not stock, offer to stock that item for customers instead of saying, 'We do not have that'. The never say any rule is all about making a customer feel good about your company. That no matter what happens, they feel good about every interaction they have with you.
How To Set Up A Successful Customer Interaction Management SystemSetting up a successful customer interaction management system is all about analysis. First and foremost, ask yourself this simple question:
If I was a customer of my company, what would I need?Finding out the needs of your clients is the most important and vital step in any business. Putting yourself in their shoes will make you aware of the shortfalls in your organization. The second step is to make a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats analysis. Why do we do this? Because we want to find the areas where we can improve, but also where we are strong. We will look at some of the possible questions you can ask yourself; however, these will, of course, be very different for each company.
- Some of my team is good in setting up personal connections with clients and have excellent relations with them. How can we, as a company, reward this and use incentives to expand this behaviour?
- Is your client pool loyal to you as a company, and if not, why? In what ways could you promote and reward clients for being faithful to you as a company.
- Are there Customer interactions that could be improved in your company, and if so, in what manner? How are clients received? Do you have a set standard for email responses, and is the wording correct? Could you do a training seminar or maybe hire outside help?
- What is the competition doing better than us, and how can we learn from that?
- Is there a negative influence in my company that prevents positive interactions?
Setting Up and Executing your Customer Experience StrategyWe have analyzed our business, and now it's time to put that analysis to work. We need to set up a strategy that will improve our customer interactions.
StrengthsWe now know where the strengths are in our organization, and we need to ensure these are put to work. For example, one of your strengths is that some of your team is extremely strong in setting up lasting relationships with clients. Why are these people good at this, and why are others not? Analyze the strengths of your teams and create a training plan or reward system to teach others to exhibit this behaviour.
WeaknessesYour client pool is not loyal to you. But why not? You are friendly; your team is knowledgeable, you communicate clearly, yet still, the clients will go to your competitor as well. There are several ways to bind your clients to your company. First of all, and most importantly, is pricing. Where does your company stand versus the competition, should you maybe lower your prices or set up a loyalty system? Other areas you can think about is brand loyalty through social media, create brand ambassadors by letting your loyal clients do the work for you.
Opportunities & ThreatsThreats and opportunities are probably the most critical factors in creating better customer interaction. Opportunities create growth and should, therefore, be exploited in every possible manner. Threats create growth equally as long as they exploited and used positively. Every opportunity to improve your service and every threat to your bottom line is an investment possibility in your company.
Customer Service Tips and Tricks
- Set up company standards and best practices. There are millions of companies out there that have fantastic slogans like "We strive to create the best possible experience for our clients and ……… etc." However, how many companies make their staff believe this? One company that does this exceptionally well is the Ritz Carlton hotels. Through their slogan: 'ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen', the three steps of service, a client promise, and an employee promise. The critical factor is not what those steps and promises are. It is how they are enforced. Employees have the power to change the way the hotel operates; the rules and standards are not only enforced by the management but even more by empowered employees.
- Listen to your clients. Seems simple. It's not. Active listening means more than just hearing what your client is telling you. It is even more about what the client is not telling you. Many people will feel embarrassed or scared to complain. Even people in senior management will feel this on occasion. Therefore, seeing underlying issues and effectively dealing with them is something that you need to do on a daily basis.
- Make the internal client as important as the external client. Your team, staff, managers, everyone in your company should feel as crucial as the next person. If you want to have confident people working with your clients, then make them feel confident. A company where people are happy and satisfied in their daily work is a place where customer interactions will skyrocket.
- Be transparent and honest. You would be amazed to see how many companies lie to their clients. A company could probably do it thousands of times and get away with it. However, the first time a company caught in a lie is when they lose that client. Clients appreciate honesty more than being kept happy. If you cannot supply an item, or the delivery delayed, always tell your clients upfront.