Taking care of your customer gets more attention this time of the year even though it’s a year round effort. The skill of coaching customer experience through all the platforms of engagement has never been more challenging or more important.
Recently, I saw a blog post by Brooke Howell that brought me back around to the changes in the realm of customer experience. Marketing is increasingly geared toward sales support. But, every marketing plan requires a vertical investment to give the promotion the lift it needs to be successful.
This shift has given more gas to the concept of customer experience as a revenue driver. As Howell points out, social networking is the big reason for it because now your company can end up next to the hashtag #epicfail quicker than ever.
Engagement was called customer “service.” But, the seminal 1993 book, “Raving Fans” by Ken Blanchard, formalized the idea of “experience” as the engine for making your business – no matter the product – the leader in the clubhouse. I was fortunate to meet Mr. Blanchard when I helped coordinate a speaker series for my employer a little over 10 years ago.
His lessons resonate now. Common sense service, effort by your team and recognizing/rewarding the effort of your employees and managers makes them willing marketers to your company’s customers. As an aside, the effort Ken Blanchard provided then for me as a client is an experience that makes me a “raving fan” of his today.
Any student of the game knows that Nordstroms was a pioneer in customer experience before we called it that. Staff was empowered to do whatever it took so the outcome was positive for the customer.
When the encounter was personal, we could go above and beyond without hesitation. During my time in sports administration, the concept of “fan development” rose in popularity because your product – the team – could be winless or shut out on the scoreboard which made it critical to provide your fans with a good time regardless of the outcome.
However, one aspect of today’s virtual economy is that we have increasingly fewer personal opportunities. You are as likely to chat via IM with the live help desk then you are to even have a phone rep.
One company in the new economy that consistently gets rave reviews is Zappos. Here’s a 2009 profile of the company by Max Chafkin of Inc. magazine. This example also shows why customer care is so important and something to continually improve upon. Some companies have such lackluster help centers, they are pushing customers to come to a store rather than risk a bad phone call. But, that could lead to a bad personal experience.
Bottom line for companies, whether you are self-employed or multi-national, is to engage in the training and leadership needed to impact customers. I have had many leaders tell me to run the company “like it’s yours.” But, autonomy without training can lead to bad results.
Moreover, just setting up hard and fast rules can backfire because while something may be the rule, that should not subtract common sense from the solution. Coaching employees, managers and yes, owners, to read, assess and act can be the best marketing investment ever.
Worth repeating is a piece of advice I enclosed in last week’s blog. Never forget what being a customer is like. Everyone is someone’s customer. Be aware of the experience and then bring the good from it to what you do. That is vertical lift worthy of #epicsuccess.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts and thanks for reading.