I wonder if anyone knows when the last of the men in brown coats disappeared. Do you remember those gentlemen, because they definitely were gents! Standing to attention behind the counter of your local shop, hair slicked back, moustache neatly trimmed and waxed, all ready to retrieve whichever product you required from a shelf behind the counter.
Yes, those were the days before self service. And yes, my age is showing! But my word, did those chaps ever know their stuff! They knew your name, they knew the brands you liked, and they even remembered how many of each item you bought on a weekly basis!
Those were the days that defined the term ‘customer service’, and in many ways, it seems that ever since then, all we’ve been trying to do is recreate that sense of not just caring for our customer, but actually knowing them.
So what changed from back then til now? Just about everything, from supermarkets to the credit boom to vastly more people on the planet buying things. And the small matter of the internet changing the way we live our lives.
Today, organisations of all hues now fully realise that the customer experience defines what happens to the bottom line. And with the enormous potential that social media offers in terms of customer interaction and data, we really can ‘know’ our customer like never before.
So it’s all easy peasy then! We’ve all got our data, our CRM databases and our IT infrastructures in place. Understanding our customer and creating that sought-after loyalty is in the bag. Right?
Well in theory, yes. There’s just that little factor which adds so much interest to business life. It brings colour and joy to all our interactions. It determines whether we succeed or fail. It’s the human factor.
In short, the best data in the world isn’t going to get us anywhere at all, unless our front line staff can absorb the CRM data, synthesise it in the moment, and then produce a genuinely personal customer experience.
And the keyword in all of this is, of course, ‘genuine’. Our staff now require the sensitivity and emotional intelligence to be able to meaningfully engage with our customers to deliver that all-important experience, otherwise, what’s the good in all that juicy data? Whom if not the front-line staff, is going to put it to work?
This is what it all boils down to: investing in the training and development of our staff, to ensure that all the effort and expense involved in creating that data, produces an ROI…
…but not by delivering some nebulous ‘customer service skills’ training programme.
Our experience of implementing customer centric cultures, has allowed us to pinpoint the critical factors which have transformed the effectiveness of contact centres around the world.
1. Emotional intelligence amounts to a competitive advantage for the companies who can successfully apply it to their customer experience interactions.
2. Listening and responding to a customer is good. Hearing, interpreting, evaluating and responding are the next level. It’s learnable and powerful.
3. Is your contact centre culture driven by targets or by measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty? Are call advisors empowered to create real relationships with your customers? A single-minded focus on meeting numerical targets is demoralising for contact centre people.
4. Get the people on the phones together with the marketing department to introduce real depth to customer profiles. Your call advisors have actual knowledge of customer interactions which you may never have accessed.
A combination of 21st century know-how and an old fashioned attitude to truly knowing your customer, describes the way forward for companies and organisations who are serious about creating great customers experiences.
Do we need to start donning those old brown button-up coats and slapping on the brilliantine once again? Hopefully not, but looking back is going to enable us to go forward as never before.
For an in-depth conversation about how we’ve transformed the customer service experiences of companies around the world, contact dancing lion today.