My consulting clients often ask: What are other companies doing to set themselves apart from their competition? What is that one thing that will help us become the brand that customers can’t live without?
Well, here is the answer. Drum roll, please…
It may not seem sexy, but consistency is the secret ingredient to making customers happy.
I wish I could wave my magic wand and provide a simple answer to this request. I wish there was one magic phrase that I could say that would immediately set them apart from their competition and make price irrelevant. However, the answer to providing consistent service is a bit complex.
Consistency is needed in several different areas: internal and external. Remaining consistent in the internal culture will attract the right employees that will provide outstanding customer service to their guests, members, clients, etc. Customers crave consistency. They want to know that their interaction is going to be smooth and effortless, regardless of the situation or stage in the customer journey.
How can you and your team provide consistent service?
A Customer Experience Cycle (CEC) identifies each touchpoint or stage within the customer journey and establishes the experiential standards everyone must follow. To create a CEC you must identify the service defects, operational standards, experiential standards and the above and beyond opportunities within each stage.
Let me explain. The greeting is usually the first stage in a customer journey, regardless of the business or industry, so I will use that as my example.
First, start by defining the Service Defects of “Stage 1: The Greeting” by asking the following questions:
- Where do we drop the ball?
- What can (or does) go wrong?
Service Defects, Stage 1:
Perhaps we don’t answer the phone within 2 rings or there is no one at the
reception desk to greet the customer.
Next, define the Operational and Experiential Standards.
- What do we have to do?
- How could we provide a World-Class experience?
Standards, Stage 1:
Answer the phone within 2 rings by saying: “Thank you for calling Company XYZ,
my name is Jessica, with whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with?”
Finally, define the opportunities to exceed the customer’s expectations and go Above & Beyond.
- How can we “Wow” our customer?
- What could we do to surprise and delight?
Above & Beyond, Stage 1:
Greet the customer by name and personalize the interaction by using F.O.R.D.
Related – Meet as a Stranger, Leave as a Friend
Once you identify these three categories within each customer touchpoint, you have completed your CEC! However, just because the document is created, it does NOT mean that your work is done. In order to provide consistent customer service, the employees need to understand what they have to do within each stage and also be aware of the opportunities to go Above & Beyond, when possible.
I have been working with an auto dealership in Grand Blanc, Michigan that has done a great job in creating their CEC. Al Serra Auto Plaza has been very successful in identifying their bad habits (service defects) and establishing a more consistent customer experience through implementing their Experiential Standards and Above & Beyond opportunities.
Developing the nonnegotiable experiential standards for each stage of the Customer Experience Cycle allows employees to provide a consistent engaging experience that is unlike the majority of competitors. Once these stages and experiences are created, every employee must consistently execute each of these standards.
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