Logistical challenges are impacting the customer’s experience. Effective service professionals are using their direct connection to the customer to restore the relationship.
Service professionals have access to a piece of information unavailable in even the most robust data set: the customer’s sentiment.
Service professionals are privy to the customer’s concerns, needs, and interests. They also have a read on the customer’s tone and emotions. This breadth of information, like many tiles in a mosaic, creates a detailed picture.
What matters is how service professionals use this information because “customer relationship valuations as a percent of total enterprise value” have doubled in recent years, according to Harvard Business Review. The same data found that customer relationships are even more important to a company’s value than brand strength.
But these relationships are at risk.
Reducing that risk and restoring the relationship means doing three things.
See The Entire Customer
Customers rarely feel seen. As a result, their frustrations compound because their problem remains unresolved and they now feel even more angered by a hurried conversation.
This common scenario is avoidable. Seeing the entire customer only requires the service professional to:
Engage in Active Listening
Good listening is not passive. Becoming a good listener means committing to three behaviors: First, encourage the speaker by asking non-leading questions that seek more detail. Second, mirror the customer because doing so signals that the listener is empathetic. Third, use questions to confirm the speaker’s key points.
Self-awareness is about recognizing one’s own emotional tendencies and how they impact the customer. By recognizing these tendencies, the service professional can manage them and develop an accurate, honest read on how well they are addressing the customer’s challenges.
When we rely on too little information, we are succumbing to the anchoring bias. Assumptions drive anchoring. The solution is to ask more questions and listen to the responses. In doing so, the service professional creates a dimensional picture of the customer’s needs.
Deliver an Heightened Experience
Excellent customer service has become a competitive advantage. Research from Bain shows that “a 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit.”
Achieving this increase means ensuring that the customer feels respected, understood, and important. The customer must believe that the service professional is confident, caring, and capable. Put simply, service professionals must be able to relate to the customer. Doing so means following three principles:
Own The Issue
Customers are often shuffled from one service professional to another. As a result, most businesses have a first-call resolution rate of only 40%. Effective services professionals take responsibility and own the issue. Doing so minimizes the effort required from the customer.
Authenticity means speaking to the customer as a person. Authenticity is also about being natural even if doing so does not come naturally. It’s about having a genuine interest in the customer and curiosity for learning about them and solving their problems.
Understand, Then Solve
In the rush to serve the customer it is easy to fall into the trap of diagnosing the problem before fully understanding the reason for the customer’s call. Only when the problem is fully understood can the service professional outline a clear and specific plan for a resolution.
Refocus on Soft Skills
Soft skills are the competitive advantage of the 21st century. Why? Because affordable, efficient technology has brought businesses to a point where faster is no longer the advantage it once was.
Therefore, soft skills like effective communication, adaptability, and cooperation have become a differentiator. Refocusing on these skills means doing three things:
Personalize The Experience
A personalized customer service experience is rare event. Customers are often pushed through a matrix of yes/no questions to arrive at a prepared response that falls short of a solution. A personalized experience recognizes the customer’s need, challenge, or question.
Be Curious To Exceed Expectations
Customers rarely volunteer more information than is necessary to reach a resolution. Therefore, the service professional has a responsibility to reveal broader needs. They can do so by asking questions that foster openness on the part of the customer.
Remember To Empathize
Empathizing means doing more than simply acknowledging the customer’s challenges. Service professionals must also understand what the customer feels and thinks. The service professional’s behaviors must not be manipulative or appear self-serving. It must be genuine. ________________________________
The distraction of global business disruptions have put distance between the business and the customer. Now is the time for service professionals to use their direct access to the customer to bridge that gap. Doing so means seeing the entire customer, delivering a heightened experience, and refocusing on soft skills.
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