Friday, May 10, 2013

Customer Experience Lessons from Mom

Image courtesy of Cellnique
In honor of Mother's Day this weekend, I thought this was a fitting time to share some customer experience lessons from Mom. 

It's been a while since I've done a "Customer Experience Lessons from..." post. I enjoy writing them, so I'll be doing more of them real soon.

As I'm writing my blog, I often weave in stories about my kids - lessons I've taught them or conversations we've had that seem to apply equally to this world of customer experience. Time to put them all together in one place. So here goes...


If you ignore him, he'll go away.

Yup, if you ignore your nagging brother so he doesn't get a rise out of you, then he'll go away. Guess what? If you ignore your customers, nagging or not, they'll go away, too!

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

The Golden Rule. Clearly, this is the one secret ingredient to a great customer experience. This should be the first sentence in every new-hire training manual.

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. 
You get more flies with honey than with vinegar.

These two get to the same point. Choose your words wisely. Be polite. Be kind. Be respectful. This is an important rule to follow when it comes to how to interact and communicate with your customers. And this might be a good time to add that bashing your competitors is not a marketing strategy.

Look both ways before crossing the street.

This one might seem odd, but I think it applies well here. The street is your journey, the both ways you'll want to look: at your customers and at your employees. Both experiences are important to the success of the business.

Actions speak louder than words.

Don't pay lip service to improving the customer experience and never do it. Don't apologize for a service failure and then refuse to correct the issue. If you say you're going to do it, do it. Better yet, just do it - then you don't have to say it.

If your friends jump off a cliff, will you jump, too?

Just because your competitors do something a certain way doesn't mean you need to. Just because it works for your competitors does not mean it is suitable for you. Everyone wants to model Zappos, but you can't be Zappos. Your organization and your culture is different; we can learn a lot of Zappos, but we cannot replicate their culture within our organizations. Why not innovate and offer some new approaches to products, services, and your customer experience. What makes your brand unique?

If you make a promise, keep it.

Your brand promise is, well, a promise to your customers. Everything you do should reflect this promise. Consistency is key. It sets expectations and defines the benefits customers can expect to receive when they engage in your services or use your products, when they experience your brand.

Don’t slouch; sit up straight.

This one is simple: presentation is everything. Dress well. Make sure your facilities are clean. Here's a great example: send your plumbers out clean shaven and smelling good, a la Mike Diamond.

It doesn’t matter who started it, you end it.

Don't argue with your customers. The customer isn't always right, but you must always do right by the customer. You'll gain way more by doing right than by arguing and blaming.

Work it out; I'm not going to fight your battles for you.

Empower your frontline or customer-facing staff to resolve issues - on their own. Consider Ritz-Carlton. They allow employees to spend up to $2,000 to make a situation right with a customer, without having to get it blessed by a supervisor first.

Answer me when I ask you a question!
 Look at me when I'm talking to you!

I'll combine these two because they have similar implications - namely, when there's a customer standing in front of you, he should be the only thing you're focusing on. When a customer asks a question, submits a query, or needs help, answer him. Be timely and responsive. Ever heard of "the 10 and 5 rule?" When a customer is 10 feet away, acknowledge him with a wave or a smile; at 5 feet away, say, "Hello."

Money does NOT grow on trees.

This is true. Money doesn't grow on trees. And there's no other way your business will survive if it scares away its only source of money: customers. Customers pay the bills.

You have an answer for everything, don't you?

Good, bad, or indifferent, sometimes you need to just be quiet and listen.

"I don't know" is not an answer.

If you don't know the answer, go find out. Customers don't want non-answers.

Is that a promise or a threat?

Mean what you say. Say what you mean.

What's the magic word?

Always say "please" and "thank you." Especially "thank you." Never forget to thank your customers for their business.


There are a lot more, but this blog post can only be so long! One of the things my mom said a lot when I was younger was, "You need that like you need a hole in your head." Still makes me laugh today. Wish I could have worked that in here somehow!

What sage advice has your mom given you that you've been able to apply at work every day?

Happy Mother's Day!

9 comments:

  1. If you don't ask you won't get

    Don't be on the back foot your customers will give you their business, but sometimes you have to ask for it

    From my own mothers school of tough love

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love it! Thanks for adding those, James.

      Annette :-)

      Delete
  2. Your mother must have been a soul sister of my mother!
    I grew up hearing everyone of these comments. And they
    are so applicable to our customers and how we treat them. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw! Thanks for your comment. And you're welcome!

      Annette :-)

      Delete
  3. "The customer isn't always right, but you must always do right by the customer."

    Many times call center agents are getting yelled at for something that isn't their fault. But you can't take it personally and lose your cool. No, they may not be right but you still have to behave!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dan,

      Good point. Even if you believe the customer is not right, you need to maintain your composure and handle the situation professionally. If you're not sure how to handle it, escalate it. But any good organization will provide guidelines for employees - or if no guidelines, then the "permission" to do what it takes to delight the customer.

      Annette :-)

      Delete
  4. When a customer is 10 feet away, understanding customer experience acknowledge him with a wave or a smile; at 5 feet away, say, "Hello."

    ReplyDelete