How often have you, as a consumer, grumbled about a not so great customer experience? Have you ever purchased a product or service that did not meet your expectations? Was the service provider a little curt during the transaction? Has it ever been difficult to locate items you wanted to purchase on an online website? Have you ever experienced an issue that was resolved in a less than timely manner?
These are just a few scenarios that can cause a customer to refrain from doing business with your company.
Now think about how you felt during these situations and then examine your company from yourcustomer’s perspective. Here are four ways to get started:
1. Call your company.
What do customers encounter when they call your business? Is your receptionist robotic or pleasant, professional and courteous? Did you know that your receptionist or answering service serves as the face of your organization? Therefore it is important to put the right person on the front lines of initial customer interactions.
What about your interactive voice response (IVR) system? Are your call center menus user-friendly or do you become confused or worn out in the first minute of calling your offices? If it’s confusing to you, it’s probably confusing to your customer.
2. Visit your company.
Okay. So you may be thinking to yourself, “Errol, I’m already here at my organization!” Yes, but start your visit with your customer in mind … where a physical visit starts for your them.
For example, usually when a customer physically visits your business, their experience begins outside and down the street. Consider this: Can they easily spot your company’s signage? What condition is your business signage in? Is your signage visible during evening hours?If you own an online business, is your website easily searchable? Could your logo and overall branding benefit from a redesign?
The next step for most customers (if you have a physical location) is your parking lot — what condition is it in? Is your business area well-lit for evening hour customers? Depending upon your industry, the distance from the parking lot to your entrance could be problematic (e.g. inadequate parking, unkept and unclean outside areas). Consider how you can improve the exterior experience for your customer.
Now, let’s go inside. What does the customer see upon entering your front door? Is your store or office designed with your customer in mind? Is it easy to locate products or specific areas in your store (online or offline)? If it is difficult for you, it’s more than likely a headache for your customer.
3. Visit your company’s website.
Take time to review your customer service experience. How often do you view your company website (as a customer)? Have you reviewed your website’s user experience — attempted to make a purchase?
Did you receive an order confirmation after your purchase along with an anticipated delivery date? Did you receive a follow-up email providing tracking information? Are products and services easy to locate on your website; is your web content up-to-date? Are all of your hyperlinks fully functional?
If your website offers live chat is the “conversation” tone friendly and upbeat? Does the chat operator quickly address your questions?
Whatever you experience, your customer is experiencing the same.
4. File a customer complaint.
Can customers easily file a complaint with your company? If so, can they easily submit their concerns via your toll-free number, website, email or live chat? Keep in mind, if you don’t provide an outlet for your customers to express their frustrations, they’ll find another place to vent.
Take your support or help desk for a test drive. How long does it take for your customer complaint to be acknowledged? What type of follow-up questions does your team ask? What steps are taken to resolve your complaint and how long does it take?
Remember, it’s important to know what your customer experiences when interacting with your company. To get their perspective and improve your business, put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
Speaker, author and consultant Errol Allen is the founder and CEO of Errol Allen Consulting, a Houston, Texas based company that provides customer service training, customer service strategy development and supervisor/management training. He utilizes his 25 years of hands-on experience in assisting his clients in creating customer focused organizations.