Customers know what great customer service looks like, 68% will pay more for a product from a company with a good customer service record, and customers expect a seamless and excellent experience from your first responder employees. Despite all the reports that are created, and the numbers run, those analytics will only provide a general overview of their wants and needs. If you’re interested in a deeper understanding of the psyche of your customers, have a conversation with your frontline employees. They know the good, the bad and the ugly challenges that come from dealing one-on-one with customers every day and may open your eyes to new ideas, opportunities or small issues before they become bigger concerns.
Here are some exercises you can start to get first responder team members to discuss challenges and opportunities they are finding when dealing with customers:
Have a silent seat at the front line. Make sure your decision makers take a place at the front line at least once a quarter. If you have a call center, they should sit down with employees and listen to the calls. They should note any frustration that may be happening with the customer, process and the employee. Take notes about how things are going and what opportunities can be achieved with:
- System updates: Look for ways to improve record location in the system, how records are being entered or kept up to date and if information is utilized properly. If employees spend a lot of time looking for information or entering it, the information is not valuable in real time events.
- Empowerment: Understand the employee’s capabilities or their limitations and if either helps or hinders dealing with the customer’s request.
- Training gaps: Adding training or updates to training for subject matter or systems can help employees work smarter and better.
- CX Flow: Follow the process flow of the call and determine if it made sense from a customer experience point of view. Customers may be getting frustrated due to dealing with multiple systems and then having to repeat their issue and information over and over waiting for a live person or maybe what is categorized as one department in your IVR really should go to another to get solved.
Walk the floor with contractors. If your company hires third-party vendors, and they have direct or indirect contact with your customers, make sure you get out there and deal with the frontline similar to the way you deal with your own employees. In your customers’ eyes, these employees are an extension of your service, so if there are opportunities for them to provide even better customer experiences, your decision makers can help be a guide. Your decision makers may know about training or solutions that already exist that will make customer interactions more seamless between your vendors and your customer service.
Initiate honest idea cultivation with the frontline. You want to brainstorm with staff that have the most interactions with customers, whether they are your employees or a third-party business partner. You also want to make sure their answers are not skewed because of the decision maker’s stature in the company. It is quite common for employees and staff of partners to put on the “everything is going great” face for senior level executives because they’re afraid any other answer may get them in trouble. Or the stress of seniority staff may have them drawing a blank. Using an external moderator that can help guide the questions but also allows for staff anonymity may give you more honest answers and provide the information you need to give your customers a great experience.
Reward the frontline for their participation. Make sure you appreciate those who share their time and ideas to make the business better. Recognize the staff members for their contribution and encourage change and new ideas with rewards. Consider providing lunch, certificates, prizes or gift cards. If ideas save the company money, recognize those that helped bring it to reality and share some of the benefits with employees.
When 92% of customers say they would stop purchasing from a company after three poor customer service experiences and 26% of those would stop after just one bad experience, you know that your customer service can make or break your business. The easiest way to get to the root of most of those issues is to go straight to the source, your first responder staff, and empower them to make changes that will improve the customer experience.