Over the past three months, during the “normal” curtailment of customer activity, we noticed some pretty impressive upticks in customer love being demonstrated by some businesses, which was laudable. I’ve been on the lookout for businesses that have sustained a commitment to keeping their customers happy by delivering memorable experiences. Predictably though, some have begun to slip back to old habits of hit-and-miss service levels.
The really huge failing with customer experience and customer success is that many businesses do just enough to keep their customers from leaving. In the same way that employees who score three on a performance rating scale are really just doing enough keep themselves from getting fired, businesses with inconsistent service levels also score a three on the customer success scale. They, too, are doing just enough to keep themselves from being fired by their customers.
Going forward to the next normal, however, a three will no longer be enough to avoid customer flight. Businesses will need to invest more effort to achieve service consistency by completing the journey to customer success and not stop short of the objective to become well-oiled, “customer-serving machines.”
So, what is customer success? As Nick Mehta, the CEO of Gainsight says, “customer success is the business methodology of ensuring customers achieve their desired outcomes while using your product or service.” Meaning that customers should not only have experiences, but those experiences must be successful (delightful) before the score can move up from a three, to a four or five on the delight scale.
So here are some actions that influence a good flight path when a business decides to start its journey to customer success.
Hire Customer Champions. The right people in a business make all the difference to success. Employees need to be energetic, empathetic, great communicators, genuinely committed to helping others, quick thinkers, willing to challenge processes that are unfriendly and team players. Sounds like a long laundry list of must-haves, doesn’t it? But I tell you, taking the time to recruit an individual who meets these criteria, will be well worth the effort.
Focus On Employee Care. After you’ve recruited the best individuals who fit the customer champion profile, you don’t want to have them suffer in a business environment that is suffocating, unpleasant and un-progressive. Employees thrive in conditions that are personally and professionally enriching, so ensure that everything is done to create an atmosphere where employees feel psychologically secure, motivated, engaged and a sense of belonging. Achieving this is neither difficult, nor impossible. A good start is consulting employees to get bright ideas on matters that affect their lives and livelihoods.
Eliminate Business Inefficiencies. A business should do what it says it’s going to do and should do so within the agreed timeframe and in the agreed way. Four requisites for efficiency are high productivity, a sense of urgency, keeping promises and precision in execution. Nothing irks customers more than a business that cannot be trusted to deliver on its promise.
Engage Customers From The First Sale. Why not view customers through the lens of their Lifetime Value (CLV)? From the first sale, when a customer triggers his or her potential CLV, a business can begin to nurture a relationship that continues to deliver value so that both customer and business benefit over a lifetime of repeat purchases. In other words, customer centricity attracts the sale, an intentional customer experience builds the relationship and customer success is landed through shared and added value.
Build Customer Love. When a business sets its vision on making customers happy, a relationship dynamic is set in motion. The customer becomes the centre of attention. Two-way communication is put in place, customer comforts are envisioned, processes become friendly, pain points are either pre-empted, or resolved speedily, if and when they occur and nothing is too much trouble for the customer. Sounds like love, doesn’t it? When customers experience this delight, they do what any enamoured individual would do. They keep coming back for more love.
Be Obsessed With Measuring Customer Delight. Measure, measure, measure. If we don’t keep tabs on how well we’re doing with our customers, we are likely to miss early signs of dissatisfaction and unhappiness, curtailing the opportunity for early damage control. Real-time, up to date intelligence on “how well we’re doing” with our customers should be a priority for all businesses, since not all customers complain. Some just leave without saying goodbye. Customer feedback can be captured through on-spot conversations, surveys and focus group sessions. Gaining such insightful appreciation of what matters to the customer can activate more customer-friendly decisions.
Have Great Stories To Tell. Finally, when all is said and done, customer success is regaled in the rich stories that customers relate to anyone who is within earshot, such is the level of delight with their experiences.
When last I checked, the opportunity to serve customers in a unique, personal and memorable way was still available to all businesses.
Why not start your journey today?