Have you ever heard the phrase “the customer is always right”?
It was puzzling to me when I first heard it about 15 years ago because no one is ever right 100 percent of the time. What happens when an organization has done everything possible to make the customer happy yet the customer still complains? Is the customer always right then?
The short answer to that question is actually, “Yes!”. Here’s why.
There is a learning opportunity in every customer experience. You may feel that you’ve done no wrong but your customer may see it differently. Are you actively listening to what you customer is saying so that you can improve his or her experience?
I experienced this first-hand recently when I ordered a product from a local brand. I believe in supporting local businesses and had been following this brand for awhile on social media. It just so happened that I began to have a need for the product being sold and I decided to place an order.
Here’s how the conversation went when I placed the order via Instagram.
“Hi. I would like to order one of your [name of item removed for confidentiality purposes]. What’s the cost?”
“Hello. Good afternoon. Thank you for contacting [name of company removed]. Please see cost below.”
An image outlining the costs is shared. The two options presented are for plain colors only or plain colors with a pattern.
“Thank you. How do I order a [name of product]?”
“We are an online store operating from Kingston. We have the following delivery options.”
An image showing the delivery options is sent. I choose my preferred delivery option.
“Can you tell me the two colors of your choice please?”
I send the colors and we have a discussion to narrow down the specific color I’m seeking.
“Please send me the name and number for the person collecting. Payment Option: Transfer to Bank Account.”
I provide the requested details.
“How soon will [name of product] be ready?”
“Will be ready by Tuesday.”
-End of conversation.-
Notice that there was no discussion about size. I am a first-time customer who knows nothing about the ordering process. This point becomes important as I go further into the story.
Tuesday came and I didn’t receive a message about my package being delivered. At 9:58 am on Thursday of the delivery week, I sent a message asking if the product is ready. I’m told that it would be sent by Monday of the following week.
Red flag number one.
If I hadn’t inquired, nothing would have been said to me.
So, I collected the package the following Tuesday. I opened it and was shocked (and even a bit upset) by the size. There was no way that would fit me. I had bought similar products in stores and they all came in smaller sizes that fit me well. This was completely different.
I immediately contacted the person I had been speaking with and expressed my concern. I even asked if I could return the item but then decided against it since I really wanted to support the business. Instead of truly listening to what I was saying and accepting that her ordering process for first-time customers is broken, she said, “That’s the standard size we sell hon. Probably you should have indicated that you wanted a really small one.”
That’s when I realized it was pointless having a conversation with her. She wasn’t listening. Couple that with the fact that she had been calling me “hon” from our initial conversation and my anger was starting to rise. I find it really annoying when people I don’t know call me “hon” and how she was using it made it seem like she thought I was an idiot.
I thanked her for the product, commended her for the quality (I had to find some positive in the situation) and ended the conversation. She just lost a customer. I will never order from her again and will never recommend her business to anyone else.
This experience caused me to seriously reflect on how organizations approach their customer experience. I am not perfect and have made my fair share of mistakes as the owner of CEM Writing Services. However, my experience has taught me five powerful lessons about creating a great customer experience, even when you think you’re right.
I’m sharing these five lessons with you today. Feel free to leave a comment at the end of this blog post to let me know your thoughts.
Get Feedback from At Least 90% Of Your Customers
It’s always great to strive for 100 percent customer feedback. However, it isn’t always possible because you may lose contact with customers and some customers may not respond to your questions or complete your feedback form. Still request feedback anyway!
I lead a B2B brand that has one product and several services. How I approach getting feedback from both sets of customers is slightly different but the prevailing principle remains – I reach out to them to find out what I did right and what I need to work on.
At least 90 percent of the people who have purchased a copy of The Business Playbook have received a link to this feedback form. Click here to view it. Typeform is a great survey creation platform to use for creating attractive surveys. I’ve been using it for about two years and absolutely love it.
You can also create a Typeform that you can send to your customers. This is especially true if you own an eCommerce business that sells through social media and, therefore, doesn’t have a platform where people can leave reviews.
Another strategy I use with my CEM Writing Services clients is to send them three mid-project feedback questions. I offer writing services and prefer to get feedback mid-way through a project so that I can make the adjustments necessary to help the client have a great experience.
I’ve adjusted my mid-project questions (and added another) so that I could share them with you. You can view them in the image carousel below. They are simple questions customers can quickly answer so that you get a feel of what they really think about your brand.
Pay Attention To What People Are Saying About Your Brand Online
Comments on your social media posts and online reviews aren’t the only way to see what customers are saying about your brand online. People may mention your brand in articles or even on posts on their own social media pages.
How do you find these mentions and content? Here are some free tools that you can use:
- Google Alerts – You can ask Google to send you an alert anytime content pops up about your brand on Google.
- TweetDeck – This tool was made specifically for tracking multiple searches and conversations about your selected keywords on Twitter.
- Technorati – You can use Technorati to search millions of blogs for mentions of any keyword or phrase you enter into the search field.
A great paid tool that you can use is Mention. It allows you to monitor conversations about your brand on blogs, social media, review sites and forums. The data is then aggregated so that you can analyze it and make informed decisions.
Act on Your Newfound Knowledge
It’s one thing to get feedback from customers, but it’s another thing to act on it. Your brand will only improve if you implement strategies to act on what you’ve learnt from customer feedback and what is being said about your brand online.
Sure, it bruises our egos when people throw criticism at us. However, what matters is how we respond to that criticism. What lessons can we take from it so that we can make our brands better?
How you handle growth opportunities is one of the factors that will determine whether your business succeeds or fails. Paying attention to what your audience and customers are saying is a tremendous growth opportunity. use it wisely to take your brand to the next level.
Hire Customer Service Professionals
I can already hear you saying, “I don’t have time for this!” You’re already busy focusing on improving your product and attracting customers. Where are you going to find the time to look at and interpret the results of feedback forms and online brand conversation tools?
It’s probably time for you to invest in a customer service team. I have a friend who works online as a virtual assistant. He recently got a job that pays a rate of 300 USD per month for one hour a day of responding to customer queries sent via email or social media. That is relatively cheap and something a growing business can afford.
You could hire a virtual assistant for one hour of work per day to monitor the responses from your feedback forms and online brand conversation tools. This assistant can then collate the results weekly and present them to you in a report. All you’ll then have to do is take useful information from the report and use it to make the necessary changes to your business.
Train Your Team to Put the Customer First
Each team member plays an important role in helping your customers have the best possible experience. It’s important for you to ensure that your team:
- Understands your target customer. How is your product addressing the customer’s needs? How would the customer respond in certain situations based on his or her education and economic background?
- Pays attention to even the smallest detail
- Understands what your brand stands for and the type of environment you’re trying to create for customers
- Is rewarded for excellent customer service
This doesn’t mean, however, that you should neglect your employees needs. Happy employees do lead to happy customers. But, your employees must also understand that making the customer happy is something our business values.
There is always something to learn from customer feedback and how your brand is being portrayed online. You can’t expect it to always be highly positive and shouldn’t get offended when something negative is said. Business growth occurs when you listen to criticism and make your brand better because of it.
Additionally, it’s important for you to hire the right customer service team and train your staff to put the customer first. Ultimately, a happy customers helps a business thrive and a thriving business can then support its employees in meaningful ways to make them happy. It’s an interlinked chain that can be torn apart if one end is weak.
Join us on June 27 for a free virtual networking session about creating an eCommerce business and effective social media marketing for your brand. More details are provided in the poster below. Please click the image, or the link below it, to be directed to the registration page. Registration closes at midnight on June 26.