Archives for April 2012

What’s Your Number?

Or more to the point.  Where’s your number.  Your 800 number, that is.

I was having a conversation this week about access, accessability and engagement across channels.  And, the conversation turning to such tactical subjects as the placement of the customer service phone number on a brand’s website.

It may not seem like a big deal.  But, the placement of that number, and the ease with which your customers can find it, can contribute greatly to the customer experience.  Particularly, if the rest of your web site tends to leave your customers with more questions than answers.

So, I just did a brief scan of a handful of brands that are typically associated with exceptional customer experience.  The results are pretty clear.

At the top of the home page 
Zappos
Dell Support
Direct TV
eBags

At the bottom of the home page
Best Buy
Norstrom
Apple
The Gap

And get this.  Google “USAA” and you don’t even need to go to their website.  Their 800 number shows up in the search results!

So, is there a correlation?  This wasn’t a scientific research study.  But, odds are, if you make it easier for your customers to connect with you, how they desire, you can only improve your chances of a happy customer.  What you do with that connection to further the positive experience is up to you.

Next up.  Your “Contact Us” page.  What is should be used for?  How it can be more social?  And what is it saying about your brand?

What Would Your Customer Service Reps Say?

Does your company regularly solicit your employees’ feedback on their views of the company?  How is it done?  How often?  Is it through controlled surveys? What are the dimensions across which you’re looking for feedback?  What does your executive team do with that information?  Does your company leadership know the biggest driver of employee loyalty?

I ask these questions for two reasons.  I’m in a business that has a reputation for high employee turnover, low job satisfaction and not much loyalty towards the company for which people work.  I refer particularly to those people on the front lines.  The life blood of the company that do the real work every day.

Today, I was digging through some boxes as I’m moving my office and came across a book that contains unfiltered open-ended employee commenary about a company.

Here’s a sample:

  • Since the first day, I’ve felt like I was part of a family
  • I strive to embody the company’s values, but I’m not perfect. 
  • What separates us from every other company? You actually WANT to go above and beyond
  • Its a place where I feel I can be me.
  • I find myself using our values to make decisions outside of work
  • Here you can share your ideas with everyone
  • I have never felt so accepted
  • Everyday I wake up thinking I’m the luckiest person on Earth
  • Its about the way we treat eachother
  • Its about believing we can accomplish anything
  • We always take the positive road

All of these comments came from employees at one company.  Can you guess which one? 

What’s stopping your customer service employees (and all your employees for that matter) from saying such things about you?

Post script: If you’re in a position of leadership within your organization, you may not be able to get here overnight.  But, this is a good starting point.

“I Wanna Be Like Zappos!”

Yes.  I’ve actually heard that more than once from business executives over the past two years. 

Though, unlike Gatorade’s famous “Be Like Mike” campaign, that set countless playground hoopsters up for disappointment, being like Zappos isn’t impossible.  But, it does take more than buying a bottle of sports drink (or a pair of shoes) to replicate Zappos’ success.  And, it also requires stopping some of the things that will prevent you from ever realizing this goal.

To help, here’s a list of Do’s and Don’t for giving your organization some reasonable chance of becoming Zappos:

DON’T

  • Continue to cut your customer service budget year over year over year
  • Continue to funnel those dollars into your ad budget
  • Hide your 800 number; on your website, on your packaging, anywhere
  • Give your customers a reason to have to call customer service
  • Outsource your customer service to save money
  • Have customer service report to Marketing, Finance, Operations or anyplace else but your CEO
  • Evaluate customer service rep performance based on average handle time
  • View customer service as a function.  Its a culture, a strategy and a business model

DO

  • Well…the opposite of all those things you just read
  • …and
  • Outsource other stuff like Finance and HR (and insure that your partners are contributing to your customers’ positive experience, not eroding it.  Yes, these functions matter in the customer experience.  Where do you think most customer dissatisfaction starts?  Its not in customer service)
  • Fix said upstream issues that are driving customers to call you or tweet bad things about you
  • Invest the savings and efficiency gains from outsourcing these non-core functions into your customer experience design and execution
  • Fly to Las Vegas and tour Zappos headquarters.
  • Read this book
  • Talk to your customers…no I mean really talk.  Remeber this commercial?
  • Look in the mirror

What else is your company doing that is inconsistent with delivering happiness?

Fix those and then…Zap!(pos).  You’re on your way.