What are you afraid of this Halloween? That your customers might disappear like ghosts? That your competitors might pick them off like vultures? To avoid such grizzly outcomes, make sure that your customer experience isn’t shaped by any of these horrific practices – all of which are guaranteed to scare customers away:
Mistake #1: Respond to customer requests like a zombie.
Are your company’s responses to customer inquiries heavily scripted, like they came from some low-budget horror movie? Might your customers feel like no matter what they say, they get form letters and teleprompter-like messages in response?
When your staff engages with customers in a robotic fashion, your organization misses a huge opportunity to differentiate its brand experience. Without active listening, critical thinking and personalized problem solving, your employees will appear like zombies – and customers will surely run from them.
Mistake #2: Cut expenses and operate with a skeleton staff.
Particularly in times of economic distress, many companies’ first reaction is to slash investments in post-sale operations. Those areas are often not viewed as revenue-producing, and therefore they become easy targets when profits need to be propped up. But while skeleton staffs might offer some immediate gratification in expense reduction, they also foster negative impressions that could snuff out favorable brand impressions.
Bare bones operations translate into long checkout lines, miserable 800-line hold times, overall inattentive service, as well as visibly overworked and irritated employees. Those are hardly the ingredients for a great customer experience, nor is it an effective recipe for weathering a recession.
Mistake #3: Embark on monstrous transformation projects.
Business transformation is overrated. It’s good to have high aspirations and stretch goals, but you’ve also got to eat the elephant one bite at a time. Big, hairy, audacious projects have a tendency to be ill-defined and nearly impossible to manage. Plus, most companies suffer from “Organizational A.D.D.” and have trouble staying focused on a 3-month project, let alone a 3-year one.
Transformational projects make for good annual report copy, but they often fail to deliver valuable improvements to employees and customers. (Sometimes, all they deliver is disruption and dissatisfaction.) Yes, have a long-term vision – but never underestimate the power and efficiency of incremental advances toward that destination.
Mistake #4: Never do a post-mortem.
In the whirlwind of daily business activities, people rarely take the time to dissect and diagnose customer annoyances. Customer complaints present a wonderful opportunity to not just recover gracefully (and perhaps win back a consumer’s loyalty), but to also dig up the root cause of a problem and fix it, once and for all, so it never again rears its ugly head.
What’s even rarer than post-mortems on customer complaints? Post-mortems on customer compliments. There’s great value in pinpointing what person or thing generated a moment of customer delight, so you can then figure out how to replicate that outcome more routinely.
Post-mortems can yield silver bullet-like learnings that forever eradicate customer frustrations, or permanently institutionalize loyalty-enhancing business practices.
Mistake #5: Create a workplace that sucks the lifeblood out of people.
The customer experience and the employee experience are inextricably linked. Creating happy, loyal customers requires having happy, engaged employees.
If your company has a work environment where staff don’t feel appreciated, respected or well-equipped to do their jobs, then you’re certain to make their energy and passion disappear faster than a vampire at dawn. Customers will no doubt notice that difference in your staff, and it will have chilling effect on the amount of business they do with you.
Mistake #6: Don’t tell your customers what’s lurking around the corner.
A great customer experience is a lot about managing expectations. People’s frustration (or delight) with a business is closely linked to the expectations they had going in.
Customers don’t like ambiguity or unpleasant surprises. If you don’t tell them what to expect – how long they’ll be waiting, how much paperwork they’ll need to fill out, when their purchase will arrive, etc. – then they’re more likely to be annoyed when the experience isn’t as quick, simple or straightforward as they anticipated.
Mistake #7: Avoid ownership like the plague.
Is your company ghosting customers? Are people waiting interminably for a call back to address their request? Are employees failing to follow-up with customers when promised? Are commitments routinely falling by the wayside?
When a company and its employees shirk ownership, things get gruesome. That’s because all customers often want is someone to just step forward, say “I can help you,” and actually mean it.
No matter how beautiful your store, how friendly your staff, or how gorgeous your website – if your business isn’t infused with an ethic of ownership and accountability, then it will be forever cursed with excessive customer attrition.
No right-minded business sets out to scare its customers. But that’s inevitably the outcome when companies lose sight of what’s important and valuable to the people they serve.
Are you haunted by the prospect of your customers defecting to a competitor? Do something about it before your worst nightmares become a reality. Avoid these seven grave mistakes, and before you know it, you’ll be casting a spell on your customers that’ll have them coming back for more.
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