Five Digital Customer Courtesies

Common customer courtesies are behaviors employees demonstrate that affect the customer experience. How customers feel they are being treated, greatly impacts whether they make a purchase and whether they return to make additional purchases. In fact, 70% of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they are being treated and being treated poorly is the number one reason customers leave a business. Most businesses understand the importance of treating customers courteously when they walk through their doors. Acknowledging and greeting customers and a friendly, helpful attitude lets a customer know you care about them. A genuine interest in helping a customer find what they need or solve a problem positively impacts a customer’s experience and decision to continue to do business with you. How does a business transfer courteous behaviors to digital interactions such as emails, web forms or text messages? Our company offers a two-way text channel to businesses and we have identified five basic customer courtesies businesses overlook that can positively affect digital interactions. Timely Acknowledgement Just as you pick up a phone call within a few rings or greet a customer when they walk in the door, a digital message should be acknowledged promptly and handled as soon as possible. Think about how it feels to walk into a business and no one acknowledges you. The same applies to a digital message. Personally acknowledge a digital message from a customer. Let the customer know that you are handling their message and when they can expect a response. Use the Customer’s Name in a Warm Greeting Online interactions have an advantage of coming with some information...

The Most Magical Customer Experience

What do you want to be when you grow up? Kids in my elementary classes would write down reasonable answers; a doctor, lawyer, mom, or teacher. My answer was a little far fetched. I wanted to be a princess and live where Mickey Mouse does. Even as a kid I wanted to live in the most magical place on Earth. Adults and children everywhere know that Disney is known as the most magical place on earth.Whether this is through movies, tv or other advertisements. Disney World is also associated with providing the best customer service. This reputation is what keeps Disney cast members working at Disney for years. The ability to provide a magical customer experience is what Disney is known for. This legacy was started by Walt Disney himself when he opened Disneyland in California. Allowing guests to feel the magic while interacting with cast members (Disney employees), is what keeps families coming back for years to come! The same effect happens to employees, they are inspired to work at Disney to provide quality experiences to families who visit. This past year, I was able to participate in the Disney College Program. Every semester Disney recruits around 3,000 college students to work at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. Each student is given a role, and works for the company during a semester of college. When I first heard about the program, I couldn’t pass it up. My role was merchandise and my location was Epcot in the World Showcase. I was able to learn about the Walt Disney Company and uphold the traditions that makes the Disney experience so...

The Hidden Costs of Bad Customer Service

Businesses can expect to encounter occasional service problems with their customers. It is estimated that U.S. companies lose $83 billion each year due to bad service. Some of the losses are obvious like giving refunds and losing the sale. Other costs may be less obvious but have longer lasting and often more significant impacts. Consider the example of a company that marketed and sold its products and service as the best in the industry. The company had production problems for two consecutive quarters and couldn’t deliver on those promises. Customers received extremely bad service. The hidden costs of the bad service will be felt by this business for several years to come. Internal Conflicts The company’s marketing department portrayed the company as the best in the business with the finest products and the highest level of service. Sales promised the finest products and best service. When operations couldn’t deliver, fingers pointed internally and adversarial relationships developed between departments. The company now has to spend time and resources to rebuild relationships and teamwork within the company. Employee Satisfaction These internal conflicts and haphazard attempts to resolve issues led to poor employee morale and the company is experiencing higher than usual employee turnover. The costs associated with hiring and training are significant. In addition, employee satisfaction is a leading indicator of customer satisfaction. If employees are not satisfied with their workplace, it will negatively affect customer satisfaction as quickly as within one quarter. Sales Process Existing customers are one of the richest sources of new revenue. According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to existing customers is 60-70% versus 5-20% for...

Cell Phones in Movie Theaters

Allowing cell phones in movie theaters was unheard of just a year ago but is now being considered by a major theater chain. Why? Customers and customer expectations are changing. So, what do my customers want? Business owners should be continuously asking themselves that question. Research has found that 80% of businesses believe they are providing superior customer service, while only 8% of their customers agree. That is a significant disconnect! I think this disconnect can be a result of the lack of understanding of the customer journey, the total sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company. There are many factors that continuously impact customer expectations with any business. One critical factor is customer age demographics. Millennial’s, Gen Y and Gen Z are growing age cohorts and will become the dominant groups by 2020. These younger generations have very different expectations than the Baby Boomers who have dominated. Take the recent announcement by executives at AMC Theater. They announced that they are considering allowing people to use their cell phones during movies as a way to appeal to younger movie goers. A second significant factor impacting customer expectations is technology, which is giving customers more control over their experience than ever before. Large businesses like Apple and Amazon are driving consumer expectations. Who doesn’t like Amazon Prime’s fast, free shipping! Businesses cannot compete on just the products or services they deliver. They must think about the entire customer experience from beginning to end. When doing this, many think in terms of touch points when they have specific interactions with customers. While these are important...

Do Businesses Really Care?

Several recent interactions with businesses have left me wondering if they care about about their customers. In one interaction, I called to arrange to have my deck refinished. I got a recorded message that they were busy with other customers, leave a message, and they would get back to me. It’s been a week and they have not called me back. In a second interaction, I called to check into my current pest control service and was 12th in the queue. I hung up, found their web form and sent my questions. It has been 2 weeks and no one has responded. I am AMAZED at the lack of response from these businesses and am left wondering if they really care about me as a customer. I’m sure they got my messages. Do they just not need or want my business? How Much Does Poor Service Cost? I went to a competitor (there are a lot of them) to arrange to have my deck refinished. They answered the phone and set me up within ten minutes at a cost of about $500. I am now among the 78% of consumers who have not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience. I plan to cancel my pest control service when I finally get someone on the phone. As an existing customer, I have a relationship with them and am worth more to them! Businesses have a 60-70% chance of selling to an existing customer but only a 5-20% chance of selling to a new customer. And, on average, a loyal customer is worth 10 times as much as their...

Why Online Ratings Don’t Tell the Whole Story

We’ve all read online hotel reviews prior to planning a trip. Those reviews are important to us as well as to hotel management. But beware!! If you look at the numeric rating but don’t spend time reading reviews, you may not be getting a true picture. A study by researchers at Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research recently published a study, “What Guests Really Think of Your Hotel: Text Analytics of Online Customer Reviews,” analyzing text from 5,830 TripAdvisor reviews for 57 different hotels. Business travelers were found to write the most online reviews and couples wrote the second most online reviews. The study found that negative comments carry a lot more weight in a guest’s rating than positive comments do. So averaging the positive and negative scores doesn’t provide a true picture of a guest’s opinion. The written review is much more valuable in understanding the guest’s true feelings about their stay. The study also found that guests value different things at upper tier hotels than they do at lower tier hotels. The guest experience strongly dominated reviews written about high-tier hotels while amenities and location come up more frequently for middle tier hotels. Value and the mechanics of a stay, such as check-in, were most commonly mentioned in lower-tier hotels. Can we extrapolate these findings to other businesses? Perhaps we can. It certainly makes sense that high-end retail customers are interested in the experience and relationship more than customers at lower-priced stores. And the intensity of a negative review may far outweigh the value of a typical positive review across most business segments. Surveys provide one level...