This post is from Cherryleaf guest blogger, Derek Bishop.
If ever there was a time to listen intensely to your customers, now would be that time. It has never been more important to really understand what the customer pressures, needs, wants and expectations are.
It is important to truly understand what’s driving the reason for their actions e.g. what is the real reason they are contacting you with queries, rather than just answering the queries. Understanding the customers emotional status and understanding how you can not only provide a good service but one that creates an emotional connection with their personal circumstances, is critical, so consider engaging a group of your customers in helping you shape what you do to meet and exceed customer expectations in these challenges circumstances.
Keep your customers informed
Depending on what sector you provide services in, the frequency of changing circumstances will vary. For example, if you provide products and services in the Financial Services marketplace, circumstances will be changing on a daily, or even hourly basis. This news being readily available to customers through a multitude of media means that customers will be responding quickly to those changing situations.
It is critical that customer facing teams are kept extremely up to date with what’s happening, how it may impact on customers and how to answer very specific questions. Remember, customers these days have a huge amount of information available to them from a variety of sources, which means the questions they will ask you are likely to be more in depth, and very specific to themselves. Keeping your front line staff in a position where they can confidently answer questions from concerning customers will naturally create a greater feeling of confidence for the customer, helping retention.
It is extremely important to pro-actively communicate with customers and help them through this traumatic time. Web sites will be receiving higher hits, and the refresh of the information should be increased in line with what customers are likely to expect from you. If they can’t find the information on the Web site, they will either make choices without the information or find out through different methods – all of which could have potentially a negative impact on your business.
Staff behaviour impacts the customer experience
Consider your customer facing staff – they are going through exactly the same pressures and challenges in the current climate and how they are feel, plus their views, will have a direct bearing on how they interact with customers. It is hugely important to engage with your staff and communicate actively with them. If your staff are extremely well informed, when they are interacting with your customers this will display confidence to the customers. Sadly, often communication drops at times like this, as Leaders are so busy working out what needs to be done, unfortunately communication is not seen as high enough in the priority list.
The risk of creating an unplanned negative affect on the customer experience is significantly higher in pressure periods like now – Leaders should ensure they are actively engaging and supporting their staff.
A Question of Value
With customers coming under financial strain, price will become an increasingly important factor, but service will still play a huge role. Organisations need to ensure they are delivering good value, and good customer service is a critical component in that.
Even with such price sensitivity, higher levels of customer service can make a huge difference to customers, with them potentially paying a slightly higher price just to have the confidence that they will be looked after that much better by you. Switching service providers just to save a small amount of money may be considered not worth it by many customers, as they will be moving from current good trusted service delivery to the unknown of a new provider, all to save a small amount of money.