Re-opening requires more than a return to normal. Businesses will still need to address the changes to economic activity, changing cultural norms, societal values and behaviours , writes customer loyalty expert Craig Cherry.
To re-open and to out-manoeuvre uncertainty also requires a program of reinvention as confirmed by Accenture in 5 Priorities to help reopen and reinvent your business
Right now, in the current global situation, it can be easy to think the rules of reopening and building a successful business has changed.
While much has altered in the way we work, some for the better, keeping the customer at the centre of your business has not changed and is more important than ever.
We can still be of service to our customers and support them in a meaningful, human, and relevant way.
Re-opening provides you with an opportunity to recreate your customer service standards.
Every touchpoint with your customer that leaves a lasting positive or negative impression.
10/10 Is All About Delivering A Positive Feeling
It is important to consider how people feel when you engage them whilst selling your product or a service.
For example, one of our clients sells large diesel engines. When we spoke to their customers we noticed that the customers who gave the highest Net Promoter Scores were the customers that said:
“I felt like they really listened to me”
“I felt like they explained things clearly”
“I felt well taken care of”
These customers actually mentioned the feelings in the research findings.
So, take on that you ‘sell a feeling’ not just a product or service and think about what you will do to create a positive feeling for your customers.
Customers form many impressions about your customer service before any direct interaction with staff takes place.
This includes how they feel about you and your business.
Service from a distance – 80 per cent of their buying decision is made before you serve your customer.
Have you considered and addressed the emerging expectations of your customers?
Put yourself in the customers shoes, what is important to you when choosing a business to purchase from in these uncertain times?
I know that I would want myself, my family, my colleagues, and my friends to be well taken care of.
Not just from a service perspective but more importantly, I would want to be assured that the business I choose to do business with, can take good care of their customers wellbeing, especially if coming into contact with their stores, restaurants, and teams.
How will you take care of your customers and earn their trust in doing so?
What new services, procedures or standards have you put into place in preparation for re-opening that will benefit your customers? What is different? How have you and your business evolved during COVID?
It is critical as a business that your first touch point from a distance lets your customers know how you intend to take care of them and what you may need from them to support you in doing so.
If your customers are ordering or making a booking on the telephone this is an ideal opportunity to explain what may have changed and what you may need from them so that they will feel well taken care of.
Clearly state your new customer care standards but keep your message light and easy to understand.
By doing so customers are left with the experience that they are valued, appreciated and that you care about their wellbeing, especially in this current situation.
Some examples below:
- we are limited to 20 people so your booking today will ensure your table
- we will need you to fill out a form including you address whilst you are dining with us
Make it easy for your customers to re-choose you and purchase from you
By the time your customers arrive at the counter, customers have nearly always made several important evaluations of the service, perhaps even prejudging it.
Customers assess staff in two ways:
From a distance (e.g. as they approach the counter) and closer up (e.g. while they are being served).
From a distance they form a number of impressions. These initial impressions may be even more significant than the service itself, which can be very brief.
Initial evaluations certainly create expectations of the service that will follow. Good or bad impressions can effectively form the basis of customers’ judgments of staff performance, as well as your own.
Customers judge you on three things
The moment a customer interacts with you whether on your website, on the telephone, or at the counter it is important that you leave a positive impression.
Don’t take for granted that your customers know your priorities and the standards you have put into place to ensure your customers excellent experience on their first visit back.
Which leads me to a story about a car repair chain I worked with some time ago.
What Are You Doing That Your Customers Are Not Aware Of?
As part of our customer care service standards we used protective coverings when working on our customers’ cars; steering wheel, seat, and floor covers.
We took them off once the repairs were done and before the customer arrived for pickup.
When researching our customers what we realised was not once did our customers speak about the protective coverings.
Our customers did not know the level of care we were committed to and no one spoke about it, simply because we did not tell them.
So, we changed the process. We left the protective covers on the car and removed them just before the customer jumped into the driver’s seat and drove away.
This change in our service standard resulted in our customers experiencing a new level of ‘wow factor’, they were surprised and delighted that we would take so much care with their cars and this created a conversation those customers were having with others.
As a consequence, this is what we became famous for
So again I ask you, what are you doing that your customers are not aware of and how can you use these service standards to create a new level of ‘wow factor’ for your customers’ that they will share with others?
What are you famous for?
The following information is relevant if you are in Retail, Hospitality or any other industry where your customers will come into contact with you face to face.
80 per cent of the customer experience can occur before they get served, we call this SAPP.
Space – Ambience – People at a Distance – People Close Up
Space: Location; Traffic Flow; Personal Space
Is there plenty of parking? Is it easy to enter the business? Does it follow a logical traffic flow? Does it allow for personal space etc?
Customers can be frustrated before they are served if these things are not right.
Ambience: Colour; Lighting; Music; Nice Touches
These all create an initial feeling. Does your music match the feeling you want to create or are you playing the radio which could have advertising of competitors?
People at a Distance: Personality; Attitude; Appearance
Personality – Is this person caring, motivate, attentive, warm, and friendly?
Attitudes – Does this person enjoy serving as well as enjoy their job? Are they confident and well-trained? Is there a good relationship between staff and employees?
Appearance – Is this person well-groomed and clean? Do they have tidy habits?
People Close Up: Relationship skills; Product Knowledge; Technical skills
Relationship skills – Posture, Eye-Contact, Facial expression
Product Knowledge – do you know your product? Can you answer product related questions?
Technical skills – can you use the cash register; can you use all technically related tools and systems that are required within the transaction?
Your team members must be well-trained in all these areas and good at these skills, it is not enough to be a nice person.
Think about the best person on your team to meet and greet your customers. Teams are made up of many individuals and different skill sets, all come together to create the whole.
Who is the person or persons on your team that shine in the area of customer engagement?
They are bright and uplifting naturally in their manner and tone of voice.
They have great posture stand upright and directly face the customer when meeting and greeting
They naturally hold eye-contact
They smile with a natural toothy smile
They are well groomed
They have a great personality and people skills
It is important at that this person or person/s is able to let your customers know:
The care you have taken
Any changes in the way your business now operates
What they can expect from you and your team
Remember you are ‘selling a feeling’ it must be consistent so; ensure you have your best people in the right places when interacting with your customers. Aces in the right places!
Let’s look at a restaurant as an example to show the different places (touchpoints) to help guide you in placing your best people in the right places and to maintain consistency.
- Wait or Servery person
- Drink runner or Bar person
- Food runner or Servery person
Security person if relevant
Remembering that inside of selling a feeling, and maintaining consistency, this feeling must include a strong finish – walk to the door, thank you customer and say good-bye.
In these early stages of re-opening our business let’s not forgot post service and the service standards that will ensure your customers experience is ongoing.
These may include:
- a thank you message – text or email
- a follow up call
- customer research program to capture feedback
Lastly, It’s About Everybody, Every time, No exceptions, No excuses
Re-Opening for Success and having your customers re-choose you and your business is about providing a high-quality service and an excellent customer experience every time.
Every touch point, by every employee, every day, without fail, no exceptions.
It is the consistency you and your team provide ‘every time’ that will not only have your business stand out but ensure your customers come back.