Written by Sonal Jaiswal | Evangelist, Customer Guru
Today’s customers are more empowered than they were at any point in time. They are also more informed and educated than customers have ever been. In this extremely competitive market, where a customer has a multitude of options to choose from, customer service is the only differentiator. And only good customer service will not do! If one wants to be remembered and wants to gain a loyal customer base, one must provide EXCELLENT customer service. That is precisely the difference between good and amazing companies!
But, how do these companies consistently maintain the customer satisfaction levels? Here is a list of six habits that these amazing, customer-centric companies follow:
Customer-centric companies realise that happy and engaged employees lead to happy customers. They treat their employees as they’d want their customers treated! So, they ensure that they recognize, appreciate and reward their employees. For example, a simple ‘thank you’ card on an employee’s work anniversary can go a long way in keeping him inspired and motivated. Such companies don’t just focus on customer loyalty, they also celebrate employee loyalty! For example, HSBC has a scheme where it holds a ceremony to celebrate contributions of employees who have been with the bank for 5 and 10 years, making them feel tremendously valued.
Also, they understand that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Hence, they ensure that the employees have a healthy work-life balance. It is no surprise that the ‘Best Companies to work for’ list for a particular year and the ‘Most successful companies’ list for the same year almost always overlap. The better culture and environment a company creates, the more motivated its employees are to deliver their best! Google, for instance, ensures that its employees are provided with the best and healthiest of meals and are free to use the gyms and the bowling alleys. Yahoo! too provides its employees with facilities such as yoga, pilates, kickboxing etc.
Such companies also guarantee that their employees are free from the mundane worries of daily life and hence are able to concentrate on their work better. The employees of Johnson & Johnson have access to a concierge service which ensures that their daily chores are done on time. The chores could range from picking up clothes from the laundry to picking up and dropping books in a library.
These companies do everything in their capacity to empower an employee, trusting him to act in the best interests of the company. They let the employees take ownership of their tasks and feel responsible for making a customer happy. Zappos, the online shoe retailer is known for its legendary customer service. It is not very surprising that Zappos does not have any scripts for its customer service executives and does not have any time limits on the calls. The employees are free to do whatever it takes to delight a customer!
Such companies are aware that their employees are their assets. They understand that the more they invest in the employees, the more both, the company and the employees will grow. Hence, they invest heavily in training and development programs to keep the staff engaged and empowered. This not only improves the current job skills of the employees but also enhances their troubleshooting abilities. These organizations believe strongly that employee training is not a one-time thing, it is a continuous and constant process.
Such companies make all their decisions, from marketing to training and development, keeping the customer in perspective. Let’s take Amazon for an example. Its obsession with delighting its customers always is famous. But did you know that its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos is famous for leaving an empty chair at the conference table and letting attendees know it’s occupied by the “the most important person in the room” – the customer.
These companies understand that the needs and wants of customers keep changing. They are proactive in anticipating such changes and consequently are ready with products/services that will cater to these new needs. The Amazon kindle is the quintessential example of a product that is a customer’s demand.
In today’s times, the pace of life is so frenetic that consumers do not have a lot of time to spare and want everything expedited. Hence, such companies are always looking to simplify their processes to reduce the transaction time of the customer, making things more convenient and speedy for him. ‘Easy’ is a broad term that encapsulates a lot of ideas – being easily accessible, being easy to deal with, the products being easy to use etc.
Let’s have a look at Apple Inc. Apple is known to create magical experiences for its customers. Everything about Apple is not just about keeping the customers happy, it’s about absolutely delighting them! Apple’s mantra is simple – its products must be intuitive, simple and easy to use. Undoubtedly, they are! Pick up any Apple product and you’d see that you automatically know how to navigate through. You don’t know how that is happening, but within minutes, you are easily moving around screens, exploring all the choices you have and doing a damn good job at it!
Moreover, such companies have easy policies, that help save a customer’s time. Zappos has a very simple, no-questions-asked return policy. As strange as it sounds, Zappos encourages customers to order multiple sizes if they’re unsure of what to order. However, instead of looking at it as a cost, Zappos believes that this is an investment! An investment in absolutely delighting a customer!
Additionally, such companies are easily accessible – they are available on the social media, they reply to queries easily and they are just easy to get hold of.
Customer centric companies realise that trust is what essentially matters and that at the end of the day, building relationships is more important that making sales. They realise that open, honest and clear communication plays a big role in building trust.
Have you been to an Apple store ever? Have you noticed how the Apple representative not looking to make a sale but looking to help you as much as possible? That is what customer-centric companies do!
Ritz-Carlton is fanatical in the service it provides to its customers. Its service values clearly state: “I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.” Yes, it is looking to create loyal customers, not one time customers!
“Just as DNA is the foundational building block of all human bodies, so customer service is the foundation of any growing and evolving organization.” – Customer Service DNA: Building Blocks that Drive Customer Loyalty
These companies believe that customer experience is not a department, it is the entire organization itself! All employees – right from the senior management to the interns are aligned with the core values of customer centricity.
Are there any other such habits that customer-obsessed companies follow? Do let us know! Also, let us know your thoughts
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