It doesn’t matter that you have a great service or product. It doesn’t even matter that your potential customer needs it. When it comes to your marketing campaign, your message must engage the customer so that they understand, in their way, why they need your product/service.
Here are some ways to get your message heard and spark the “need” factor:
- Tell your story in an engaging way. Make it colorful, different and memorable.
- Highlight the benefits that are important to your potential customer, not necessarily the things that are important to you. For instance, it’s great that your shoes are scuff-proof, but if I only care that they are comfortable tell me more about comfort. Stop trying to make me care about scuffs.
- Show the specific need you answer as well as the impact on their general wellness.
- Acknowledge your competition and highlight the differences. This one is tricky because you don’t want to speak negatively about your competitors, you only want to point out your uniqueness.
- Use a customer-friendly tone. Avoid big words, jargon and by all means, condescending stereotypical language.
- Use testimonials of current customers that are similar to your target audience.
It’s more than the annoyance of prompts for an account number, zip code, phone number, pin number, birth date, last five digits of a social security number and your bra size (okay maybe not that one but you get the idea).
It’s the false sense of hope once a customer service rep answers. For a minute, customers believe that the rep has power to resolve an issue. They believe that the person will be able to listen to an issue and come up with a human-based answer, not an automated, scripted one.
However, customers soon realize the rep is just a live version of the automated help maze. They see that the person on the line has little to no power, because they are not trained to use their judgment to make a decision. They must rely on scripts and cookie-cutter answers for questions that are not cookie-cutter.
If your company is going to hire people for customer service, empower them to make decisions (Zappos is my favorite example of this). If you don’t feel your reps can handle making decisions, then hire new people with competent judgment skills. Stop giving your customers a false sense of hope when they hear a person. It’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to your reps that have to deal with irate customers.
Here are other things you can do to improve the customer service experience:
- Don’t ask customers to repeat the information they just entered into your automated system.
- Use a CRM (customer relationship management) system to record your customer’s history. That way your customers won’t have to rehash previous problems or conversations with other reps.
- Insist that all reps are nice to clients (And no, this is not a given. I’ve had reps hang up on me and I was not irate).
- If you are going to use a survey to evaluate your efficiency, use questions that will offer productive feedback. Instead of “Were you happy with your service today?” try “What part of your experience could have been better?”
- Hire happy people.
- Monitor what people are saying about you online (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
- Don’t use generic answers (e.g. Our policy states…).
- Find reasons to say yes to customers’ requests.
The other night I was shopping when a cashier gave the twenty-minute warning. You know the “XYZ store will be closing in 20 minutes. Please bring your final selections to the register” warning.
This sounds like a reasonable request, right? Yeah, I thought so, too. That was until I got to the checkout area.
First of all, there was only ONE register open, but there were FOUR employees organizing merchandise on the floor. Okay, do they not see the long line wrapped around the magazines? Do they not see the customers looking at them like “WTF, open a register already.” Is there a reason no one can open another register?
Secondly, why does the cashier keep making those announcements every five minutes? Why is she rushing customers to get in line? Her line is already too long and the other employees are STILL organizing the floor… I mean it’s only been 10 minutes, but who’s counting?
And lastly, since when did it become more important to clean up the store than to service the customers? I mean really, can you fold those t-shirts when the line gets a little shorter?
Here’s the lesson. If you’re going to spend your time, money and energy designing a great store environment and marketing your products, take the time to provide a great shopping experience. And this experience includes everything – from the time your customers enter the store until the time they get in the checkout line until they leave your parking lot and carry your products home. And no one likes to hurry up and wait.
Towanda Long aka The Café Lady