So often organisations spend a huge amount of time, effort and money in things that have no bearing on the customer’s emotions (perhaps like advertising), and precious little on the things that do (perhaps like answering the phone quickly and efficiently, or essentially training and incentivising their people to ’make people’s day’). This is because they haven’t thought this through, aligned processes around delivering emotional needs above all else and haven’t got a system to keep listening to the customers (at the deeper level).
They have designed their systems around all the old ‘sales and marketing’ rules that applied before the customer was truly empowered by the Internet. Customers now have almost unlimited choice, and they will gravitate to suppliers who focus obsessively on blowing their socks off consistently and continually through attention to their REAL needs.
So, all you need to do, in order to deliver a consistent and continually improving customer experience, is to think through what emotions your customer will display if you get it very right (ie: deliver your CFM), then align all strategy, processes and behaviour around generating this … and then keep listening, evolving and improving.
Not always as easy as it sounds…
Example to illustrate
A doctor’s surgery had a problem with long wait times for patients.
Despite the best planning, very careful attention to ensuring that appointments were made at suitable intervals, and all patients being screened at the time of booking, appointments always overran, patients had to wait, and high levels of frustration were experienced.
After careful consideration and consultation, this problem was addressed by focusing on the customers’ REAL needs:
They actually understood that other appointments could overrun, and they might have to wait: they REALLY wanted to feel valued and cared for when this happened!
A simple, no cost solution to a large problem that could have had a lot of money thrown at it to try and ’solve’ it! And of course: common sense!
- patients were warned in advance that waits could happen
- when a doctor was running late, the patient was apologised to, given a clear timescale, offered a refreshment, and even offered an appointment with a different doctor (if available)
- when this patient saw the doctor, the doctor started off by apologising for the delay, and assuring them that this would not affect the amount of time they had with them
- on leaving the surgery, the patient was again apologised to, and asked if everything had been addressed as required (using the Great or Poor score)
By taking these simple steps, customer experience improved dramatically, and patients left much happier. It also had the knock-on effect of reducing delays, as patients began to understand the effect they had on other patients if they took too much time from the doctors! Truly, a win-win all round, simply by focusing on the common-sense principle of the customer’s REAL needs.
What you can do to ‘make it real’
You need to ask:
- What are my customers’ REAL needs in my organisation?
- How do they change depending on circumstance?
- How can I address these better than my competition?
- Where are my moments of truth?
- Am I continually looking for them and putting improved systems and processes in place to ensure the customers’ real needs are continually addressed by them?
- Are the processes that I’ve got here, is the strategy that I am employing, are the resources in place, are the systems, and is my people’s behaviour enabling my customers to trust me and am I giving them individual attention and making their lives easier or better?
Because if the answer to any of these is no, your customers will be looking for a different supplier.
Start by having a meeting and asking all your people these questions. Then develop your ‘Go the extra inch’ processes as suggested, to produce ongoing consideration of this critically important question in all that you do.
On an ongoing basis, whenever you have a problem to solve, think deeply, don’t just rush in to try and ’solve’ it: think:
- Who is the customer (or customers) in this situation?
- What exactly is the situation … underneath the noise?
- What are their REAL needs?
- What result are we all looking for?
- What information do we know?
- What information do we need to find?
- Who do we need to ask?
- How will we ask them?
- How will we put aside our own needs so we can best understand the customer’s?
- What resources have we got?
- What other resources do we need?
- Who else could help?
- How will we measure progress?
- When will we review?
- How will we know if this has been successful or not?
- What will we do if it is successful?
- What will we do if not?
This is the principle of slowing down and thinking deeply about issues and processes and aligning all solutions around your customer’s REAL needs.
At the same time, start gathering feedback inch by inch, as this will provide you with all that information that you aren’t currently aware of.
Slow Selling is a UK based not for profit organisation for leaders and managers in independent businesses.
Our systems deliver peace of mind and confidence to caring leaders and managers who have limited time and resources, and want to grow their business … all without sacrificing principles or profits.
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