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Filling out questionnaires can be time consuming and it can take a lot of effort. For numerous companies, they use surveys as a way to “talk to customers”.
Normally after purchases are made, a visit
from the hospital or a service obtained, either you are asked to fill out a
survey or you get a random phone call. In reality this is not the right
approach in getting insightful feedback about your company. What you should be
doing is talking to customers face to face. Even though this might be costly
and takes up a lot of time, this is the only way to get honest answers. This
approach can be done through workshops.
Work For it
Conducting public workshops on strategic planning is an excellent method in figuring out what your customers want. It is about quality not quantity. Your goal is to learn how customers make decisions and how they problem solve. You need to understand their needs and wants and you can’t get any of that from a basic questionnaire. Start off your workshop by asking a question such as, “What makes you choose to go to one convenience store instead of the other?”, since every person has been a customer to a convenience store at least one point in their life. The responses that you would receive would be focused on where the store is located, the quality of their customer service, the variety of options that are available, how reasonable their prices are, and what time the store opens and closes. These factors are the strategic influences that different stores have. You can use these strategies to your advantage to develop more customer strategies and ultimately making your business stand out and have a competitive advantage. It is important to note that not one person can come up with all these factors since every person has their own unique experiences. It takes a group of people to come up with the conclusion of these strategies.
Surveys Are a No-No
A lot of companies think that surveys are
enough to understand their customers since it shows percentages of what people
like and dislike. However, surveys are unoriginal and does not give you a real
insight. Interviews are the best way to get thoughtful customer input.
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No matter how great your business or product is, there is always going to be dissatisfied customers here and there.
The Customer Is Always Right
The customer might be genuinely disappointed or could be displeased with a small issue. Any type of complaint should be handled carefully since every customer is important. If it is not handled carefully, you risk losing a profitable customer and they may leave a negative review on social media where it would influence others to avoid your company.
These are seven ways to effectively handle a customer complaint.
When a customer is angry with you, it is important to stay calm, not to rebuttal, and listen to what they have to say. Make sure not to admit that something is wrong when in fact it is not. The best to approach this is to recognize their feelings by saying statements such as, “I understand that you are very irritated about that”.
It is natural to feel defensive and
offended when someone is attacking you, but try your best to be objective. Do
not react emotionally, put your feelings aside and react in a way that is best
for your business. The best outcome when it comes to a customer complaint is to
wait till they have calmed down and come up with a solution that makes them
happy and ensures that they would come back. If anything, use the complaint as
feedback and implement it to your business to avoid the same complaint in the
To understand what has happened, calmly ask
the customer open-ended questions. Some examples of these questions are, “Can
you explain what happened?” or “When did the problem first occur?”.
Even if you think the customer is not
right, you have to make them feel that they are validated by empathizing with
them. Only when customers feel that they are listened to and understood, then
they would open the gate to think about any of the solutions you throw at them.
Take A Break
If you feel that the complaint is stressing
you out, you may need to take break from the situation by letting them know
that you will look into the situation and get back to them. Breaks allow you to
calm down and look at the situation more clearly. A good way to relieve
yourself from the stress is to rant about the customer’s complaint to someone
else during your break. It is important to remember that you are human and you
have emotions too.
Remember its’s Never Too Late to Apologize
When a consumer has sincerely been let down by your product or business, apologize to them by genuinely and respectfully showing you regret what had happened and that you are sorry. This is the chance for you to restate the values of your company and recognizing what happened to them was not okay. An example of an apology would be, “I am truly sorry, you should not have gone through that. This is not the service that we aim to achieve or offer, but I would like to resolve this situation.”
Fix It ASAP
Everybody makes mistakes, and everybody has
those days. But it all matters on how you fix the mistake. This would be your
opportunity to show how dedicated you are to your customers and that you
implement your company values. You can do this by addressing the problem, and
letting them know that it will never happen again, or solving the problem and
rewarding them something for free as an apology.
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The average company responds to an email in about 12 hours and 10 minutes according to a study conducted. But is this quick enough is the question!
With numerous avenues to contact a company including Twitter, email, and Facebook how fast does the average customer expect a response and does their age affect their expectations? A study conducted in 2017 showed that under 45% of customers were very satisfied with their email correspondence. Customers that were satisfied noted down speed being the top factor affecting their interaction. A typical business takes about 12 hours to respond to an email. This is definitely an upgrade from the previous one-business-day standard response time but it may still not be up to par. A previous study done showed that the ideal response time expected even then was just one hour. A follow-up study was done in 2018 to see if this expectation has changed. According to the results the ideal standard for response times through email was still one hour with a response within fifteen minutes remarkable service. This was based on what would satisfy at least 80% of the individuals surveyed.
Email Response Time Expectations
If an email was responded to within a couple of hours a company could capitalize on 70% of customers. A one hour response time is the expectation that would satisfy 89% of customers. When categorized by age the findings showed that Baby Boomers within the ages of 55-73 actually expected the fastest response. Expectations were similar among coworkers expecting responses within the hour. At work, this may be very hard to fulfill and may lead to emails being glanced over quickly and not getting detailed responses back. The average email thread amongst coworkers was reported to be 4.5 emails. The age group that expected the fastest response was GenX, who are 39-54 years old.
Managing Twitter & Facebook Response Times
Twitter the stakes are even higher with the standard expectation being
just fifteen minutes. This can be especially challenging to fulfill as
Twitter is decreasing in popularity and is usually not the preferred
method of contact. Phone calls, and email are still used more, thus
allotting staff members to focus on Twitter may not be the best
allocation of company staff. Again, Baby Boomers expected the fastest
response. Expectations on Facebook were similar to email with one hour
being ideal and fifteen minutes being remarkable. Millennials, ages
23-38 expected the fastest responses on Facebook. Although more people
use Facebook to contact companies than Twitter, a rise from 40% to 50%,
only 55% of Millennials reported using Facebook to contact a company.
In conclusion, the ideal response time for a company to reach a majority of their customers would be to respond within the hour.
A study conducted by McKinsey and Egon Zehnder analysed the relationship between managerial quality and revenue growth and found that customer impact, which is the capacity to grasp the evolving needs of customers, led all leadership competencies. The degree of customer impact also had a huge impact on the company’s revenue growth and the efficiency of the top management trickling down to the managers and the different teams under them, across all growth situations.
Organizations striving customer service excellence must define a customer-centric culture where employees at all levels individually and collectively have the freedom to prioritize customer needs in everything they do. Customer experience must be tied to individual performance assessment. Employees must be recognized and rewarded for their ideas and efforts to comprehend how to serve the customer better. The employee experience reflects the customer care the organization seeks to create.
Organizations must aim to get a decent Net Promoter Score (NPS), which benchmarks customers’ willingness to recommend a company’s products or services to others. Employees must be routinely asked to submit ideas for improving hospitality, customer care and for paring costs. They must be empowered to be engaged and passionate about the customer experience.
Organizations that recognize and reward internal cross-functional collaboration and knowledge-sharing and nurture their employees, understand that employee happiness reflects in customer service excellence, and hence attain sustainable business growth.