The calendar has turned, friends. After a month of making predictions, we are now on the road to a full 2014. Instead of talking about what you should PLAN on doing, let’s talk about what you can DO to improve your customer experience. Today. Like right now.
1. Focus on customers. Ignore the noise.
Any chance you can, ignore what the boss or the shareholders or the press are saying and focus on what customers need. If your boss is telling you to develop a mobile app because it’s cool, stop and ask what customers really need. Do they need a mobile app when the survey responses tell you they feel duped by the billing process? In an ideal world, the unlimited resources would take care of both. But in this world, sometimes we need to prioritize. Prioritize in favor of your customers.
2. Spend some quiet time actually listening.
In a world of too much data and not enough insight, sometimes the best thing we can do is spend five minutes actually listening. You can do this by walking through your call center once a day. You can do this by reading industry blogs written by your customers. You can do this by searching on social media or reviewing the latest verbatims on your surveys. But don’t make it about anything else. Don’t set a goal to find a complaint about X. Just listen.
3. Check in with your employees.
If your employees are displaying a lack of enthusiasm or just going through the motions, your customers will suffer. When was the last time you asked, sincerely and directly, how are you? What do you think we can do better around here? What do you think our customers want? The act of asking can do a lot to reignite the passion of a disengaged employee.
4. Understand the future.
There are many big brands who decided to ignore the future. It’s easy to ignore what’s happening outside of your company or your industry. But those innovations that matter will matter to every industry. Look at trends in general, not just in the myopic view of Employee of the Month. This is where your customers will be eventually. Consider how you can serve them better there.
5. Never, ever villainize the customer.
It happens ALL THE TIME. In meetings, in usability testing sessions, in customer service training videos, the customer is painted as a buffoon. The customer is viewed as the problem, not the answer. Don’t let it stand. Consider who your customer is, really, and handle that person with care. The customer is not always right, but he is never totally wrong. Allowing the customer to be the fall guy invites excuses, laziness and just plain bad service.
By all means, set big, audacious goals for customer experience improvement. Create exciting new developments and products. Go forth and conquer. Just remember that you can do these things today and every day to truly create a more meaningful and successful customer experience.