Are your customers turning into the Grinch?

What can we learn from the Dr. Seuss story How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

What if your company was Whoville and the holiday celebration was your offering.The Whos’ (employees) love the company and are delighted with how things are going, but that is the inside view; on the outside, the Grinch despises Whoville and wants to destroy it.

Often times, we get caught up in our stories about how great our products are and forget that the most important perspective is that of the customer. What we think about our company doesn’t matter…its about the customer, or the Grinch in this case.

The character Cindy in the Dr. Seuss story, decided to do some research about the Grinch to find out why he hated Whoville so much. From the information she collected, she discovered that the Grinch wasn’t always so hateful and liked Whoville at one point, until a horrible experience changed his viewpoint. Does your company have a Cindy, focused on understanding the customer experience?

You probably know the story, so I’ll get to the end…the Grinch changes his perspective and joins the Whos for a celebration. Whoville is back in business!

How many of your once loyal customers have fallen into the Grinch category?

If there is a time of year to focus on the customer, it’s the holiday season. Holiday shopping can be a stressful time for the consumer, as they try to scoop up as many deals as they can. Customer issues are likely to arise, so you need to be prepared. Your customer service team has to be at the top of its game to deal with some real Grinches.

How you handle these situations can secure these consumers as regular buyers or turn them into Grinch’s who will tell the world about their horrible experience. It is crucial to plan ahead for the increase in customers and potential issues.  Customer service reps should be reminded that it’s a high stress time for everyone, but it’s their responsibility to give the customer a positive shopping experience so your store is on next year’s wish list. That philosophy has to be engrained in the culture.

One of the most important aspects of handling complaints is relating to another person. Think of Cindy in The Grinch as she tried to understand why the Grinch hated Whoville.  If you do it well, you can turn even the angriest consumer (Grinch) into a loyal fan. For that to happen, you need to do few things: listen, learn, and resolve!

Listen

First and foremost, you need to understand their problem. What actually went wrong? Was the product delivered faulty or is this just a wrong item purchased. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish those from what the client says, especially if they are at the edge of screaming.

Be patient and listen to a customer carefully, let them vent off and then try to establish what the problem really is.

Having the right tools in place can help arm the service team with information about all touch points the customer had with your company. There is a tremendous amount of data out there, but you have to be collecting it and turning it into actionable intelligence.

Listening has to extend beyond what’s being said in person or on the phone. Customers often vent on social media sites, so have a team that is prepared to respond via twitter, facebook, and others.

Beyond listening, you need to show some empathy. The customer is going through a stressful time and maybe the problem with the order might mess up their holidays. Offer them your empathy; acknowledge that you understand how stressful this situation is for them.

This is belaboring the point, but the focus is on connecting. Let the customer know that you really care and they aren’t talking to a robot.

Learn

Every interaction you have with a customer is a chance to learn. With those interactions comes data, which offers an opportunity to tap into the various internal and external customer interaction and behavioral data points to detect, measure and improve the desired objective of consistent and rewarding Customer Experience success. Big Data can access and bring together what are normally siloed data repositories, housing many types of semi-structured and unstructured data in order to capture the information necessary to achieve a complete view of the customer experience.

To elaborate on the learning process, I will go over some preventative measures shortly.

Get to the Resolution

Customers don’t just want apologies; they want their problem solved quickly. After apologizing and listening to the problem, the focus should be on a resolution. Get that Grinch back to Whoville!

You can prevent customers from becoming Grinch’s

There are certainly a few ways to prevent your customers from turning into Grinch’s. This is where you can apply what you’ve learned from previous customer interactions.

Navigation

Clear navigation is an essential part of site design, and is fundamental to a good online shopping experience. This means that the menus must be logical and enable customers to quickly and easily find what they are looking for in as few clicks as possible. Organizations are constantly seeking to streamline the online shopping experience further for their customers.

This almost goes without saying, but the site should also accommodate mobile traffic.

Connecting touch points

One of the biggest challenges that brands are facing in the modern market is that today’s customer is channel-agnostic, and demands a seamless customer experience across all channels, whether in-store, online or via mobile. Your customers expect a seamless experience when they interact with your brand on social media, mobile, in-store, through the call center, on your website, and when making a purchase online.

You can excel at service when you combine all customer service touch-points from web, social, mobile, contact center, and field service to better understand your customers and resolve their issues quickly and easily.

Another benefit to connecting all touch-points is the ability to capture data and use a single customer profile for every marketing process. When you recognize every customer as an individual, you can engage customers intelligently with content in context to deepen the relationship.

Personalization

Personalizing your email marketing will help improve its performance and ensure you add more value and are more useful to your customers. Personalized emails work better because they are tailored to the individual needs of the customer, meaning they are more relevant. This increases the likelihood that they will be opened, read and clicked on.

When the opposite happens, it makes customers feel like you don’t understand them and this can build over time and turn them into Grinches who unsubscribe to your messaging.

Further, when you know what your customers care about, you can deliver custom promotions that will likely convert into sales.

Help them Help Themselves

Great customer support should always be available, even when you are not.

Surprisingly, the cost-effective approach of offering “DIY support” doesn’t seem to bother customers too much, as long as the online help content is accurate and useful. In fact, 72% of customers prefer self-service to resolve their support issues over picking up the phone or sending an email.

For ecommerce shops, this means having a knowledge base, or a collection of “FAQ” style articles that address common issues people may have. It helps decrease the amount of tickets you receive, and increases the amount of happy customers, as they now have the option to solve small difficulties on their own.

Drop Off

Increased website traffic also translates into increased cart abandonment. More than 68 percent of online shoppers abandon their shopping cart without completing their purchase. In an effort to convert more sales and lower your cart-abandonment rate consider using a special offer triggered by exit-intent technology, or capture their email address.

You could have an offer of a future discount if they submit an email address. This will allow you to market to them via email, and hopefully get them back to your site to make their purchase.

Once a shopper has left your site without taking action, it is very important to understand why they left. How can you resolve a problem when you don’t know what it was? Maybe they left because they ran out of time, or didn’t find what they were looking for, but maybe they left because they were upset with the user experience. You need to know why.

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” Grinch

Continuing with the premise that your company is Whoville and the holiday celebration is your product offering…your products aren’t the most important part of your business. It is your customer and how they feel about you. If you’re not providing exceptional customer experiences, your customers are not going to care about how good your product or service is. Customer Experience is the only differentiator.

Exceeding customer expectations is the best strategy for improving customer retention. If you can constantly find a way to impress your customers, they will continue to come back for more. Often times, it’s the little things that count the most.

So, be prepared to deal with the Grinch’s, but continue to work proactively towards providing a delightful customer experience and building a customer centric culture.

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