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3 Ways To Find Valuable Customer Experience Insight by Jeremy Watkin

I’m 6’4” tall so I don’t typically spend much time riding in the back seat of cars–especially not in my own car. We had family in town this past weekend so I answered the call and sat in my back seat quite possibly for the first time ever. When I sat down, I adjusted the floor mat and found the tiny USB plug for my headphones that went missing quite a while ago. It had fallen out of my pocket and I assumed it was gone forever.

Isn’t it funny how simply changing my seat resulted in finding what I was searching for? Business insights are a lot like my missing USB plug. Sometimes a change of seat or speaking with those in other seats within your organization will give you new eyes to see problems and solutions you previously believed were nonexistent.

Voice Of Customer (VOC) is all the rage right now for companies interested in improving the experience for their customers. Before you spend many thousands of dollars on a VOC solution, allow me to offer a few ideas to kickstart your program.

Get To Know The People On The Front Lines

Housed within your contact center is a wealth of knowledge and information about what is and isn’t working about your product or service. Whether you periodically speak with customers or speak with the people speaking with your customers, create open lines of communication so they are comfortable sharing the challenges and complaints they regularly face. You may find that there’s a simple, inexpensive improvement that can pay big dividends for your customer experience.

Get People In All Different Seats Talking To Each Other

You may not realize it but many people within your organization have an impact on your customer experience. Sales and marketing work to get customers in the door and signed up, management creates policies that affect customers, and customer service takes care of them once they are customers. These groups should be talking regularly to gain insight into how they can help one another make the experience as smooth as possible. At FCR we are big fans of regular round table discussions in an effort to share more and more insight about customers with our clients.

Ask Your Customers

The best way to ask your customers about their experience is to survey them. At this point I’m less concerned about what survey you use and more concerned about getting regular customer feedback. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), or even the one with the happy and sad face are all great and inexpensive provided that you allow your customers to share feedback about their experience. The important part is routinely reading this feedback, following up, monitoring trends, and fixing issues.

It’s so easy to plop down in our chairs each day and only see the customer experience from our own point of view. Perhaps you think your customer experience is perfect–or perhaps you think you have an insurmountable problem. Regardless of what camp you are in, make it a routine to get out of your chair and view the customer experience from another seat. By gaining a new perspective, you may just find something you lost– whether you were looking for it or not.

Jeremy Watkin

Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at GoFCR.com, the most disruptive and respected outsource provider. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional. He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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5 Tips To Make A Prickly Situation Beautiful by Jeremy Watkin

When I was a teenager, I remember hearing my parents talk about birds or flowers and would instantly roll my eyes and check out of the conversation. Could anything be more boring?

Now, as I rapidly approach the big four oh, I find myself doing the exact same thing—talking about birds and flowers. Before you totally check out, stay with me. I’m going to somehow tie this to your life.

Lately, I’ve become total infatuated with cactus flowers. I’m a pine tree and mountain meadow sort of guy, so your run of the mill cactus really has absolutely no appeal to me whatsoever—that is until the cactus flower entered my life.

As you observe the stages of the cactus flowering process, it’s as if this ugly, prickly plant all of a sudden sprouts a wart or a zit or something. As if the cactus couldn’t get any uglier, right? Then, just when all hope is lost, the flower blooms and it is an absolute work of art. In my humble opinion, cactus flowers put roses to shame.

So I just spent four paragraphs telling you about cactus flowers. How in the world does this apply to customer service, business, and life? Great question!

If you are in customer service, you know full well that you will encounter prickly situations on a regular basis. You’ll hear enough insults and negative talk to ruin your day—if you let it. For those of you looking for longevity in your career, here are five simple tips to making those prickly encounters beautiful.

Stay Positive

Call center leaders love telling agents to keep a mirror at their desk as a reminder to smile as they answer every call. It’s easier said than done—especially by folks who don’t have to answer the phone all day, every day. But it’s really true. Make a decision to be positive, start with making your face smile, and your feelings will eventually follow.

How does your customer service garden grow? With lots of Possibility, Encouragement, Positivity and Trust, of course.
— Jenny Dempsey

Turn On The Charm

I’m not asking you to use your best pick up lines here. Keep it simple. Start with learning the customer’s name and using it multiple times throughout the encounter—in a natural way, of course.

Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
— Dale Carnegie

Use Empathy

Empathy is about genuinely identifying with the emotions and feelings of another human being. One of the most important things you can do to build a connection with your customer is to recognize that and respond accordingly. A simple “I am so sorry for this difficult situation. I would love to do my best to help with this” can go a long way to let your customer know you are right there with them.

In customer service when you strip everything away, what’s left should be people helping people…period.
— Jeremy Watkin

Don’t Get Defensive

As I point at you on this one, I realize there are three fingers pointed back at me. I am the king of defensive! The vast majority of your customers that are in prickly situations are angry at the problem, not at you. Don’t take their anger or frustration personally. It’s not even your job to defend the company. It’s your job to help the customer. If the customer needs to vent, let them!

You’re going to get the hard ones, and they’ll be pretty upsell by the time they get to you, so let ‘em go off if they need to.
— Adam Toporek

Focus On The Problem

As a continuation of number four, it’s ok to gently guide the situation toward a resolution. Keep your eyes focused on understanding the problem at hand and then working to find a solution to solve it. There’s a good chance the customer has already heard a “no, it can’t be done” from someone. This is your opportunity to be creative and overcome that no.

When customers give you lemons, make margaritas! Take their problems and turn them into tasty solutions! Cheers!
— Jenny Dempsey

I’ve used these five steps time and time again when working with customers. Prickly situations will arise…daily. Make it your mission with each difficult situation to be like a cactus and produce a beautiful flower.

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of AWESOME Customer Service at Phone.com and co-founder of CommunicateBetterBlog.com; a blog dedicated to learning about good and bad customer service with the intent of providing awesome customer service for Phone.com. Follow Jeremy on Twitter and LinkedIn. Jenny Dempsey and Adam Toporek quoted above as well

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