With technology and automation booming in the service industry, personalization has become one element that will humanize your employee and customer service and differentiate yourself from other people, organizations and brands.
Your people, both internal and external, want fast, friendly, hassle-free experiences. They want authentic human-to-human interactions that they can’t get from a robot, app or kiosk.
It’s important for your company to have a personalization strategy or plan in place in order to continuously have fast, friendly, hassle-free, personalized service interactions and compete with growing technology and innovation.
Getting Started with a Personalization Strategy
When beginning to develop a personalization strategy, first ask yourself these questions:
- What does your company currently do to personalize your internal service with employees?
- What does your company currently do to personalize your service with customers?
- How have these practices contributed to better service inside and out (faster, friendlier, hassle-free)?
- What can you do internally to improve service cooperation and make it more personalized and authentic? (See 7 principles below for some tips)
- What can you do externally to improve customer service, loyalty and retention by making it more personalized and authentic? (See 7 principles below for some tips)
7 Guiding Principles of a Personalization Strategy
If you do not yet have a personalization plan or strategy in place in your organization, here are 7 principles you can follow to guide you in creating a plan that will make both your employees and customers stay longer, buy more and positively refer others. We believe that these 7 principles are mutually exclusive and that you need to have all 7 principles in place in your organization in order to have exceptional service inside and out.
- Authenticity. Are you real and genuine in everything you do? Authentic people speak the truth and communicate openly with their colleagues.
- Hospitality. Do you make your colleagues and customers feel welcome at every touch point? Start with a positive attitude.
- Empathy. Can you understand and share the feelings of another human being? When you have empathy for your colleagues and customers, you are better able to make decisions that are fair for both parties.
- Commitment. Are you willing to do whatever it takes, no matter what? Being committed means living your values each and every day, even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient.
- Competency. Do you have the skills and ability to excel in your role? Being competent means you are enabled with the learning and skills to do your job well and solve your customer’s problems.
- Friendliness. Friendliness is learned at a young age. Being nice and friendly to your colleagues and customers can create decades of loyalty.
- Fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Having fun at work can de-escalate stressful situations and make interactions with colleagues and customers much more fulfilling.
Making a Plan
Start your personalization plan by going through each of the principles above for both your internal and external service.
- Take stock in how you might already do things great in your organization and what areas could use improvement.
- Use the principles to brainstorm with your team about how you can improve in these 7 key areas. For example, if you find your service lacks competency, perhaps you might look at implementing a formal learning/training program or manager coaching.
- Create a plan of action for the next quarter for how you will begin implementing these ideas in your organization. Put steps in place that will make your employees accountable for providing this personalized service with both their colleagues and customers. Perhaps that takes the shape of a formal recognition program whereby you can recognize and reward your employees for positive personalized behaviours. This will reinforce a company culture of personalization.
You can read more about these principles in our latest book, The Seven Personalization Principles: Learn the Principles to Thrive in These Disruptive Times or read more about it here.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can put these principles in place with a learning or recognition program, get in touch with me to set up a quick discovery call to discuss your organization’s engagement goals and objectives at email@example.com.
Every business organization across the globe has one thing in common and that is, that they all serve a customer. Most organizations would prefer to stay in business, so they are looking for ways to make sure their customer service is exceptional.
Why do you want to create exceptional customer service? If you create great experiences for your customers, they are more likely to stay with you longer, buy more of your product /service, and positively refer others to your organization. And that means more business and more profits for your company! Who doesn’t want that?!
Customer Service Starts on the Inside
The best organizations on the planet know that exceptional customer service, starts on the inside of the organization with the way that they engage and develop their employees. If you treat your employees with respect, authenticity and transparency, they are more likely to understand the expectations of the organization and can deliver what leadership is looking for.
Train and Develop Your Employees to Provide Great Customer Service
Next, comes training and developing those employees to be enabled with the proper skills to effectively serve your customer. You should provide your talent with ongoing learning opportunities, coaching and mentoring.
You can do this with a formal learning program (and even incent their learning with a learn and earn rewards program). You could also provide opportunities for your employees to work on challenging projects that have them problem solve and trouble shoot new situations they haven’t worked on before.
Another effective way to develop your employees is to provide one on one coaching with their managers and leaders. This allows for a very personalized plan to continue their growth in the organization. A great way to integrate one on one coaching, is to make it a step or part of your formal learning program. For example, GES’s learning programs have a focus on action planning, where learners create a plan of action as to how they will implement that learning in real life scenarios. Those plans of action are emailed directly to their supervisors, who can then meet with them and play an important role in the follow up and reinforcement of putting those learning principles into action. If you want to learn more, check out Why Action Planning is the Key for Successful Learning.
Recognize and Reward Your Employees for Providing Great Service
Lastly, if you recognize and reward your employees for going above and beyond with their colleagues and customers, they are more likely to continue that behavior. It also reinforces that behavior within the organization and sets expectations for other employees to know what types of behaviors are being rewarded so they are more likely to mirror them.
And who doesn’t like a little healthy competition sometimes? Recognizing exceptional employees can spark a bit of healthy competition in the talent pool, and further motivate others to reflect those behaviours. For example, you could provide weekly/monthly incentives for top performers to be recognized, or you could simply reinforce a culture of peer to peer and manager to employee recognition where all positive behaviors are acknowledged and rewarded.
For more information on positive recognition and reward incentive programs click here.
I hope this blog gave you some helpful tips on how to engage and develop your team so that they can provide better experiences for your customers to make them stay longer, buy more and positively refer others! If you have any questions or want to start a program in your organization to put these principles into action, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to have a quick chat with you and your team!
There are many reasons you should engage your employees, besides just money. But did you know that if you’re not engaging and recognizing your employees you could be leaving hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars on the table!
By engaging your employees, not only will you be improving your internal processes, but you will create a better experience for your customers.
Internal Loss from Lack of Engagement
Lack of engagement can lead to many pitfalls in your internal service channel. Some of them include:
- Lower Productivity
- Higher Turnover
- Effect on Recruitment
- Lower Energy/Motivation
- Higher Stress Levels
- Implications for Safety/Wellness
Why is Employee Engagement Important for your Bottom Line?
As an organization, if you focus on engaging your employees and removing obstacles that get in the way of internal service cooperation, it will translate into better experiences for your customers. This will create customers that stay longer, buy more and positively refer others and that means more profit for your organization!
When you have loyal customers you have a built in base of reliable continuous profit. This can continue to grow if you exceed your customer’s expectations and provide them with personalized service. When you provide your customers with value and exceptional service they will continue to be loyal to your organization. Value for your customers is created by having competent, committed, hospitable and authentic employees that can provide fast, friendly, hassle-free service. Therefore, your employees’ engagement and motivation will result in high-quality service for your customers.
According to a recent report by OfficeVibe, “disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion annually” (OfficeVibe, 2017). In their roundup of employee engagement stats, they make a very compelling case for the profitability of engaging your employees (see below).
- Highly engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability.
- Highly engaged business units realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity.
- Highly engaged business units achieve a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales.
- Companies with engaged employees, outperform those without by 202%.
- Customer retention rates are 18% higher on average when employees are highly engaged.
What improvements have you seen in your organization from having an engagement and recognition program?
Do you feel your engaged employees have improved your customer experience?
If you’re ready to get started engaging your employees to create more profit, read more about how to Focus on Engaged Employees for Better Customer Outcomes.
In order to have your customer’s loyalty, to ensure they stay longer, buy more and tell others, you have to be responsible for their entire experience, not just the things directly in your control. That is why if you are a leader, it is so important to focus on your internal service cooperation in order to improve your customer experience. Read more about why If Your Internal Service Sucks, Your External Service is Doomed.
It is critically important for you and your organization to look for ways to own and manage the entire customer experience or you could be in jeopardy of losing your loyal customer at any touch point. Yes, this means even for things you are not responsible for.
“Service recovery means that you have an opportunity to respond and work to resolve the problem at hand to ensure the customer expectations are met.” – Peter Psichogios
Here are a few ways that will help to keep your customers as net promoters (and not turn them into net detractors):
Put their problem in context. Context involves using your diagnostic skills. The other element of context is knowing your customer. As a leader, this means giving your team autonomy to use judgement in the service recovery process.
Never be rude. There is never a reason to be rude, disrespectful or condescending to a guest. Safety, security, common respect and politeness are not mutually exclusive. Rude people leave a long, lasting impression. Always show your customer respect. Many people have difficult jobs, many people have to deal with difficult situations.
Receive feedback as a gift. Don’t argue with a customer who is giving you feedback; use it to improve. Continuously. Regardless of what type of complaint, it is critically important to first listen, never argue and then apologize.
Focus on recovery. If you get it wrong the first time, you’d better get it exceptionally right the second time. Not a lot of people complain, because typically it is such a hassle. But, when someone gives you an opportunity to recover, you’d better do it exceptionally well. Recovery means listening. Recovery means being empathetic.
Listen, listen, listen. Upset customers need to vent, so let them. When you are in service recovery, expect to have a frustrated customer who may be emotional.
If you are in customer service and you are dealing with an angry customer, they may yell at you and they may even swear at you. It is your job to listen and not be defensive so that you can understand the real issue that your customer has. And ideally, solve it!
An apology, listening and respect go a long way. In order to thrive in service recovery you must a) acknowledge b) communicate c) apologize and d) answer your customer.
Remember, each and every person inside your business impacts the customer experience, their loyalty and yes, your customer’s peace of mind. If you let somebody inside of your four walls, regardless of what department they are in, they’d better be focused on enhancing the customer experience. Create exceptional experiences for your customers at every touch point.
Each and every person in your organization has an impact on your customer experience and therefore your bottom line. Even those employees who don’t work on the front lines directly with your customers are serving your employees internally and providing them with the means necessary to perform their job.
“Customers don’t interact with an organization. They interact with you and your co-workers. It is that experience whether they buy or not, whether they become loyal customers or a lost opportunity.” – Peter Psichogios
Your Customer Service if Only as Great as Your Internal Service
It takes great internal service cooperation to provide seamless, flexible, hassle-free customer service. Whatever is happening on the inside of a company can be felt on the outside by the customers. If your talent is not fast, flexible and hassle-free with each other, how can they behave differently for your customers?
There are many ways that your internal employees might help serve your front-line employees to improve the customer experience. Leaders can serve your customers by providing front-line employees with the training, skills and competencies needed to do their best work. They can also remove obstacles that get in the way of providing the best experience to your customers.
Other internal colleagues might be involved in supporting those front-line workers with administrative work, stocking products, accounting and many other tasks that all contribute to a smooth customer experience. Read more about why if Your Internal Sucks, Your External Experience is Doomed.
Earning Customer Loyalty
Earning your customers’ loyalty starts with creating exceptional customer experiences at every touch point. The first step is having great internal service cooperation, and providing your employees with learning and development to enable them to better serve your customers as discussed above.
Earning customer loyalty is simple, but it’s not always easy. It takes dedication from your leaders, continuous effort from employees, and a commitment from your organization to align your organization on all levels.
Here are a few simple things you can do to earn your customer’s loyalty:
- · Personalize your interactions and treat each customer uniquely as they want to be treated.
- · Be authentic with every customer.
- · Be friendly!
- · Communicate clearly and effectively to set realistic expectations.
- · Exceed customer expectations every time. Always go the extra mile for your customers!
- · Honor your commitments. Follow through and do what you say you will.
- · Provide them with fast, hassle-free service.
- · Reward them with incentives to return and recommend!
It takes commitment and focus to understand that each interaction with your customers is an opportunity to create delight. But when you create exceptional experiences at every touch point, you will earn decades of loyalty.
We live in a society now where customers are constantly being bombarded with products in services at every touch point. On their mobile phone, internet browser, social media, television, print, at work, email marketing, billboards and much much more. So, as an organization it is important to remember that your experiences are not created inside a vacuum. What I mean by that is that your customers experience is effected by many aspects and layers of their service interactions.
If you want to excel at being an organization that creates exceptional experiences for their customers at every touch point, be sure that your service is impeccable through every channel. Read more about how to Improve Your Omni-Channel Experience here.
“Service is produced, consumed and evaluated simultaneously.” – Peter Psichogios
Your service is produced, consumed and evaluated simultaneously, which means that your employees much be enabled to provide the best service imaginable. They must be able to provide service that is fast, friendly, and hassle free.
Invest in your Employees for Better Service
So how do you enable your employees to provide this kind of exceptional service? A large part of it is investing in their growth and development from the get go. Many people are worried about spending the time and money on developing their employees, but if you’re not investing in your employees’ future then they’re going to find someone who will.
Learning is one of the key drivers of employee engagement, so it is no surprise that your talent want opportunities to learn and grow in your organization. When you provide your employees with learning they feel acknowledged and they feel connected to your company’s growth and vision. When you invest in your employees, they will want to invest their motivation and energy back in to your organization.
Plus, when you invest in your employees’ skills and competencies, they will be able to provide better service internally with their colleagues and externally with your customers, both of which improve your bottom line with increased productivity, loyalty, and sales. That investment will drive them to provide experiences that make your customers stay longer, buy more and positively refer others.
What development initiatives do you have in your organization that help to create better customer experiences?
Have you personally seen a connection with increased employee engagement and improved customer service?
What organizations come to mind when you think of exceptional service? What ways do you see that their employees are enabled to provide you with quality service?
We love to hear your personal stories and suggestions! Please share in the comments below.
As an organization if you want to create the best experiences for your customers (and employees) the devil is in the details! If you want to create experiences that make your customers stay longer, buy more, and positively refer others, you must focus on the little things that will differentiate your experience from your competitors and this all starts with aligning your internal service cooperation.
Create Personalized Interactions and Focus on the Little Things
“In creating service experiences, each one of us has the ability to make the little things the important things.” – Peter Psichogios
This means you must pay attention to every detail. It is important to manage the details, both for your employees and your customers, so that you can create personalized, authentic and friendly interactions each and every time. In the personalization economy, the little things are the big things. And it’s important to personalize the experience for both your employees and customers. What I mean by that is, get to know your employees and customers more intimately, and treat them uniquely how they want to be treated. This might be recognizing and rewarding an employee in a personalized way that motivates and engages them. With a customer, this might mean asking them “how would you like us to serve you,” or listening to their queries and personally addressing their feedback.
A major blunder we see executive teams and companies make is that they do well on what they deem the important or hard things, and lose focus, do not pay attention, and have inconsistent interactions on what they perceive as trivia, detail or “the little things.”
Exceptional Customer Service Starts with Internal Service Cooperation
One of the hallmarks of every legendary customer service organization is that they first have awesome internal service cooperation. When you have exceptional internal service, your employees feel enabled and competent to serve their customers and focus on the little details.
Here are 7 Ways to Create Internal Service Cooperation:
- Stay Positive – have the same upbeat attitude with your internal partners as you could with your external customers
- Honor Commitments – when you make a commitment with a coworker, keep it!
- Communicate Often – The best customer service is create from high-touch, high-tech communication environments. This is one area where it is extremely important to focus on the small details and listen.
- Negotiate Expectations – share how another internal service provider can better assist you in serving an external customer
- Step Out of Your Silo – Network with co-workers from other areas of the organization to understand the internal service workflow. This is another area where the small details of understanding how your work effects others (and vice versa) will be extremely influential.
- Be Polite – treat co-workers with the same courtesy as you would customers, and help them be responsive and efficient to your external customers.
- Be Helpful – look for ways to directly or indirectly support a customer or co-worker.
We’d love to hear your feedback on how you implement exceptional internal service in your organization.
Have you seen changes your internal service make a difference for your external customers?
How do you focus on the little things (while also making sure the big things are taken care of)?
What actions do you have in place to make your internal service exceptional so that your external customer service can shine?
Reply in the comments below and share your best practices so we can learn from one another!
Technology is proliferating our business practices and all aspects of our lives and we have become extremely reliant on technology and automation to run our businesses efficiently. Yet, there is a digital kickback taking place whereby now, more than ever, customers want both highly personalized and high tech interactions with the organizations they buy from (and work for).
What this means for front-line workers is that they must be prepared for this digital kickback by providing their customers with personalized experiences that only another human being can provide, while also remaining as fast, friendly and hassle-free as their robot counterparts.
As an organization there are several ways that you can prepare your employees to become irreplaceable and create exceptional human experiences that your customers crave in this digital revolution. The principles that will protect their jobs from being automated by a robot are:
Being friendly & fun. Being friendly and fun cannot necessarily be trained, it is a personality trait that is engrained in humans at a young age. When you are friendly and fun with your employees and customers, it makes the interaction personal, light and shows that you don’t take yourself too seriously, but are choosing to create a joyful experience for everyone. You can encourage friendliness and fun in your organization by giving your employees the autonomy to make good decisions that reflect your company culture and values. And create a culture that embraces fun and isn’t stifled by too many unnecessary policies and procedures.
Being competent & committed. In order to be competent and committed you must first make sure that all obstacles that would get in the way of creating an exceptional experience are removed. This means thoroughly and accurately training and developing all employees to understand the workflow, what their role is in providing an exceptional customer experience, and how to execute any tasks that will be expected of them to carry out that experience. Then they must be committed to providing that experience, no matter what. When you invest in your employee’s learning and development, they will invest their discretionary energy back into creating an exceptional internal experience for their colleagues and external experience for their customers. And when you recognize and reward them for doing that, they will be committed to continue to create that experience at every touch point.
Being authentic, empathetic & hospitable. In other words, you must treat each individual employee and customer uniquely how they want to be treated. You must be able to empathize with their needs and wants and be able to authentically create a personalized experience that makes them feel welcome. This will create an exceptional experience for them that will create decades of customer loyalty.
Providing these personalized, humanized experiences for your employees and customer throughout the digital revolution is one excellent way to differentiate yourself from other organizations and be a winner in the experience economy now and for decades to come.
If you want to read more about the 7 Personalization Principles discussed above, click here and we’ll mail you a free copy of The Seven Personalization Principles: Learn the principles to thrive in these disruptive times.
Creating customer love is the result of you and your co-workers being positive in your communications and proactive in your service. The love might simply be the result of your tone or your responsiveness that left that customer feeling more secure, more knowledgeable and more comfortable than they did before interacting with you. I think that defines customer love.
You create customer delight by the cumulative effect of delivering exceptional service to your customers, one interaction at a time.
Creating consistent exceptional experiences will create a sustainable competitive advantage and it is also something that is very hard to copy or replicate.
To create this customer love, you and everyone on your team must be committed to exceeding your customer’s expectations. You can exceed your customer’s expectations by providing them with personalized service interactions each and every time.
Here are 7 ways you can create a personalized experience for your customers that will continuously create customer love:
- Be Authentic – human beings crave authentic, personalized and hassle-free interactions
- Be Hospitable – having an attitude of being a servant is an investment that will produce returns forever
- Be Empathetic – understand and create the type of experience that your customer desires
- Be Committed – be willing to do what it takes, no matter what
- Be Competent – you must have the skills and ability to excel in your role
- Be Friendly – friendly people can create decades of loyalty
- Be Fun – you have to be at work anyways, so why not make it as fun and fulfilling as possible
In creating service experiences, each one of us has the ability to make the little things – important things.
Your goal for making your customers love you should be to leave each customer feeling more secure, more knowledgeable and more comfortable than they did before interacting with you. The way that you listen, set realistic expectations, and respond will be one of the biggest factors in whether you create customers who stay longer, buy more and positively refer others.
If you want to remove the parking brake that is holding your organization back from reaching its best growth and potential, your job as a leader is to develop your employees with skills, and remove obstacles that get in the way of them serving their colleagues and customers.
There have been millions upon millions of dollars spent around the globe on employee engagement and improving customer service. In my experience the missing ingredient to unlocking your employees’ discretionary energy and providing your customers with better service is enabling your employees with the skills needed to excel today and the development needed to advance tomorrow.
When you deliver skills that increase the competency of your workers, they will become more engaged and energized and will be more knowledgeable and able to provide better service for your customers.
As a leader, you want to hire people who are smarter than you and who have a passion for growth and learning. If you think about it, your employees should know more about their areas of specialization than anybody else, and their decisions are likely to have an impact throughout the company. That is why it is crucial to invest in their skills and competencies, so they can make smart decisions on behalf of your company and provide their colleagues and customers with amazing service.
Here are 6 ways to skill up your workers for service:
- Provide engaging learning to develop skills that make your employees more marketable, ideally internally, but maybe someday externally.
- Remove obstacles and bad or outdated policies that can negatively affect employee enablement. Learn more about how to become a Chief Obstacle Remover in this video.
- Leverage your employees’ distinct abilities and ensure the right people are in the right roles.
- Focus on giving your employees non-monetary rewards such as career growth and recognition programs. This will incentivize and motivate them to practice and use their skills with their colleagues and customers.
- Provide life skills that will differentiate your employees in any role they are in. Life skills, often referred to as ‘soft-skills’ are what differentiate humans from robots. These are the skills that help create personalized, authentic interactions with colleagues and customers.
- Layer in skills over time, with a focus on follow up, reinforcement and action planning. If you repeat and reinforce your learning, they will be able to access their skills when they need them.
Now that you know why it’s important to skill up for service, read more about the Top 4 Things Your Employees Want From Their Learning Program.