Impact Learning Systems

GET TO THE HEART OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Name: Sarah Hedayati

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Web Site: http://about.me/sarahhedayati

Bio: We are advocates for providing customers the best experience possible. Impact Learning Systems is the leader in customer service skills training and consulting. Customer service is all about the positive experience you provide.

Posts by Sarah Hedayati:

    Health Insurance Call Volume Increasing: Best Practices to Achieve Success

    June 15th, 2012

    Did you notice an increase in call vol­ume dur­ing your last Open Enroll­ment period? Most health insur­ance call cen­ters did. In fact, some received such a high call vol­ume, their IVRs couldn’t han­dle the load and needed to be upgraded on the spot.  Based on every­one we talk to, call cen­ters need to be pre­pared for an increase in call vol­ume each year for the next few years.

    Why is Call Vol­ume Increasing?

    Call cen­ters in the health insur­ance indus­try will see an increase in call vol­ume because of sev­eral shifts cur­rently tak­ing place:

    Baby Boomers: Begin­ning on Jan­u­ary 1, 2011, more than 10,000 baby boomers will reach the age of 65 every day through 2030. More baby boomers will con­tact your call cen­ter with ques­tions about the coor­di­na­tion of Medicare and sup­ple­men­tal cov­er­age. They may have con­cerns about being able to afford cov­er­age. They may need advice about the best plan to cover their med­ical needs.

    Health Care Reform: With the imple­men­ta­tion of the Afford­able Care Act, more peo­ple will have ques­tions about how this act will affect them. They may want to know how their cov­er­age will change or which plan is best for their needs. They may want infor­ma­tion on the best and most cost-effective plan.

    What is the Impact of Call Vol­ume Increasing?

    The increase in call vol­ume has the poten­tial to increase costs, reduce cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, and increase the num­ber of call backs.

    Increased Costs: As more calls come in, call cen­ters need to make adjust­ments by hir­ing more agents, pur­chas­ing more equip­ment, and either find­ing more facil­i­ties, out­sourc­ing agents, or tran­si­tion­ing agents to work from home.

    Reduced Cus­tomer Sat­is­fac­tion: With call vol­ume going up, wait times may go up as well. Insuf­fi­ciently trained call cen­ter agents won’t know how to effec­tively ques­tion callers to guide and con­trol the call. With­out the proper skills to get to the root of the customer’s prob­lem or ques­tion, the num­ber of callers in the queue will stack up.

    Increased Call Backs: Call backs may increase as well due to the com­plex­ity of infor­ma­tion. The changes that come with the Afford­able Care Act will take time for agents and mem­bers to under­stand. If an agent doesn’t ade­quately answer a member’s ques­tion, the mem­ber will call back which will increase costs and stretch your resources even further.

    What is the Best Way to Pre­pare for Call Vol­ume Increasing?

    Now that you under­stand why call vol­ume is increas­ing and what the impact is, what can you do to pre­pare and respond? Train­ing! Cus­tomer ser­vice agents need to under­stand prod­ucts avail­able and be trained to con­trol the call, be patient and express empa­thy, and com­mu­ni­cate in a sim­ple and clear manner:

    Con­trol the Call: CSRs need to learn good ques­tion­ing tech­niques. Cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing will teach agents the dif­fer­ence between open and closed ques­tions and when to use each method. Read the exam­ple below to under­stand the dif­fer­ence between open and closed questions.

    Caller: I’m retir­ing next year and I’m also con­cerned about health care reform. What do these changes mean to me?

    Open Ques­tion: I’m happy to help with that. What con­cerns do you have?

    Open Ques­tions are ones that solicit more than a “yes” or “no” or other one-word response.

    Closed Ques­tion: We have a great pack­age of ben­e­fits for you now that you’ll be retir­ing. Why don’t you tell me what health ser­vices you use most and I’ll let you know how our plan will work for you next year?

    Closed ques­tions are use­ful when you want a “yes” or “no” response or when you need spe­cific infor­ma­tion from a customer.

    Ques­tion­ing skills will help the agent hone in on what mem­bers are call­ing about and answer their ques­tions in an effi­cient manner.

    Be Patient and Express Empa­thy: Health insur­ance call cen­ters agents need to be pre­pared to serve these diverse groups:

    • Older callers who may be ill or hard of hearing
    • New entrants into the insur­ance mar­ket unfa­mil­iar with insur­ance terminology
    • Mem­bers con­fused by more com­plex ben­e­fits and changes due to health care reform

    Being patient and con­vey­ing empa­thy for the member’s ques­tions and con­cerns will help CSRs achieve cus­tomer satisfaction.

    Com­mu­ni­cate Clearly: The changes brought on by health care reform will take time for mem­bers to grasp. CSRs need to be skilled at explain­ing ben­e­fits in a clear and con­cise man­ner and with­out the use of jar­gon. CSRs also need to learn how to con­firm that callers under­stand the infor­ma­tion and explain what callers can expect next so they don’t have to call back.

    Increases in call vol­ume will take some adjust­ments for your call cen­ter. Plan ahead, staff your cen­ter appro­pri­ately, and train agents so you’re pre­pared to respond. Keep agents informed and up to date on the lat­est health care news so your cen­ter becomes a knowl­edge­able resource for its members.

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    First Call Resolution in the Health Insurance Industry

    May 29th, 2012

    First call res­o­lu­tion is a lead­ing indi­ca­tor of cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, because cus­tomers want their sup­port requests resolved imme­di­ately. First call res­o­lu­tion is becom­ing even more impor­tant, because call cen­ters in the health insur­ance indus­try are see­ing an increase in ser­vice calls as the baby boomers reach 65 and have ques­tions about their health insur­ance and Medicare eli­gi­bil­ity. Begin­ning on Jan­u­ary 1, 2011, more than 10,000 baby boomers will reach the age of 65 every day through 2030. The abil­ity to solve each customer’s issues effi­ciently will mean hap­pier cus­tomers and less money spent han­dling repeat calls.

    Man­agers and super­vi­sors need to mon­i­tor the num­ber of calls their health insur­ance agents close and how many of those calls get re-opened. The only way to achieve first call res­o­lu­tion is to meet the needs of the cus­tomer. Cus­tomers will decide whether their prob­lems were resolved or their ques­tions answered on the first call or not.

    If you’re inter­ested in learn­ing more about first call res­o­lu­tion, take a look at some addi­tional posts com­piled below:

    The Role of First-Call-Resolution in Cus­tomer Satisfaction

    FCR and Cus­tomer Sat­is­fac­tion: A Match Made in Heaven

    The Busi­ness Case for First Call Resolution

    Track­ing Customer-Focused Metrics

     

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    Customer Satisfaction in the Health Insurance Industry

    May 22nd, 2012

    The health insur­ance indus­try is get­ting a lot of atten­tion as call vol­ume picks up. Baby boomers are retir­ing and search­ing for sup­ple­men­tal Medicare cov­er­age, health care reform is in the air, and more mem­bers are need­ing assis­tance and sup­port. Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion is a key met­ric for health insur­ance com­pa­nies to mon­i­tor in order to gauge which areas of their cus­tomer ser­vice are strong and which areas need improve­ment in order to main­tain or increase their mem­ber­ship base.

    Accord­ing to sta­tis­tics, busi­nesses will increase prof­its by 25 to 125% by retain­ing an addi­tional 5% of cus­tomers. It’s also proven that it costs ten times as much to attract new cus­tomers as it does to retain cur­rent customers.

    Achieve Cus­tomer Sat­is­fac­tion and Gain Loyal Customers

    Com­pa­nies that have achieved sat­is­fied cus­tomers will achieve loyal cus­tomers as well. For exam­ple, imag­ine a mem­ber calls your cen­ter with a ques­tion about insur­ance cov­er­age and an agent pro­vides out­stand­ing service—service that far sur­passes the member’s expec­ta­tion. That cus­tomer will be much more inclined to renew cov­er­age with your com­pany than move to a dif­fer­ent insur­ance com­pany not know­ing whether they would receive the same level of service.

    Pro­vide Con­sis­tent Lev­els of Service

    Cus­tomers tend to stay with com­pa­nies that pro­vide a con­sis­tent level of cus­tomer ser­vice even if they are not the least expen­sive, the most con­ve­nient, or have the most fea­tures in their products.

    • Train your agents to have excel­lent prod­uct knowl­edge and test them occa­sion­ally to be sure that knowl­edge is retained.
    • Pro­vide cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing so agents offer cus­tomer ser­vice in a con­sis­tent man­ner. Calls should be opened and closed the same way. Agents should learn to speak in a pos­i­tive man­ner, telling callers what they can do, rather than what they can’t. Pro­vide easy-to-understand instruc­tions for agents to use in dis­cussing enroll­ment and claims filing.

    Resolve Issues on the First Call

    Train agents to achieve first call res­o­lu­tion. Because of the tech­ni­cal nature of health insur­ance, this will include steps like con­firm­ing that the cus­tomer under­stands the ben­e­fits that the agent described and telling mem­bers what to expect in order to avoid call backs. Accord­ing to an arti­cle by Rosanne D’Ausilio, when an issue is resolved on the first call, only 3% of cus­tomers are likely to go to a competitor.

    New Cus­tomers Need TLC

    Health insur­ance com­pa­nies often give prospec­tive mem­bers the most atten­tion. Once prospects become cus­tomers, what does your com­pany do to retain them? The sad truth is that many times com­pa­nies put their best resources into the acqui­si­tion of new mem­bers, some­times at the expense of what is needed to retain them.

    Remem­ber, loyal mem­bers are the best form of adver­tis­ing. They talk to each other at work and at retire­ment meet­ings. They com­pare notes dur­ing open enroll­ment. So come up with ways to show mem­bers you appre­ci­ate their busi­ness and want them to become mem­bers for life. Read this blog post to learn more about the impor­tance of retain­ing members.

    Teach health insur­ance agents how to build rap­port with mem­bers and how to show empa­thy. Mem­bers need to believe the agent under­stands their sit­u­a­tion and is actively work­ing to answer their ques­tion or rem­edy their problem.

    Pro­vide Chan­nels for Cus­tomers to Reach You

    If sat­is­fied cus­tomers are the goal, cre­ate chan­nels for mem­bers to com­mu­ni­cate with you. Com­plaints are an essen­tial part of cus­tomer feed­back. If a cus­tomer is unhappy, you want to be aware of it so you have an oppor­tu­nity to improve. It’s been shown that mem­bers who have had prob­lems resolved quickly and pro­fes­sion­ally are more loyal to their insur­ance com­pany than mem­bers who have never had a problem.

    The eas­ier you make it for cus­tomers to com­plain, the more likely they will be to give you a chance to save them as cus­tomers. Accord­ing to the arti­cle by Rosanne D’Ausilio, 68% of cus­tomers with unre­solved issues are at risk for defect­ing to another company.

    Lis­ten to Feed­back and Act

    Once you’ve given mem­bers an oppor­tu­nity to voice their con­cerns, do some­thing with the feed­back! Cus­tomers feel val­i­dated when the com­pa­nies they do busi­ness with take their sug­ges­tions seri­ously enough to incor­po­rate them into their prod­ucts and ser­vices.  If you can’t make prod­uct changes, at least acknowl­edge that you received the feed­back and let your staff know what you intend to do with it.

    If you want more sat­is­fied cus­tomers, lis­ten to them and act on what they tell you when­ever possible!

    Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion is a goal that ben­e­fits both you and your mem­bers. Whether the mem­bers are new or have been loyal for years, make an effort to com­mu­ni­cate with them and let them know they’re val­ued and that their feed­back is impor­tant to you. Happy mem­bers mean more busi­ness for you.

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    Employee Retention: Y You Need a Strategy

    May 15th, 2012

    Employee reten­tion has become a com­mon topic in call cen­ters as the econ­omy starts to improve. Accord­ing to a 2011 sur­vey included in an arti­cle writ­ten by Cal­abrio, 70 per­cent of Gen­er­a­tion Y con­tact cen­ter agents are con­tem­plat­ing leav­ing their cur­rent role when the econ­omy improves.

    In addi­tion to agents leav­ing for higher pay­ing jobs, Gen Y is moti­vated by bet­ter perks and ben­e­fits and more oppor­tu­ni­ties for advancement.

    If you’re not already con­vinced your efforts need to lie in employee reten­tion, con­sider this: the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics reported that employ­ees aged 25–34 stayed on the job 3.1 years on aver­age com­pared to baby boomers who stayed 10 years. Are you pre­pared to retain your top Gen Y talent?

    Below are top strate­gies to get employee reten­tion efforts rolling:

    Get to Know Gen Y

    Every gen­er­a­tion has unique char­ac­ter­is­tics in the way they view the world and how they oper­ate. Below are Gen Y char­ac­ter­is­tics to help you adjust the way you man­age this group:

    Gen Y Wants Fre­quent Com­mu­ni­ca­tion: Accord­ing to a sur­vey of Gen Y, 35% want to com­mu­ni­cate with their man­ager sev­eral times a day. The report from this sur­vey says, “They seek man­agers who are will­ing to let them fig­ure out their own strate­gies for get­ting the job done while at the same time being approach­able and avail­able to pro­vide advice, assis­tance, and support.”

    Gen Y Needs to Feel Val­ued: Gen Yers are just start­ing their careers and they want to know they have the skills to suc­ceed and that their work mat­ters. This gen­er­a­tion is used to con­stant feed­back, so they will crave it from their manager.

    Gen Y Wants Men­tors: Gen Y wants to learn from their man­agers. They want their man­ager to share their knowl­edge.  Are there quick tips you can share on a weekly basis?

    Employee reten­tion takes get­ting to know your staff.

    Appeal to Gen Y Strengths

    Now that you’re a lit­tle more famil­iar with Gen Y, uncover strengths you can use to the company’s advan­tage. Accord­ing to an arti­cle from Melissa Kovace­vic, Gen Y employ­ees have high integrity, the abil­ity to pri­or­i­tize and deliver results, and tech­ni­cal skills. How can you make the most of these strengths? What addi­tional tasks can you assign Gen Y employees?

    For exam­ple, if an employee exhibits strength in under­stand­ing the soft­ware you use in the call cen­ter, empower him or her to men­tor new employ­ees. This will reduce your work-load train­ing new agents and make cur­rent agents feel like val­ued mem­bers of the company.

    Cre­ate a Flex­i­ble Work Environment

    The work envi­ron­ment is extremely impor­tant to the morale and pro­duc­tiv­ity of employ­ees. What fac­tors can you adjust to help Gen Y to be suc­cess­ful? Accord­ing to the sur­vey of Gen Y, “Work­place fac­tors that are most impor­tant to Gen Y are work­ing with a man­ager they respect and peo­ple that they enjoy, and strik­ing a bal­ance between per­sonal and work obligations.”

    Under­stand­ing these aspects is the first step. The next step is to see what you can do to help employ­ees cre­ate their ideal work envi­ron­ment. Encour­age employ­ees to get to know each other. Try pair­ing two employ­ees to take a lunch break at the same time. This may be an oppor­tu­nity to start a men­tor­ship program.

    Offer Com­pany Perks

    Many perks come at a min­i­mal cost to a com­pany, but speak vol­umes to employ­ees. What kind of perks would appeal to your Gen Y staff?

    “Employee of the Month” – Gen Y likes to feel appre­ci­ated as men­tioned in the “Get to Know Gen Y” sec­tion above. Start an “employee of the month” pro­gram to spot­light top performers.

    Tuition Reim­burse­ment – Gen Y looks for oppor­tu­ni­ties to grow and advance their skills. Inform employ­ees about train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties or tuition reim­burse­ment pro­grams. Employ­ees will feel you are invested in them and they will learn new skills to apply to their jobs.

    Work­ing Lunches –Offer a free lunch once a month or once a quar­ter, what­ever is fea­si­ble for your com­pany. This gives employ­ees an oppor­tu­nity to social­ize and get to know their co-workers (an attribute that con­tributes to an ideal Gen Y work environment).

    If you’re uncer­tain these perks would appeal to Gen Y, offer an anony­mous sur­vey! Give employ­ees an oppor­tu­nity to tell you what perks they want to see offered.

    Employee reten­tion is an ini­tia­tive to start imme­di­ately. Your staff wants to feel com­fort­able in their work envi­ron­ment and you want them to stay, so make adjust­ments now to keep your staff engaged. If you’re inter­ested in learn­ing more about employee reten­tion, down­load this free white paper on Best Prac­tices for Reduc­ing Employee Turnover.

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    Insurance Customer Service: Five Tips for Serving Older Callers

    May 1st, 2012

    As a large por­tion of the baby boomer pop­u­la­tion pre­pares to retire, call cen­ters in the insur­ance indus­try will field more calls from older cus­tomers. To help agents suc­cess­fully serve this base of cus­tomers, they need to learn skills and spe­cific tac­tics to help them suc­ceed. Use the fol­low­ing five tips to coach your employ­ees in how to suc­cess­fully serve older mem­bers when they call about their insurance:

    Tip #1: Speak Clearly and Enun­ci­ate

    When help­ing older callers, agents may notice that a mem­ber has dif­fi­culty hear­ing and under­stand­ing what the agent says. Employ­ees need to keep in mind that even some­one with per­fect hear­ing can have trou­ble under­stand­ing what the per­son on the other end of the line is say­ing. As insur­ance rep­re­sen­ta­tives han­dle more calls from older cus­tomers, they need to keep the fol­low­ing in mind:

    • Speak louder
    • Speak more slowly
    • Enun­ci­ate the end­ings of words (s, ing, d, etc.)

    An appro­pri­ate vol­ume may dif­fer from cus­tomer to cus­tomer. Let employ­ees know it’s per­fectly appro­pri­ate to ask the caller, “Can you hear me ok?” It’s bet­ter to ask for clar­i­fi­ca­tion than assume the mem­ber under­stands every­thing that’s being said.

    Tip #2: Set Expec­ta­tions for the Call

    When cus­tomers call an insur­ance com­pany, they need to have account infor­ma­tion and per­sonal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers handy. To help older mem­bers through the process of the call, coach employ­ees to set expec­ta­tions. For exam­ple, at the begin­ning of the call, agents should let the cus­tomer know what infor­ma­tion they will need and what they will be able to accom­plish dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion. If an employee is not autho­rized to han­dle some aspect of the member’s request, he or she needs to inform the mem­ber up front. If mem­bers under­stand what infor­ma­tion they need to have acces­si­ble and what they can expect to get out of the call, agents can reduce con­fu­sion and com­pli­ca­tions. This will both reduce call length and increase mem­ber satisfaction.

    Tip #3: Be Patient and Guide the Call

    Another dif­fer­ence insur­ance rep­re­sen­ta­tives may find while deal­ing with older callers is their speed at pro­cess­ing infor­ma­tion and respond­ing to ques­tions. Mem­bers may have trou­ble artic­u­lat­ing why they are call­ing or have trou­ble remem­ber­ing where their account infor­ma­tion is stored. If this hap­pens, the agent needs to be patient and empathize. The agent needs to assist mem­bers by ask­ing ques­tions to guide the con­ver­sa­tion and help them process what is being asked of them.

    Agents need to be espe­cially cau­tious of assum­ing they know what the caller needs. When a mem­ber is slow to respond or can’t artic­u­late why he or she is call­ing, it’s easy for a rep­re­sen­ta­tive to rush through the call, assum­ing they know how to solve the customer’s prob­lem. This is not the cor­rect approach, because the cus­tomer will call back and end up wast­ing more time than if the agent took time to under­stand the caller’s issue in the first place.

    Tip #4: Con­trol the Call

    Con­trol­ling the call is an extremely impor­tant skill for serv­ing older insur­ance cus­tomers. While the rep­re­sen­ta­tive needs to be polite and let the client share infor­ma­tion to help them uncover needs, it’s impor­tant to keep mem­bers focused on the rea­son for the call. If callers stray off topic, coach insur­ance rep­re­sen­ta­tives to lis­ten for appro­pri­ate times to cut into the conversation.

    Tip #5: Clar­ify Understanding

    The final tip is to always clar­ify the agent and the cus­tomer have the same under­stand­ing of what was dis­cussed. For exam­ple, if the agent has just explained a com­plex insur­ance ben­e­fit, the agent should give mem­bers the oppor­tu­nity to clar­ify their under­stand­ing by say­ing some­thing like, “Did I explain that clearly?” or, “That was pretty com­plex. What ques­tions can I answer for you?” This bet­ter serves mem­bers and will elim­i­nate call­backs into the center.

    These five tips will help your insur­ance call cen­ter agents address the needs of older mem­bers. If your call cen­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tives need more assis­tance, read this blog post that addresses cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing and ongo­ing learn­ing for con­tin­u­ous improvement.

     

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    Customer Service in the Insurance Industry: the Baby Boomers Are Coming

    April 17th, 2012

    With the num­ber of retir­ing baby boomers increas­ing, it’s time to assess cus­tomer ser­vice in the insur­ance indus­try. Is your insur­ance call cen­ter ready to serve this pop­u­la­tion? Do your call cen­ter employ­ees know how to uncover needs, rec­om­mend plans, and explain cov­er­age? The Baby Boomers are com­ing, are you ready?

    Prepar­ing for this increase in ser­vice needs takes three impor­tant steps: hire qual­ity agents, train your staff, and cre­ate an envi­ron­ment of con­tin­u­ous learning.

    Step One — Hir­ing: What qual­i­ties do you look for?

    Have you heard of the say­ing, “Hire the smile; train the skills?” Cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tives are truly the voice of your com­pany. When you’re look­ing to hire new employ­ees to pre­pare for the increase in ser­vice needs, keep the fol­low­ing five char­ac­ter­is­tics of the HEART Model in mind:

    Hear and Under­stand: Does the prospec­tive insur­ance employee show good lis­ten­ing skills? Does he or she ask clar­i­fy­ing ques­tions to ensure understanding?

    Expect the Best: Does the can­di­date exhibit a pos­i­tive out­look? Is he or she excited about the prospect of work­ing for your company?

    Act with Integrity: Can the appli­cant give exam­ples show­ing how he or she has responded with integrity in prior work or school situations?

    Respect Diver­sity: Is the can­di­date open-minded? Ask the appli­cant to share how he or she would han­dle a call with cus­tomers from diverse back­grounds, of var­i­ous ages, and with dif­fer­ent health care needs.

    Tran­scend Your­self: Ask the prospec­tive employee to share some cur­rent goals. Is he or she will­ing and inter­ested in learn­ing new skills?

    Step Two — Train­ing: How do you pre­pare employ­ees to succeed?

    When hir­ing new employ­ees, it’s impor­tant to equip them with the skills to achieve suc­cess. Call cen­ter agents need to be able to serve callers quickly in a way that leaves cus­tomers sat­is­fied and pre­vents call­backs. How do you achieve these results? Pro­vide cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing! Train­ing will improve cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion scores, reduce the num­ber of call esca­la­tions, and keep insur­ance rep­re­sen­ta­tives engaged and motivated.

    Step Three — Ongo­ing Learn­ing: How do you set a prece­dent for con­tin­u­ous improvement?

    Once new employ­ees are meet­ing call qual­ity stan­dards, train­ing shouldn’t stop. In order to keep your staff per­form­ing at their opti­mal poten­tial, cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for con­tin­u­ous improve­ment through ongo­ing coach­ing, brown-bag learn­ing lunches, on-the-job activ­i­ties, and men­tor­ing pro­grams. Stud­ies have shown that effec­tive learn­ing depends largely on what hap­pens after train­ing is over. This is the stage when the ideas learned in train­ing are rein­forced and become a part of the employee’s skillset.

    If you want to be pre­pared to serve the aging baby boomer pop­u­la­tion, imple­ment these three steps. Agents will have the con­fi­dence to answer insur­ance ques­tions and serve cus­tomers to their best abil­ity. You will not only have sat­is­fied cus­tomers, you will have sat­is­fied employees.

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    Customer Service That "Wows"

    April 3rd, 2012

     

    Have you ever had a cus­tomer ser­vice expe­ri­ence that left you say­ing “wow”?

    The other day, I had one of those “wow” expe­ri­ences. I was stay­ing at a hotel in Hol­ly­wood for work. The only way to park was through valet. The atten­dant asked me for my name and wrote it on a tag to hang from my rear view mir­ror. I gath­ered my lug­gage from the car and walked into the hotel. I made my way to the recep­tion desk and as I approached the counter, the employee behind the desk said, Sarah? I was blown away! I even said, “Wow! How impressive!”

    Work­ing in the cus­tomer ser­vice indus­try has made me extremely sen­si­tive to ser­vice issues. The employee that knew my name wowed me. So how do you go about cre­at­ing expe­ri­ences that wow customers?

    Set Your Ser­vice Apart from the Crowd

    Some­times, it’s the lit­tle details that can set ser­vice apart from the com­pe­ti­tion. Think about what touches you can add to the cus­tomer experience.

    For exam­ple, the restau­rant Roy’s has this con­cept mas­tered. They include per­sonal mes­sages in their menu when cus­tomers cel­e­brate spe­cial occa­sions, they pull chairs out for guests to be seated, and they refold cus­tomers’ nap­kins when they step away from the table.  These ges­tures may be small, but when I had the plea­sure to dine at Roy’s, I noticed their effort! To learn more about the lit­tle touches that can boost the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, read this blog post.

    Exceed Expec­ta­tions and Build Oppor­tu­ni­ties for Repeat Business

    Keep in mind, a pos­i­tive cus­tomer expe­ri­ence can lead to repeat busi­ness. Employ­ees need to be pre­pared to answer and respond to cus­tomer ques­tions and requests with grace and eager­ness to serve. James Barnes, author of Secrets of Cus­tomer Rela­tion­ship Man­age­ment, says, “A typ­i­cal busi­ness only hears from 4% of its dis­sat­is­fied customers—the other 96% leave, 91% for good.”

    Set the prece­dent with employ­ees and cus­tomers that feed­back is appre­ci­ated, both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive. If you’re not hear­ing feed­back, I promise some­one is. It’s more ben­e­fi­cial to hear the com­plaints, so you have a chance to respond both ver­bally and through improve­ments in ser­vice standards.

    Offer Con­sis­tent Ser­vice by Imple­ment­ing Training

    If ser­vice is truly a pri­or­ity, ensure you pro­vide con­sis­tent ser­vice across all depart­ments. Imag­ine what it would be like to walk into that same hotel men­tioned at the begin­ning of this post, expe­ri­ence supe­rior ser­vice at the front desk, make my way to the restau­rant to grab a quick bite to eat, and be treated like an impo­si­tion rather than an oppor­tu­nity to serve. My over­all impres­sion of the com­pany would plum­met. Remem­ber, all it takes is one bad expe­ri­ence to taint a customer’s impres­sion of a company.

    So how do you pro­vide con­sis­tent ser­vice? Train employ­ees! Cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing teaches employ­ees how to com­mu­ni­cate pos­i­tively and pro­fes­sion­ally with cus­tomers. If every­one is on the same page, you can ensure con­sis­tent ser­vice across every department.

    Out­line the Impor­tance of “Wow” Cus­tomer Service

    Some­times it’s hard for employ­ees to see how the ser­vice they offer affects cus­tomers. Play a lit­tle game with your employ­ees and have them keep track of cus­tomer ser­vice expe­ri­ences they’ve encoun­tered good and bad. Once they start to pay atten­tion to the way dif­fer­ent styles of ser­vice affect them, they will start to under­stand why the way they treat cus­tomers is important.

    Photo cour­tesy of Camdiluv

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