4 Steps to Deliver the Helpful, Professional, Reassuring CX Your Customers Need Most Right Now
At a time when leadership teams of just about every brand in America are brainstorming ways to encourage customers to return, re-engage, and resume purchasing, there is a growing recognition that one of their greatest obstacles is an emotional one.
Customers are spooked. They aren’t just afraid of COVID-19. They’re feeling unsteady, and unsure of what the future holds. And most human beings on the planet right now feel at least a little bit immersed in worry, mistrust, and grief over all that has been shaken up and lost over the past few months.
As a result, our customers approach us now with a deeper need than ever to believe in the people with whom they interact, do business, and place their trust. Now, more than ever, our customers are listening for a reassuring voice, a willingness to help, and a level of competence that gives them confidence that they can depend on us.
So, while all of us in our executive leadership teams look at the data, project the future, and do our level best to re-design our business plans, the truth is, we can’t afford to take our eyes off the here and now. Micah Solomon captured that critical day-to-day reality in his extremely smart, solution-oriented article for Forbes.
It’s an important and timely reminder.
As you read it, I hope you’ll take away at least two critical messages as you work so hard to ramp back up: first, the obvious one: you can’t afford an agent like the character so realistically captured, below; and two: while you’re working at the 20,000 foot level on your re-envisioned plans for the rest of 2020 and beyond, don’t forget to keep someone’s eyes on the everyday here and now of how your customers are experiencing your brand. That future you’re planning depends on it.
The 1 Customer-Facing Employee Who Can Bring Down An Entire Customer Service Operation
I hope you don’t have this employee in your organization–but if you do, you probably have no idea that they’re there, gleefully alienating customers 9-5. I’m talking about an unfortunate class of employee I sometimes uncover as a customer service consultant: the situational tyrant, the customer-facing employee who takes the power they have to say “no” and runs with it.
While most anti-customer behavior is served up by well-intentioned, if misguided, employees who lack training or finesse, there is a more unsavory scenario to watch out for. Any organization or department can become a breeding ground for what I call (in my customer service consulting practice) situational tyrants—employees who have the power to say no within their tiny kingdoms, and who exercise that power every chance they get. When a customer is looking for even a tiny bit of flexibility, a situational tyrant will slam the rulebook down with sadistic pleasure.
Here are four ways to avoid breeding and empowering situational tyrants.
- Hire appropriately. Strive to select applicants for customer-facing positions who have the requisite personality traits for superior customer service. (More on hiring the best customer-facing employeeshere.)
- Don’t misunderstand, and don’t let your employees misunderstand, empowerment. The kind of empowerment that great companies embrace shouldn’t be misinterpreted as a license to kiss off a challenging or “noncompliant” (as they say in healthcare) customer. On the contrary, the kind of empowerment you should be encouraging employees to exercise should almost always be in favor of a customer. Going against the customer, if it’s necessary, should require deliberation and team or management involvement. Consider adopting Commerce Bank’s approach: “It takes one employee to say yes, two to say no.”
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
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