Category Archives for "Customer Experience"

5 Ways to Improve Performance

Every business leader and executive I speak with talks about performance.   Financial performance, people performance, marketing performance, sales performance, operational performance and so on.

Great performance requires people to be onboard, engaged, aligned and passionate about the vision, purpose, passion, goals, personality and promise of the business – and this is one of the biggest challenges within an organization.

MagicianPerformances, on the other hand, are delivered by employees, managers and leaders.  They are also delivered by customers, vendors, supporters, investors, partners and franchisees.

In other words, all people play a role in the success of a business.

The Theater references don’t end here…

Every business has a stage which is set by its marketing team and reinforced by employees and customers.  When employees see themselves as performers and their actions as performances, it’s easier to see how great behaviors and decisions make an impact.  (It’s also more fun!)

Great Experience

Leaders and managers are also challenged to improve the performance experience to add more value to customers, to differentiate their business from competitors, to improve relationships and to increase profits – while striving to deliver consistent performances regardless of who is on stage at any given moment.

 

 

Performance matters, regardless of how you define it.

5 Ways to Improve Your Performance

  1. Ensure you have a strong vision, purpose, passion, personality, platform and core values which are easy to share.  Then share it!  All employees need to know where you are headed.  All employees and customers need to know what you stand for and how you are different.  They will then choose whether to support your business or not.
  2. Review your policies, procedures and decision making criteria to ensure these are in alignment with #1.  If one of your core values is “sense of family” and yet you have departments or silos which compete with each other or don’t speak to each other, then your sense of family is dysfunctional!   If you say that you are customer-centric are you making decisions which support what your customers’ value and are willing to pay for?  If you are all about efficiency, how are you continuously improving it?
  3. Immerse yourself in your performance.  In this definition of performance, you are looking at the roles your people play; how customers and employees act; which “sets” on your “stage” need to be updated and how you can improve the experience delivered to employees and customers.  Think of your business in the theatrical sense to give yourself a different perspective.   Find out what it’s like outside your office.  Get immersed in the experience and ask how it can be better.
  4. Take action.  You’ve identified gaps in performance — both in the traditional business sense and through the eyes of the performers.  Review #1 and #2 and come up with a plan to close the gaps.  Every business will approach the action taking in a different way — just be sure to stay in alignment.
  5. Get help.   You can’t optimize your performance alone.  Involve your employees, customers, supporters, partners, investors and vendors.  Ask for insight.   Remember that your perspective isn’t going to be the same perspective that others have.  Let their input help to guide you.  If you are out of your element or you cannot take on more work, hire someone to manage the project or various parts of the project.

Performance is a one of those great words which means different things to different people.  Remember, your business is similar to theater.  You create the stage, you choose the performers, you deliver performances and your people act in certain ways.  Each of these elements impacts your business performance.  Improve the theater and improve your business.

How do you define performance?  How do you improve it?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

5 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Improve Your Customer Experience

Improving Your Customer Experience is Easier When You Understand the Following:

  1. Customer Experience is in every business decision.
  2. The only true differentiation between competitors is the Customer Experience they deliver.
  3. Your brand IS your Customer Experience.
  4. Everyone is IN marketing  whether they realize it or not
  5. Customers complain when there is a disconnect between what you promise in your marketing and the experience they receive.

Let’s Look at an Example:

Restaurant A is next door to Restaurant B in tourist row.  They are both Mom and Pop restaurants which  sell similar products — food and drinks — but Restaurant A has a waiting line to get seated while Restaurant B is empty.   Why is this?

  • Restaurant A’s menu is more slightly expensive than Restaurant B.
  • Restaurant A’s servers are rushed off their feet but they are taking time to be hospitable to their diners.  Restaurant B’s servers are sitting at a table in the back tapping away at their phones.
  • Restaurant A is colorful, with clean white table cloths and sparkling glasses.  Restaurant B isn’t as colorful, its glasses aren’t quite as sparkling and the table cloths are showing their age.
  • Because Restaurant A is cooking for its guests, the aroma of deliciousness makes the tummy growl.  Restaurant B isn’t cooking, so no-one knows what to expect.
  • The signage for Restaurant A is appealing,  Restaurant B has signage that needs repair

People make decisions based on emotion and rationalize them with logic.  In the eyes of the tourists — who have to make a decision with limited knowledge — Restaurant A is a better choice for all sorts of reasons and they must be right because others have chosen it too.  The social proof convinces them to join the line.

What Could Restaurant B Do Differently?  

Do you know your customers?Customer Experience is in EVERY business decision — the decision to permit the staff to sit at a table in the back, rather than being outside with great big welcoming smiles on their faces while they invite people to check out the menu and perhaps offer a little taste of what they are serving.   By doing this they are not only marketing — building Attention, Interest, Desire and Action — but they are drawing people into their customer experience.

They need to decide who they are, who they want to serve, what those people are looking for and deliver it.

They need to fix the signage, replace the table cloths and shine the glasses before putting them on the table because people will make assumptions about the quality of the food and service based on those visuals.    They are marketing to the world that they either aren’t interested in the details or they aren’t able to invest in their business, neither of which appeals to people who want a good experience.

They need to find a hook — something that people want which is different and more valuable than the other restaurant offers.   They need for people to experience what they have to offer.  They need to show social proof to get people to come in, which will lead to more people following.   They need to add some life to their restaurant — no-one wants to eat at an empty restaurant.  They need to start investing in a consistent experience so that people know what to expect.

5 Ways To Improve Your Customer Experience Experience

  1. Know who you are serving and what they value.  Be clear on who you want to attract and who you want to repel.  Then find out what the people you want to attract value and what they don’t.  Ask them what you should Start, Stop, Increase and Decrease.  Use the T-Form, which you can download here
  2. Find out how people decide to do business with you.   What influences their decisions?  How did they find you?  What journey did they take to sort through their options?  What were the moments of truth for them?
  3. Follow-up after the sale.  Very few people do that, so you immediately differentiate your business from others.  Follow-up to be sure they are happy.  Ask if they have any questions you can answer.  Inquire about any other needs they have (great time for a cross-sell or up-sell).  Create a follow-up schedule.  What will you do, when will you do it and how will you follow-up?
  4. Train your staff.  I know it sounds like an absolutely “Captain Obvious” statement but so many businesses are cutting back on training, which is the wrong approach.  Your customers tend to know more about their options and your competition than you do — after all, it’s in their best interest to make an informed decision.  However, when they ask questions they have been unable to resolve during their research, your staff have to be able to answer and/or find someone who can quickly respond.
  5. Align your marketing with your customer experience.  If there is a disconnect, either change the experience or change your marketing.  Remember your brand IS your customer experience, so ensure your brand promise is indeed what your staff deliver — consistently and across all touch points.

 

Share your thoughts below in the comments…

Customer Experience Boston Pizza Style

2015-01-15 13.37.17Today I had lunch at the Boston Pizza in Drumheller, Alberta.   If you’ve read my blast about the Boston Pizza in Courtenay, British Columbia in August, you know how unhappy I was with the customer experience there.

As I walked to the front door I saw this sign and I groaned.  “Really?”  I thought, “… we’ll see”.

Obviously this reaction indicates that I am a customer experience specialist who is a bit jaded — particularly when it comes to campaigns created at the corporate level.  The reason is that so many corporate leaders have no idea what is going on in the field.  They create policies, processes, strategies and profit-enhancing decisions without understanding how it impacts the customer experience and the employees who deliver it.  After all, every decision made from the Board Room, to the front-line, to the back-room and everywhere in between either positively or negatively impacts the customer experience.

From the moment I walked through the door I realized how wrong I was — this time 🙂

A woman greeted us with a great big smile   — not one of those forced smiles that those in service jobs often display.  When I joined my husband after a quick pitstop, this woman — our server — was waiting at our table with a great big hospitable smile.  A short while later she came back to ask what we’d like to drink and to explain the specials with gusto.  Today’s soup was chicken gumbo — I never remember what the specials are after I’ve left a restaurant — but I did today!

When she brought my tea and our water she realized she’d forgotten my husband’s coffee.  However, she made a little joke about keeping me happy and went to get his coffee.  We placed our orders and then she popped back and asked if my salad was a lunch size, which it was.  She agreed it was a good choice because the salads are huge.

Throughout our dining experience the hospitality that our server exuded was exceptional.  She seemed genuinely happy to serve us.  Sh2015-01-15 13.35.49e genuinely took care of us.  Her smiles were genuine.

I, of course, was watching her like a hawk.  I wondered if she would be like this with others too — or did she just take a liking to us?  Well, I was happy to see that the next guests were treated like family too.  She was helpful and patient as they decided what to order.  She made recommendations after asking what they liked and what they didn’t.  She also started a conversation with them, asking if they were visiting, where they were visiting from and what they were going to see while there.  In other words — she is the poster child for what hospitality is.

I decided to ask her if I could take her photo and I explained that I was going to write a blog post about our experience.  I told her about the experience in Courtenay and I told her I wanted to share what great service was all about.   She asked me where this was going to be, so I gave her my URL.   I joked about my makeshift purse and she joked right back with me.  I felt like we’d have become great friends if I lived in Drumheller!

As we were leaving, I took the photo of the poster above and just as we were about to get in the car, she came out of the restaurant and asked us if I could share my post with www.bostonpizza.com.  I said “for sure” and I’ll post on the Facebook Page too.

So here is recognition for a job well done, Cheryl S.  Keep on smiling and keep on sharing your great hospitality to those who come for a meal.

What lessons do you take from this experience?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Customer Experience Failure – Boston Pizza Style

I have always been a champion for the customer, which is why I look at the customer experience first when I help business leaders to transform their businesses to become more profitable.

People-Power-Profit-300x35

People can power profit — or they can destroy it. And sadly — more often than necessary — they make decisions to destroy it.

Tonight is a case in point.

I have taken my first day off in ages. It’s a glorious, hot, sunny Sunday here in Courtenay, BC. It’s also a long weekend. And here’s where Boston Pizza comes into the picture.

It’s 6pm and I’m well into the “relaxation mode” I had planned for, so I went online to place an order for delivery. I’d been building myself up to have my absolute favourite dish — the Chilpotle Chicken Salad — for a few hours. I ordered 2 of them for delivery.

2 Seconds after I ordered online I got a call – which is normal and appreciated. However, this time the message was “I see you chose debit at the door as your payment”. I said “No, it’s credit, which is what I chose. There was only an option for cash or credit payment at the door.”

I was then told that they could not deliver to me because the machines for accepting payments at the door were broken. If I have cash it’s fine.

Okay… think about this for a second as it’s a classic Customer Experience Fail.

#1. I was able to place my order online. Why can’t I pay online? (my guess is that it will require extra administration on behalf of Boston Pizza — guess what? I don’t care!) The customer experience is what matters across all touch points in the customer journey. So figure out the logistics behind the scene and don’t make any decision a burden for your customers.

#2. Why are the machines broken? Every single one of them? On a long weekend? On a hot and sunny long weekend?

and most importantly…

#3. Why didn’t the gal say “I’m really sorry but we’re experiencing problems with our machines for payment at the door. Can you give me your credit card number and I’ll punch it into my machine here? Then you can sign when we deliver your meal.”

or failing all of the above, as a back-up measure…

#4. Have one of those old fashioned machines with the “cha-ching, cha-ching” that takes an imprint of the credit card and you sign it? I travelled to Mexico a few months ago and they still use them there. My credit card was charged just fine too.

So, before I go off to spend 10 minutes making a salad — I’ll share these parting words:

The majority of customers will not return after a poor customer experience. Often it only takes one poor experience to lose a customer.

Many people (myself included) will happily share customer experience fails online via social media, review sites and blog posts.

Boston Pizza — and every other business — needs to start thinking about the customer experience as the only true differentiation between itself and the myriad of other choices in each market.

Customer Experience is in every decision.” ~ Carol Wain

3From the decisions at head office — those who made a website that allows you to order but not pay — to those in the field who don’t think about how they can make a work-around to ensure their customers have an awesome experience, it’s time to rethink what you are doing.

  1. Think about how your decisions impact your customers and ask before implementing.
  2. Have designated staff to be the Voice of the Customer and ensure those people have a seat at the Executive Table. Ideally, all employees should be encouraged to watch and listen for customer reaction and are invited to share what they learn.
  3. Train your employees to ensure your customers’ experience is as expected. Of course you have procedures and systems but there are times when employees should be permitted discretion to go outside of them.
  4. Have a back-up plan
  5. Ensure your customer journey is consistent across all touch points

 

Update:  August 11, 2014  — Here’s what has happened since my initial experience.

After I wrote this post and shared it on LinkedIn I went to Boston Pizza’s Facebook Page and posted there.

I applaud the community manager for responding and suggesting we take the conversation offline (which I teach!)

I wrote a very long email with suggestions and counter-arguments to some of the “policies”.

I was assured that someone would be in touch shortly.

I received a phone call from the restaurant owner, Gary, who was on vacation at the time.  He left his cell phone# for me to call.

I called back a day or two later and we had a conversation about the experience.

I explained my Customer Experience passion and that I can’t help but speak up when things are going badly.

He spoke for a while to explain the problem (again, as the customer, I really don’t care that TD Bank had screwed up so none of the machines were working).

I was sitting there ever so silently wondering if he was going to ever get to “me” rather than an explanation about why I experienced what I did.

I also wondered when he would accept ownership (or if anyone would).

I wondered what — if any — offer would be made to “make it up to me”.

I was waiting and waiting…

And then Gary said “I would like to offer you gift certificates to make it up to you”.

He also suggested I may be able to help them improve the customer experience (oh hell yes, I can!)

I was not angry — I came from a place of  “sharing and caring” while I also wanted a resolve.

I explained how most people wouldn’t give a second chance and how important customer experience was.  We chatted a bit about my services and we ended the call.

Fast forward to today — exactly one week to the day I attempted one more time.

What a nightmare!

Today, I placed my order online.

I received a call a few min later to confirm the order.

I corrected the delivery time — I didn’t want it in 50 min, I wanted delivery at 6:30.

So at 6:35 the delivery person arrived (oooh… he smelled badly… not good in the food service industry … although he was pleasant enough as a delivery person.)

This time the order was for one Chilpotle Chicken Salad and one personal cheese pizza….

…………Except the “chicken and bacon” part of the order was missing…………

You’ve got to be kidding me!  The Customer Experience is actually worse this time!

6:38   I called the restaurant and explained what happened.  I received an apology and a promise the chicken would be delivered soon.  I pressed to find out what “soon” meant.   I was told 15 – 20 min depending on traffic.

6:39  I emailed the email address Gary gave me when I spoke to him

7:15   I called the restaurant again and apparently the driver was there and he’d be leaving with my chicken right away.  I asked to speak to the owner.  Gary is still on vacation.  I asked to speak to the supervisor.  I explained today’s situation and last week’s situation and I had spoken to Gary.  She attempted to correct me that perhaps I spoke to “Steven”.  I said “no, I contacted Head Office and Gary gave me his cell phone #.”  She seemed surprised.

I’ll cut to the learning points:

  • I discovered during this call — this is a common occurrence — the onus is on the host/hostess to ensure the order is complete but they don’t.  Why is the problem common?  and…. Why on earth do they share this?
  • The supervisor does not have the authority to authorize a refund — this time I’m expecting one — tomorrow she’ll talk to the office manager to see what can be done.
  • The delivery guy showed up with my new salad and he said words to the effect that he only delivers what he’s given.
  • It is now 1 hour after I asked for my salad to be delivered… 45 min after I was promised the chicken would be delivered.
  • I’m actually surprised I haven’t “Lost it” by this point — maybe because I knew I’d be using this as an example in my teaching for years to come 😉

Whoa!  Whoa!  Whoa!

You’ve got to be kidding me…  Remember, the customer doesn’t give a sh*t about excuses and who isn’t doing what.  The customer expects to experience the brand promise and to receive what they bought in a timely manner with the quality promised.

Boston Pizza desperately needs a Customer Experience overhaul — I’m here and I’ll consult with corporate and franchisees.  I’ll also train staff.

Consistency is missing — as is a focus on the Customer Experience — instead, the culture appears to be one of “pass the buck”.

In the restaurant business, this combination is a death sentence… perhaps my first best-selling book Guerrilla Tourism Marketing might be useful as the first step!

What Suggestions Do You Have for Businesses That Have Challenges Like This?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Want to Make Your Customers Feel Special? Thank Them!

TD Bank Takes a Page from WestJet — Combining a personalized Thank You with great PR

Watch and you can’t help but feel moved.

This video shows the power of a personalized thank you.    How are you thanking your customers — particularly your long-time, most profitable customers?

How do you show your customers that they are valuable to you?

It seems like such an easy question to answer, doesn’t it?  So why aren’t more people doing it?

In his book, The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk talks about the Joie de Vivre hotels in California.  As part of their Dream Maker program, the hotels ask each guest to provide a significant amount of personal information upon registration so that they can find ways to give their guests a memorable experience.

This program challenges the employees to come up with ways to provide exceptional guest service.

Gary tells a story about a reservations manager, Jennifer Kemper, at the Hotel Durant in Berkeley, which incidentally is the number three hotel in Berkeley according to TripAdvisor.  One of the hotel guests needed multiple, long-term stays because her son, a 20 year old Berkeley student, was undergoing chemotherapy treatment while trying to continue with his studies.

The guest needed to visit often to help her son during his sessions but some of the dates that she needed were not available.

Jennifer told her guest that she would be taken care of but she did not stop there.

Jennifer thought of the guest’s plight and determined that she would be a great candidate for the Dream Maker program.  A few days later, Jennifer went and bought a card, sunflowers, chamomile tea and a dragonfly mug with a built-in strainer.  The card said “For a loving mother who deserves to relax.  Your family is in our thoughts and prayers.”

Naturally, this touched the heart of the guest, who continued to stay at that property until her son graduated.  This example of a fantastic customer experience also shows how a simple touch can have a viral effect.  Imagine how many people heard about this story from the guest and her son.

Thank-You-300x199That caring, attentive service, which is one of the guerrilla marketing principles, provided exposure to this hotel they could never afford through traditional marketing.  Talk about a win-win situation.

The appreciation you show can take many forms – from saying “thank you” to following up after the sale, to responding quickly to requests or questions to finding a special gift for them for a special occasion.

 

 

How can you / do you thank your customers in a meaningful, personalized way to make them feel special and appreciated?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

Enlightened Capitalists Focus on Customer Experience

5 Reasons to Focus on Customer Experience  (CX)happy-customer 300x300

  1. Increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  2. Decrease Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
  3. Support an increase in employee engagement
  4. Create brand advocates and greater loyalty
  5. Differentiate your company among competitors

CX Insights

  • In the age of the customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do.  (Forrester Research Navigate the Future of Customer Service in 2014)
  • By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. (Customers 2020 Report)
  • In a poll of enterprise contact centers by Deloitte, 82% view the customer experience as a competitive differentiator, and view accuracy and quality of information provided (82%), as well as ease of interaction (73%), as the most important attributes of a quality customer experience. (Deloitte’s 2013 Global Contact Center Survey Report)
  • In 2013, 62% of global consumers switched service providers due to poor customer service experiences, up 4% from last year.  (Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey)

Customer Experience Process

  1. Secret-shop in person, on the phone and online – you need to know what it’s like to be your customer
  2. Understand your culture – does it support a great customer experience?
  3. Obtain Board and C-suite commitment to improving customer experience
  4. Review your customer complaints / testimonials / online mentions – where are the gaps?
  5. Ask customers what their needs are.
  6. Allow customers to state their preferences for the communication they have with you
  7. Use a combination of high-tech and high-touch – high-tech to easily disseminate data collected about each customer and to create models for ideal customers and what they may need.  High-touch to personify the customer experience.  Strive for consistency – each and every time, the customer needs to know what they will experience – regardless of employee, regardless of location, regardless of time of day
  8. Ensure that all touch points are reliable – websites, phone, in-person, email etc.  They must all deliver a consistent experience based on your brand promise
  9. Eliminate silos within your company and promote cross-department communication as it relates to increasing the customer experience
  10. Build a community around your business and your business around a community
  11. Create a Voice of Customer (VOC) program – and always be reviewing social conversations, online reviews and testimonials, customer surveys, call center and customer service feedback, and feedback from tech-support and retail reps
  12. Realize it’s a game of measures that has meaning to your customers and employees – that there is not one “perfect” measure for customer experience

Customer Experience KPIs

The 3 main Customer Experience KPIs are Acquisition, Retention and Profit

Acquisition = Goal is Lower CAC–measure referrals, social mentions, efficiency of marketing campaigns, conversion rate

Retention = Goal is Increased CLV – measure average order value, average frequency of purchase, average length of “customer” (how long they are your customers), average resolution time for a complaint, cost of loyalty programs, and mark-downs for repeat purchases or to avoid loss of customer

Profit = Goal is Lower Cost to Service – measure revenue per employee, gross profit per employee

5 Steps to Success

Define – Define what objectives you want to achieve, what KPIs you want to impact, what touch points you are focusing on for this initiative (don’t attempt to do all at once!), prioritize your objectives, define the timing, identify resources, allocate budgets, identify return on investment expected

Discover – Map your customer’s journey from the moment they first hear about you through to repeat purchases.  Be sure to include customer experience perspective from employees in all departments – not just “customer service”.  Also be sure to include data from relationship surveys and transactional surveys of your customers

Design – Using best practices, discovery insight and your objectives, design a customer experience plan

Implement – Implement your plan, educate your employees, engage in two-way dialogues with employees, encourage two-way dialogues between customers and employees

Monitor – Monitor employee responses, customer reaction, customer learning, feedback, impact to KPIs and adjust as needed

Our Role

  1. Coordinate with your project managers, VOC team, senior leaders, management team, supervisors and trainers for requirements
  2. Define – what are your objectives? … Identify KPIs, create your baseline
  3. Discover – what is it really like to be your customer? … Coordinate with VOC team and test that VOC insight matches employee insight and customer reality
  4. Create your transition plan with input from all stakeholders
  5. Implement and support training, coaching, mentoring and facilitating
  6. Coordinate with your team to report on results and make appropriate adjustments
  7. Leave you with the insights and practices to continue to grow your customer experience

If you’d like to know more about how to transform your business or reinvent your life, contact Carol or check out how to work with Carol

What are some of the ways you focus on customer experience in your business?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

 

The Ever Fickle Customer and Why Customer Experience is Key

thumbs up thumbs downThis blog post was going to be about the nearly perfect customer experience I initially experienced when I rented a car from Enterprise a couple of weeks ago.  I got busy and didn’t get around to writing the post — which, in retrospect, was perfect.

A back-story is in order:  My car — a Mazda 6 which I am reluctant to upgrade because we are preparing to go on a worldwide adventure for a few years —  was making funky noises on a road trip to Whistler in December.  Fortunately, my hubby knows his way around an engine and he thought to check the oil.   We were down to 1 litre, even though we’ve been getting the car maintenance done at the local Mazda dealership since we bought it — uggh.

Ever since then, I’ve been reluctant to take the car on a big road trip, especially if I’m by myself, so I decided to rent a car for a meeting in Victoria, which is a 3 hour drive away.

I was bowled over by my initial experience with the car rental.  I’d booked using CarRentals.com and I really wasn’t expecting much.  However, the day before I was to pick up the car I got a phone call from a representative from Enterprise thanking me for booking and asking if I needed a pick-up.  I hadn’t considered getting picked up but when the offer came I said “sure”.  Pick me up at 1pm.

The pick-up was late — by about 45 min — which was not okay.  I know it’s a small operation but when people have an appointment and need a car, they need to be picked up on time.  Fortunately, I’d given myself an hour “buffer” between when I wanted to leave and when I needed to leave, so I was still able to make my appointment — (only “just” though because I’d left later and I hit rush-hour traffic).

The driver was friendly and apart from the delay, the pick-up was welcome.

When I arrived at Enterprise, the representative was great — and attempted to get me out of the office quickly to make up for the delay.  The guy who phoned me came out of the “back office” and introduced himself, shaking my hand and thanking me.  I was willing to forgive the lateness.

The rental itself went well — I drove 6 hours that day with no complaints.

When I took the car back the next day, there was a sign on the door which indicated they’d be back in 15 minutes — so I went to the coffee shop.  When I returned, the 2 employees who had welcomed me the day before were walking towards the cars and didn’t see me arrive.

I entered the premise — stepping over a small red bucket, a cloth and a spray bottle, which were sitting right in front of the one door out of two which were unlocked.  I waited a few minutes before the guy who had phoned me and welcomed me the day before returned.   He was surprised to see me waiting but quickly “returned” the car.

He asked how they could do better and by now I was no longer excited.

As I was leaving, I had to step over the bucket etc. again (which he had done himself twice — once to go outside to inspect the car — the other time when he came back inside).  I asked him why they were there and I was told that he was attempting to get the windows cleaned but they were busy.

What appears to have happened here is that the initial “wow” was all dictated by either corporate policy or corporate training but there was a disconnect in the rest of the experience.  Again, I realize it’s a small location and there isn’t enough demand to keep multiple people on staff — however, there are opportunities for improvement.

Customer Experience is in Every Business Decision

Next Rental – Approximately 1 week later

My daughter phoned from the ferry to say she was coming early and her friend couldn’t pick her up for hours — and considering my engine was now on the garage floor thanks to hubby, I decided to book a rental car again from Enterprise.  I showed up 15 minutes later and the car was not ready, which is understandable and forgivable.

I was asked to sit for 2 minutes while she washed the car (I was skeptical she could wash a car in 2 min but I didn’t say anything).   About 10 minutes later, I told one of the other employees that I was going to get lunch and I’d be back.
This time I was given a FIAT.

However, there was a problem with the car — on the way home the engine light came on and I immediately pulled over.  I called the office and explained the situation.   Again the experience was less than ideal — first response was could I take the car to the Nanaimo office (no — I didn’t know where it was — and besides the check engine light was on!).

We waited by the side of the road for an answer — we got one — someone would pick us up but it would take at least an hour (I expected 90 minutes).

I asked if it was safe to drive back to the mall because the last thing I needed was another engine issue!  I was told it would be fine, so I drove to Chapters and waited for a call to let me know how long it would be until someone picked us up.

Then I got the phone call — there was no-one who could pick us up.  I could call Roadside Assistance on the back of the rental form but it would likely result in a charge (and they wouldn’t get us home) or I could drive the car back — since the Nanaimo office also had problems with their FIATs giving “check engine lights” coming on randomly too.  In fact 2 out of their 5 cars has this issue — why they were still part of the fleet, who knows.

I expressed my concern about driving with a check engine light on and that I didn’t want to be held responsible if the engine failed.  I was assured that I would not be held responsible for anything should it happen.

A simple trip to pick up my daughter at the ferry — about 75 minutes away — turned into a completely stressful event.

I returned the car the next day — Good Friday — when the location was closed.   I put the keys into the return box, only to get them stuck.  I couldn’t open the return box door to see if the keys had dropped.  I phoned and left a message that someone should come and fix the box since I couldn’t confirm the keys had been “dropped” and if anyone else was returning that day they may not be able to return theirs.

(BTW, don’t even get me going on the fuel options — I’ve tried the return it as you got it and the return it empty, neither of them makes sense for the customer.  Enterprise… fill the car up before you rent it!)

Since Friday (it’s now Monday), I have heard nothing — nothing at all — and to me this is the most disturbing part of the customer experience.

Enterprise started off sooo well, yet I had a hell of a time with my last rental and no-one has even called to offer me anything — no thank you for letting them know about the key problem, no thank you for letting them know the check engine light went off when I got back home, no thank you for renting from them, no consideration as to the stress caused by driving a car 100km with a check engine light on, no apologies, no credit — nothing — not a word.

I have another car rental with Enterprise next week — and I wonder why.

Customer Experience Lessons

“Corporate” can dictate policy, procedures and practices and they can be followed with great results (as experienced with the first few  touch points I had, forgiving the delay in pick-up)

However, without a team absolutely on-board with the vision, the mission, the values and — most importantly —  a desire to deliver the best customer experience — a positive customer experience is not going to happen.

Update:  Last weekend I rented again from Enterprise.  I received the phone call 24 hours in advance again — but no offer to pick me up.  I showed up and spoke with the manager, Ryan.   My purse was open and he noticed the contract I had brought with me.  He asked about it and I said that I’d like to talk to him about what happened with that rental.  I explained the stress, the inconvenience etc. and he apologized.  He asked what I’d like — I said, I’d like you to write this rental off.  He said he couldn’t but what he could do is give me this rental (a 3 day rental), an upgrade and a tank of gas.  He also told me I could return the car to the airport which would alleviate the key drop problem I encountered.

I talked about customer experience and why consistency was so important.  I offered suggestions and let him know this is an area of expertise for me.  He kept checking in with me to ensure that he was meeting my expectations.   All, in all, he did everything he could and this experience makes for a great case study about why getting it right in the first place is a lot easier than attempting to fix it afterwards.

If you’d like to know more about how to transform your business or reinvent your life, contact Carol or check out how to work with Carol

What lessons do you take away from this experience?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

F.O.R.C.E. Formula™ – Create More Profit and Time Off in Your Business

FO.R.C.E.-DVD-300x300

The F.O.R.C.E. Formula is all about creating more profit from your current success.

It covers 5 areas of your business

F = Foundation
O = Operations
R = Reach
C = Customer Experience
E = Employee Experience

 

Foundation – Are You and Your Business Aligned?

In my 18 years of hands-on experience as an entrepreneur who specializes in performance improvement and engagement, the success of a business comes from an important place – the “Inner You”. 

You can achieve a level of success without paying attention to the “inner you”.  However, if you are not in alignment with your business at the core of who you are – what your core values are, what your ideal lifestyle looks like and your passions and purpose,  at some point you WILL get stuck.  Some people get stuck getting out of the gate, others get stuck when outside factors test them beyond their “unconscious competence”.     Everyone gets stuck at some point in their journey though and the cause of many of the “sticking-points” are from within.

The Inner You is the place where all of our decisions come from.  When they are working in our favour we don’t tend to think too much about them – we credit our intellect, experience, risk-tolerance, timing, intuition and/or planning.  What we often fail to see is that it’s our beliefs that contribute to our success – our belief in ourselves AND it is also our beliefs that trip us up.

If you want to take your business to a new level – a level you have been unable to achieve so far – you need to take a look inside and see what is going on before making your plans.

Foundation also takes a look at where you are at with your numbers.  Your revenue, gross profit, net profit, number of customers, customer lifetime value, number of prospects, size of your list and other variables that will be used as your benchmark.

Your Operations

Are you operating in a way that is attracting the right people that aligns with your vision?  This is why we start with your foundation – including identifying what you really want and what you are tolerating.  Have you created a business with policies and procedures which annoy your customers and make it difficult for your employees to achieve your vision?  Remember, the decisions you make come from the “inner you” – why did you make the decisions in the first place?  Were you coming from a powerful place when you made those decisions or were there other things in play?

Your Reach

Are you creating an attractive business?  Are you attracting your ideal customers?  Are you growing your tribe of supporters – which includes customers, prospects, referral partners, joint venture partners, employees and prospective employees, vendors, investors and admirers? 

How successful are your current marketing activities?  Have you changed your marketing activities to keep up with the changes in the marketplace or are you still doing the same old things you’ve always done?  Are you trying new ways to reach your ideal customer?  Are you leveraging your expertise and positioning yourself as an expert in the eyes of those you wish to attract?

Your Customer Experience

Your customers’ experiences are the culmination of every decision  you have ever made – from the people you hire, your policies and procedures, your budget allocation decisions, the consistency of service, the quality of your product, through to the various marketing messages you create and all sorts of decisions in between.

If there is one sure-fire way to know that things are out of alignment it’s to take a look at what your customers are saying (or not saying) and doing (or not doing!)

The key to winning the customer loyalty battle is to consistently offer exactly what your marketing messages promise.   Have you cut back on staff to save on payroll costs – and as a result your customers are abandoning their shopping carts – perhaps permanently?  Do you promise speed and efficiency but some days it’s not very speedy or efficient – it depends on who is working?   The discrepancy between your promise and reality is what causes people to complain bitterly so it’s really quite simply – you either change your message to match your experience or you change your experience to match your message.  A heart-centered high achiever will likely choose the latter.

Your Employee Experience

What’s it like to have you as a boss?  Have  you stopped to find out?   S.T.A.R. Businesses have very specific requirements for those they hire  because they understand that the customer experience is controlled by the employees. If you don’t currently have employees, think about the people you delegate tasks to.

Have you shared your vision with your employees?  Do they know exactly what they HAVE to do and what latitude they have in delivering your vision?  Do they truly understand just how important they are to achieving your vision?

Your role in a S.T.A.R. Business is to hire slowly and well; train using your systems; coach; mentor and back-away so your employees can shine.  The result?  You don’t work as much – in fact you actually have time to have fun while also working on WAYS TO LEVERAGE everything you’ve built so far – while your employees deliver your brand promise with each and every touch point they have with your customers.

For some entrepreneurs, this may seem like a dream come true.  I’m here to tell you, there is no feeling like it!  I’ve done it myself – in my own business – after practicing and successfully implementing the systems aspect I teach while I was part of the management team at Whistler Mountain ski resort.

Imagine taking 4 vacations a year – one of them a month long – with your family, knowing that you simply need to check-in to answer questions, provide direction and appreciate your team while your business continues to generate revenue every day!

What lessons do you take from this lesson?

Share your thoughts below in the comments …

How to Win The Hearts of Your Customers and Employees

Learn a Customer Experience and Employee Engagement Lesson (While also learning about great PR!)

WestJet knocks one out of the park for its customers and its employees!

Check out the video and see what elements you can do in your own business to improve your customer experience and employee engagement.  We don’t all have the budgets or the networks to pull off what WestJet did — however, we can all do something special with our employees to make the day of our customers.   By including the employees, they had a lot of fun, yet imagine the trickle effect throughout the whole company.

So, my challenge to you for 2014, is what can YOU do in your company to strengthen both customer engagement and employee engagement?  Tell me below in the comments.  I’d love to hear from you!

Is Your Customer Loyalty on Life Support?

happy-customer 300x300What is customer loyalty?  Does it even exist — after all customers can be loyal to your business because of convenience only, yet given a change in their lives — whether a new job or a new home, their loyalty vanishes.  Customers can also be satisfied while doing business with you yet they aren’t loyal.

Do you do business with multiple companies that are competing for your hard-earned money?  I suspect you do, as do many of us — you may buy a book from your local book-store or department store, yet you also likely buy books online too.

So, how does one attract the right customer, convince them to buy, return, buy more and refer their friends and family?  The answer is simple to state in theory yet so many businesses find it difficult to implement because the answer is like a puzzle that requires all the pieces to achieve ultimate success.

 

Defining Your Ideal Customer

The first step is one that many of us fail to do.  We fail to identify our ideal customers — those people we want to serve and who are also highly profitable while being easy to serve.  Ideal customers appreciate what you offer to them and they make your lives easy compared to difficult or fickle customers.  They do not demand more than your product or service provides.

Effective marketing does not include throwing a “fishing net” out into the marketplace in an attempt to catch as many fish as possible.  Some fish will be great customers, some awful customers and the majority will be the type of customer that could go either way.

Instead we need to be very specific in who we want to attract as an ideal customer — we need a fishing rod with just the right bait.  For example, my business consists of coaching, training and consulting services with optional done-for-you services.  Although there are various divisions and a variety of products within each division, we have clearly identified who our ideal customer is for each.  We have an online training product called FORCE, which targets successful entrepreneurs, with an appreciation for the value of collaboration, and who are ready to take their business to the next level.  We also have a 30-Day Reinvention Challenge that we market to mid-life, successful, business women who are ready to put themselves first and live the life they were meant.

You need to get very specific with your own ideal customer, so that you know them “inside – out”.  Know their fears, worries, problems and exactly what they are looking for in terms of a solution.   When you speak to them in the words they use, solving problems that they have, you will not only attract more ideal customers but you’ll repel the customers you don’t want, which makes it easier to service your ideal customers in a way they will appreciate.

Making the Sale — again and again

When you have gone through the process of identifying your ideal customers and exactly how you can provide a valuable solution to their problems, the next step is to market to them.  You already know which words to use to attract them.  If you don’t, listen to what your customers are saying when they speak to you and then use those terms in your marketing e.g. our customers have “burning desires”; they are “overwhelmed”, “frustrated”, “unsatisfied”, “over worked”, “unappreciated”; they need “more profit”, “more customers”, “better employees” etc..

4 ways to increase your sales:

  1. Cross-selling, which sells a complementary product at the time of sale or shortly thereafter;
  2. Up-selling, which suggests / recommends a product or service which has a higher investment / cost yet provides more of what they need;
  3. Selling more frequently to the same customer using various promotions; and
  4. Adding more customers — preferably as a result of referrals from existing customers.

After you have attracted then convinced your customers to serve them (providing the solution they seek), the next steps are to offer an up-sell or a cross-sell at the time of the purchase.  Why?  Two reasons: they are already in the buying mode; and you are doing them a favour which saves them frustration and time.  For example, if you are selling battery-operated toys, ask if they need the batteries (cross-sell).  If you are selling a consulting package, suggest the next higher tier package if it makes sense (up-sell) or if it doesn’t make sense, suggest a complementary product or service that will make their lives even easier.

Selling more frequently to the same customer occurs when you establish a relationship with them where they will permit you to send relevant offers which they then act upon — even if they had no intention of purchasing at the time they received the offer.   Depending on your customers, you may call them, communicate through social networking channels, send them mobile messages or send them offers via direct mail.

Finally, ask for referrals — it is so easy to do and yet so many people are either fearful of asking or don’t know how valuable referrals are.  There are two great times to ask for the referral — immediately after you have made the sale and when you follow-up to ensure they are happy with their purchase.

Consider offering a “bring a friend” event which not only results in a purchase the original customer may not have made but it will also result in a referral — also remember to upsell and/or cross-sell. Creativity is the key!

Customer Experience

The absolute best way to retain your customers is to ensure their experience is exceptional — that your brand promise is delivered; your product exceeds expectations; your employees deliver consistent service and you are easy to do business with.  Invest time and energy into being your own “detective” by shopping incognito.  Test your systems, your website, your call center, your employees and be sure that you are doing everything possible to retain your ideal customers.  You’ll be far more successful in engaging your customers than businesses that don’t.

Carol Wain is a leadership consultant, trainer, mentor, speaker, best-selling author and Entrepreneur of the Year 2003.  She is the founder of  Marquee Incentives, Marquee Marketing, Marquee Experiences, Marquee Events and Carol Wain International, which provide consulting, training and related products and services that transform businesses.  

Using Carol’s F.O.R.C.E. Formula™, leaders and managers learn how to attract and retain the employees and customers they want, increase sales, reduce expenses and use their strength to make positive changes in the lives of others.  

You can find Carol on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.  Visit her website at https://carolwain.com and reach her at Carol@CarolWain.com