Let’s play a word association game.  When I say “customer service” what comes to mind?

For me, it’s a toll-free phone call, entering a bunch of information on the telephone keypad, then retelling it all to a human, once you get through to one.

Customer Service can be a 4-letter word

Customer service is often limited to service delivery, or where you go when you need help to solve a problem. In our interactions with too many companies, customer service has become a 4-letter word. 

Let’s carry on with the game. What comes to mind when I say “customer experience?”  Is it less clear?

Customer experience spans the lifetime relationship between you and your customer. This assumes that a) you have a relationship; and b) that it’s an enduring one. Your customers’ overall perception of you is an aggregate of each interaction before, after, and between the service delivery.

Shaping a Great Customer Experience

Showing that you understand your customers, and that you’re listening to them, are key components of a good customer experience that keep them coming back to you again and again. Rich, online communications that add more touch points throughout the relationship give you the opportunity to:

  • Exceed customer expectations
  • Give customers information and control over their equipment and facility
  • Listen and respond to customers, especially when they have negative feedback

Plan the Customer Experience

You have a set of defined processes around the service delivery, but do you have the same form around your day-to-day customer relationships?

  1. Set a schedule of pre-appointment communications. They’re a great opportunity to find out what concerns the customer has and what additional services you can provide.
  2. During the service call, show your skill and know-how. Use photos to show the customer what you’ve found onsite that increases their risk or is out of compliance. Even better, show them the after photos of it fixed.
  3. Follow up immediately after the sales call with a rich job record of exactly what was done, not just an invoice. Also schedule a second or third follow-up to check on customer satisfaction and possible other service follow-ups.
  4. Work reviews and references into your follow-up communications. Ask your customers for reviews on 3rd party sites like Google, Yahoo, Yelp, and your social networks on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.
  5. Continue to stay in touch with customers between service calls with seasonal tips, compliance reminders and other advice from your experts that remind them that you’re the best service contractor for their business.

The Payoff

Once you have a strategy, and a process you can follow, adopt a customer-focused culture and make every member of your staff follow it for every customer, every day.  The payoff to your business is increased customer satisfaction, longer relationships, and higher lifetime value of each customer.

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