Top Stories of the Week: Ten Strategies for Silos and more

Glad you could join us for another week of Friday Five, where we look at some of the more interesting customer service stories of the past week:

Anticipating Customer Needs – Four Ways.

Deborah McMahon has written a good article outlining four ways to anticipate customer needs, thereby increasing both satisfaction and loyalty:
  • Look for the next problem to solve, not the next product to sell. Your customers come to you for one reason only – to solve a problem they have. Do that and they will keep buying your products.
  • Pay attention to future demand from your customers’ next needs. Don’t think of expanding just to attract new customers. Be careful to keep the future needs of your current customers in mind, don’t leave them behind.
  • Try before they buy. Customers love to try out new things they’re unfamiliar with before making a purchase, so let them. Tech vendors have learned this well.
  • Let customers share their ideas. Engage your customers in two-way conversations to help alleviate their pain points and solve problems.

Ten Ways Silos Impact the Customer Experience.

CustomerThink’s Lynn Hunsaker offers good advice on finding and eliminating information silos in your organization – including the observation that there’s a good side to them as well. Some examples:
  • Organizational silos. Customers never want to hear “another department handles that.” They don’t see you as departments, they see you as one face.
  • Systems Silos. “That mobile app isn’t available for the type of account you have.” Prevent the customer service black holes.
  • Data Silos. Customers should never hear “That’s in another database,” or “Can I have your name and account number again?”
  • Vision Silos. Are Marketing and IT operating from the same vision when addressing different aspects of the customer experience?

Five Customer Data Lessons You Can’t Ignore.

From loyalty360 comes ways to improve the customer experience by using data – what to do and what not to do:
  • Value the data you have. While acquiring new data, don’t overlook the value in what you’ve already collected.
  • Realize customer data is a strategic asset. Don’t let customer data remain trapped in IT, make sure senior management takes ownership of it.
  • Integrate all customer data for easy access. Having information flowing across silos to the departments that need it doesn’t happen automatically. You need to make sure it’s connected.
  • Big Data’s good – so is “small” data. Voice of the Customer text analytics? “Small” data, yes, but oh so valuable.
  • Make data personal. Know which customers are more loyal and valuable, and treat them accordingly.
Using customer data intelligently and profitably separates the business winners from the losers.

Ten Ways Customers Get Better Service From You.

Interesting article in Psychology Today written by a consumer research psychologist, Kit Yarrow, on how customers use attitude and psychology to get better service from your company:
  • Be kind. Customers who treat service personnel kindly get far better service than those who are rude or belligerent.
  • Make it personal. Customers who interact personally with reps, who use first names, are getting better customer service and are more satisfied with the interaction.
  • Have a solution in mind. Your service reps find it far more productive to work with customers who approach the interaction with the end result they want to achieve already in mind – you’d probably be surprised how many don’t.
  • They do business elsewhere. Sad to say – the industries with the worst customer service are those with the least competition. If customers can take their business elsewhere, bad service will cause them to do just that.

Every Customer-Facing Employee Needs This Skill.

Beyond Philosophy – not one of our usual sources here – has an interesting article contending that one of the most effective ways to consistently provide a great customer experience is for your people to know how to pivot.
A skill well-known to public relations folks, pivoting is changing the direction of the conversation to get it back in the direction you want. Politicians are masters of the pivot, and your customer service should be, too.
Some pointers:

  • Acknowledge. Repeat back to the customer what you understand the issue to be.
  • Stay on message. Remind the customer what your desired emotional outcome for the experience is.

Customer service reps who say things like “I sense you’re still frustrated, what can we do to solve this to your satisfaction,” for example, are pivoting expertly – and doing their company great favors. It’s not a difficult skill to learn, and it pays huge customer satisfaction dividends.

Hope you had a great week, and we’ll see you back next Friday!

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