Tag Archive for customer feedback

When your Customers are Talking

It’s Time to Listen  

The single biggest complaint of customers is that salespeople talk too much and don’t listen enough. Poor salespeople dominate the talking, while successful salespeople dominate the listening.

 

It’s possible for you to talk too much, but it’s rarely possible to listen too much.

 

When salespeople are excellent listeners, prospects and customers feel comfortable and secure with them. They buy more readily and more often.

 

Why Salespeople Stop Listening

Salespeople have a lot to say because they’ve developed so much expertise. However, the fastest way to irritate a prospect is by talking too much and listening too little. Furthermore, salespeople have listened to the customer’s side so often, they can predict what the customer will say. Result: They learn less about customers’ changing needs than an effective listener would uncover.

 

Benefits of Good Listening

Listening builds trust. The best salespeople are concerned with customer needs and help them purchase products or services in a cost-effective way.

Listening lowers resistance. It reduces tension and defensiveness on the part of customers who realize they aren’t going to be pushed into making a purchase.

 

Listening is Not Hearing

Listening is different from hearing. Hearing is what people do when a bore starts talking. Listening is an active activity in which salespeople pay genuine attention to what customers or prospects say.

 

 

 

 

Here are some tips that help promote active listening:

  1. Show that you’re listening by giving short verbal feedback phrases like, “I see” or “Go on.” Nod your head. Use body language to show the customer you’re interested in what’s being said.
  2. Don’t interrupt. Ideally, the only time you should break up the customer’s conversation stream is if you need clarification on what’s being said.
  3. Avoid distractions. Focus your attention on the prospect or customer in a calm, relaxed atmosphere.
  4. Restate. This is repeating verbatim all or part of what a customer has said while placing emphasis on one part of it. The main purpose of restating is to get prospects to give more information and to let them know you are listening. Additional information can be the difference in making a sale or not.
  5. Ask pertinent questions.If you understand correctly, the customer will agree. If not, he or she will have a chance to clarify.
  6. Summarize. Active listening involves mentally summarizing points that have been made. Try to state these brief summaries at key moments in your presentations. Summarizing also lets you take charge of the direction of the conversation.
  7. Try to avoid arguing.A good listener is there to find out what the customer thinks and where she or he is coming from. If the customer wants to hear your opinion, he or she will ask. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to remain silent, especially if a customer is venting.
  8. Empathy is key. The way we do this is by mirroring one another’s behavior and language. Use the same words your customers do, in the way they use them, so they are assured you really understand their problems.
  9. Simplifying terms for self-service. If you want to help customers help themselves, don’t be fancy with the language. Drop the brand voice and mimic your customer’s approach.
  10. And the best advice of all…Remember the golden rule of listening. It’s possible to say too much. It’s rarely possible to listen too much.

 

 

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Customer Service Gone Wrong

What You Need to Avoid

 

 

Why does negative news spread so much faster than positive?

Because we all love a good story! But when it happens to you, it’s not so funny.

People love reading about bad customer service stories. They go viral because we’ve all been there – on the phone desperately needing help from customer service, or waiting in an endless line at the airport.

When you read about a bad customer experience, you feel empathy (and maybe some outrage) on behalf of the wronged party. It’s maddening when companies disregard the same customers they’re meant to serve, and it’s a near-universal experience.

Check out these five horribly bad customer service examples and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Walmart’s Pricing Blunder

You walk into your local Walmart and see a Lego set you want to buy for your son. You notice that the item at the store costs 35% more than the same exact Lego set on Walmart’s own website. What? Yes really. That’s exactly what happened to Clark Howard. But when he asked the team to meet their company’s online price, Walmart refused to price-match.

So he pulled up his phone and ordered the product online for an in-store pick-up. Howard says, “My son and I stood there and watched as a different employee came a few minutes later, picked the item up off the shelf, and brought it back to the holding spot for pickup.” Because Howard didn’t receive the email confirmation from Walmart.com until the following day, he couldn’t bring the item home that day. Instead, Howard had to go back to the store the next day — inconvenient, to say the least. Although Walmart doesn’t require that store managers match online prices, it would have been the best (and only) response in this scenario.

Takeaway

When companies prioritize a policy above the needs of customers, it shows. If you’re not sure how to respond in a scenario, think about what’s the kindest, most honest thing to do. This can easily prevent really bad customer service stories from happening on your watch.

2. Comcast’s New Low

There are lots of reasons not to like cable providers. You always have to argue for a fair rate, and most of the time, you don’t get what you need. But even in this not-so-helpful industry, Comcast is America’s most hated company.

In 2015, when Lisa Brown called to cancel the cable TV portion of her service, she was transferred to a retention specialist specifically trained to talk her out of it. She didn’t back down, though. Much to her surprise and agitation, the next service bill she received was addressed not to her husband, Ricardo Brown, but to “Asshole Brown.”

Just days after Brown’s story went viral, three more customers of the TV cable provider came forward reporting their names had been changed to derogatory words. Although Comcast leaders apologized to the customers and offered a two year refund, the incident still made waves. Because customers hate Comcast’s pricing model, and so many people can relate to the frustration, the story resonated with millions.

Takeaway

This bad customer service example typifies a work culture where employees are so fed up, they’re willing to sacrifice their jobs to make a point, and get a laugh. The best way to cultivate an empathetic customer service team is to treat the team with empathy, too. This sense of shared appreciation and respect will naturally extend to customers.

 

 

3. Target’s Trolling Incident

Not too long ago Target announced that they were changing how girls and boys items were advertised in their stores. In an attempt to create a more supportive and open environment for children, Target removed gender-based signs in some of their kids’ sections. Although a lot of people appreciated the change, some customers saw it as a move away from tradition for the sake of “political correctness” and commented on Target’s Facebook page.

Soon after, a Facebook user pretended to be Target’s help desk and trolled these unhappy customers. The Facebook user changed their name to “Ask For Help” and used the Target bullseye as their profile picture. They wrote snarky replies which did not bode well with the already livid customers. The perception was that Target didn’t care about their views.

Takeaway

As customer service expands into social media, there’s an increased risk for fake accounts that enrage (rather than delight) customers. Vigilance is the key to preventing a bad customer service example at your business. Always keep an eye on social media accounts. Although it can be difficult to stop these scenarios from happening, the quicker you shut them down, the better.

4. United’s Big Goof Up

United Airlines’ first big goof up happened in 2008 when United employees recklessly damaged the guitar of musician David Carroll. Sitting in his airplane seat, Carroll saw employees throwing around his guitar on the tarmac, powerless to protect his property. Like any concerned customer, Carroll went through the proper channels to report both the behavior and subsequent damage. “I notified three employees, who showed complete indifference toward me,” says Carroll.

The customer service experience was so appalling, it inspired Carroll to write and record a song called “United Breaks Guitars.” This musical rendering of his bad customer experience has been on YouTube for eight years, and it’s received over 17 million views! Employee indifference to the company’s mistakes ballooned into a PR nightmare for United.

Takeaway

Don’t you remember the Golden Rule? Treat others how you want to be treated. Empathy is the key to building a successful customer service team. If employees don’t care about the mistakes their company makes — and how they affect individuals — they’re not going to be invested in positive change.

Practice empathy with customers by asking more questions and mirroring their answers. No matter how difficult the situation, they’ll feel heard.

5. Gasp’s Retail Gaffe

Have you ever been in a shop and gotten snubbed by the staff? When Keara O’Neil went to an Australian clothing store called Gasp looking for bridesmaids dresses, the salesperson was pushy and mean, implying O’Neil didn’t have good enough taste to appreciate the company’s dresses.

O’Neil followed up with management over email who ferociously defended the salesperson. The Age reported, “In an email, the retailer asked her to do Gasp a favor, stop wasting the store’s time and shop elsewhere because she was not a ‘fashion forward consumer’ who could appreciate a ‘retail superstar’ with ‘unparalleled ability’.” The salesperson also called O’Neil unrepeatable names in a leaked internal email and and warned other “rude and obnoxious clowns” to stay out.

Gasp thought that this incident was a good thing because of the press the company received, but research indicates otherwise: a horrible customer experience can trigger a negative spiral of bad customer service that perpetuates indefinitely.

Takeaway

The adage “all press is good press” doesn’t apply to customer service — going viral for terrible service isn’t worth the momentary traffic boost. When you try to justify your (or your company’s) behavior, you excuse toxic behavior and set a new baseline for bad customer service.

The Bottom Line: Always Put your Customers First

 

Unfortunately every person has a terrible customer service story to tell. Even when it’s not as dramatic or extreme, customers experience terrible service every day, and it slowly erodes a company’s reputation.

The best way to tackle bad customer service stories is to prevent them in the first place. When you create a supportive environment grounded in respect and customer appreciation, you’ll never find yourself among these negative examples.

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How to Successfully Implement Customer Feedback Surveys

Few people get excited about taking a survey. Unless your customers instantly see why it’s important or you offer a reward, they’re likely to dismiss it. However, your company needs those responses. They help you help your customers. If you understand what motivates potential respondents, you’ll be more than equipped to get the survey results you need.

Make the Survey Experience Amazing for Every Customer

Reciprocity, rewards, and interest can each motivate your customers to complete your survey. The more specific you can make each customer’s survey experience, the more interesting they’ll find it—and the more likely they’ll be to respond.

 

Reciprocity: Create an Exchange

In 1974, sociologist Phillip Kunz at Brigham Young University sent out handwritten Christmas cards to 600 strangers. His theory: if someone does something for you, you’ll return the favor. Kunz’s study worked. He received more than 200 replies from people, many of whom also sent their Christmas card with handwritten notes. That’s why it didn’t matter that Kunz’s subjects didn’t know him: their empathy kicked in once they received something, and they felt compelled to give something back.

The same logic—of reciprocating when you’re given something—can be applied to timing your surveys.

Here are some examples of great times to survey your customers:

  • After they’ve been onboarded. Once you’ve given them a tutorial on how to use a core part of your product, survey them on whether it was helpful.
  • When they’ve just made a purchase. Your customer has just worked their way through your site to make a purchase, so ask them what they’d like to see while it’s fresh in their minds.
  • A few weeks after their purchase. By now customers have used the product and will have honest feedback. Offer them a discount on future purchases in return for feedback.

 

Rewards: Entice Them with a Promise

Via the incentive theory of motivation, positive incentives like “money, rewards, or recognition” motivate people to take action. But most people tend to prefer rewards sooner than later. Even if your customers understand that responding to a survey will help them down the line, they’d prefer to have a small reward for sacrificing their time here and now.

Your customers’ positive incentive needs to arrive ASAP—otherwise they won’t feel the urge to complete your survey. That’s why it’s imperative that you promise rewards to customers who take your survey.

Say you’ve just programmed this survey to pop up (above). This proves to your customer that they’ll be rewarded right now for doing you the favor of completing a survey—playing into their present bias and motivation via positive incentives.

Some reward options:

  • Discount on their next purchase – If you have the financial means, this can help grow your survey response rates.
  • Exclusive savings – Provide extra bonus content for your survey participants that isn’t already available.

It’s also crucial to give customers multiple ways to access and complete a survey. With more options, customers will be able to complete a survey on their own terms. Customers will be more likely to complete a survey if there is a way to do it that is convenient for them, whether it is by phone, email, or SMS.

 

Pique Your Users’ Interest

A study published in Oxford’s Public Opinion Quarterly tested the Leverage-Salience Theory of Survey Participation. The theory measured what factors made people more likely to take a survey—whether they found the topic interesting, if they trusted the organization surveying them, or if they would gain specific positive outcomes.

Their findings revealed something intuitive—that people are more likely to respond to surveys when they find the topics interesting. So to get people interested in your survey, you need to make it specific to each customer’s experience. To make your survey prompts and questions as specific and as immediately relevant as they can be, analyze each customer’s experience in real time.

 

Phrase your survey prompts around each customer’s experience. In an analysis of one million surveys, Price Intelligently found that using customer-centric language spiked their response rates. So instead of saying “help us make our product better,” make subtle changes to prompt your users by saying “improve your product experience.”

By using these tips and tricks, you should see an increase in your survey participation. And this feedback is crucial to a successful future for your business.

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