Whom is to blame when business relations devolve into a horrible customer service disaster?
Never the customer.
They may be wrong, unreasonable, belligerent, but they are still the customers, without whom you won't be in business.
Every business owner has heard about the basics of customer service: Smile at your customers. Be nice. Apologize to make them feel better. Never say no. Listen carefully. Be patient. The list is almost endless.
The problem, however, is it's only in a few cases that this knowledge translates to brilliant customer service. Even with regular company memos, it's difficult to translate theory into practice.
What then? How can your business scale this hurdle from theory into practice?
The answer is understanding your customers.
"Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes," - someone wise.
Knowing your customers so well means you can anticipate their needs and exceed their expectations.
The million dollar question then is "how do you go about understanding your customers?"
We'll look at three ways to do so:
1: Put yourself in their shoes
You need to be able to think like your customer. A good way to do this is to outline all the different contact points between you and a customer. Some have a fancy word for this exercise. Experience map, they call it.
What this means is; imagine all the possible emotions a customer feels at different times they interact with your company.
See what an experience map look like:
Credit: Franck Scandolera
This insight will help you prepare yourself and your employees for these moments. You will anticipate their emotions and craft useful messages or experiences to manage those emotions.
If you don't have the patience for an experience map, simply ask yourself this: "How would I want to be treated if I was my own customer."
Answer honestly and you are headed in the right direction.
2: Cultivate your user data and mine it for all its worth
If you aren’t already collecting data on your users, start now. There is a vast trove of insights you will get from an analysis of your customer database or customer relationship management system. Data points such as what times customers order, how much they order, what type of your product they order and how many units, can be extrapolated to understand user behaviour.
You will understand their preferences and behaviour and build on it.
Who doesn't like it when they walk into your cafeteria and the attendant brings a tall glass of Capri-Sonne (read: your favourite drink) to your table knowing you always ask for it?
This unfair advantage means you will identify and meet customer needs more effectively.
3: Conduct a customer satisfaction survey
Who likes to give advice? Everyone. Even introverts.
When you ask your customers what they think about your business - the whole essence of a customer survey - you make them feel that their opinions about your business matter. They feel a stronger sense of community with your company.
That's only the beginning. The other advantage is; you do get to know what they think about your business.
Depending on the questions you ask, you'll get insight into what customers love, what they think about your staff, your ambiance and more.
If you want to turn your customers into passionate fans, tell them the changes you've made as a result of their feedback. They'll feel they're an important stakeholder in your business - which they are.
In summary, when it comes to customer service, understanding your customers is the difference between the survival and death of your company.
Seeing them as humans with emotions, needs and problems to be solved is the first step in connecting with them. Then, we can talk about serving them effectively.
How do you try to understand your customers? What has worked and what hasn't? Please share in the comments.
Nigerian entrepreneur with a transformative idea? Cranium One is a premium coworking hub that provides space for people to connect, collaborate and bring their ideas to reality. Learn more.