There are some things that transcend differences of time and place. In considering the customer experience, AchieveGlobal discovered that there are four things customers expect from interactions with employees of a company they do business with.
In our recent research report on what makes customers stay loyal to or stray away from doing business with companies, we asked, “What are customers’ baseline expectations of their interactions with employees?” The range of responses we received fell into four areas of customer expectations. Notably, these expectations are relevant regardless of the type of customer interaction, and irrespective of the company involved.
As we distilled our findings, a sort of “customer expectations bill of rights” emerged. Here’s what we learned that all customers expect when dealing with businesses…
“We the customers expect:…”
- To be treated with care, individual attention and respect in all interactions.
- To be spared unnecessary details, and for interactions to be grounded in a sense of simplicity.
- To have issues resolved through honest efforts to correct mistakes, and be offered solutions by associates who are empowered to bend the rules in ethical and approved ways.
- To deal with associates who have a keen sense of responsibility, and who persist at what they do, in order to deliver what has been promised.
If every employee in our companies could commit to meeting these four cornerstone expectations, it’s likely there would be greater chance of achieving positive outcomes on several levels.
But what are the behaviors that characterize associates and companies that meet customer needs on these four global levels? In part of our study, we also surveyed top customer-contact employees to discover what they do, that others don’t do, or that others don’t do quite as well. We discovered eight major habits or behaviors that define top customer service associates:
- Building relationships and communicating warmly, asking questions on both business and personal levels.
- Listening attentively and focusing on how the company can solve concerns.
- Gathering information and providing exactly the right response.
- Communicating clearly, explaining things in terms that customers understand.
- Managing difficult conversations, apologizing and admitting responsibility when needed.
- Empathizing with customer needs, and listening to non-verbal cues like tone of voice.
- Avoiding problems by taking preventive steps before things spiral out of control.
- Committing to continuous learning, training and retraining.
Like everything else in customer relationships, it’s easy when you know how. And what we recognize is that this know-how can be gained through sincere emotional effort on the part of every employee.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida