The need to feel heard is universal. It spans all cultures, age groups, and socioeconomic groups. Humans are social creatures, thriving on connection and empathy. Feeling heard by others isn’t just something that feels nice; it is a crucial human need. Ensuring this need is met should be the ultimate goal of the customer experience.
People don’t just desire this connection with family and people in their social circle, they also want this throughout their interactions with the people they deal with in their daily lives.
This is why the primary goal of the customer experience should be to always make them feel heard.
Why Is This Connection So Important In Customer Service?
That’s a good question. Of course, people want to be heard and understood by their loved ones, friends, family, and even coworkers. But what is so important about interacting and connecting with people you don’t know and that you will likely never speak with again? Does it matter that much?
Has a smile from a stranger ever brightened your day? Has a kind word from someone you don’t even know made a difference for you? Throughout the average week, we have dozens of interactions with people outside our immediate social circle. Cashiers, bank tellers, people waiting in line next to us, food servers, customer service agents, salespeople, repair people, and delivery drivers, to name a few.
While we may not see these people outside of brief interactions, it’s these many small connections that contribute greatly to our daily lives, whether we realize it or not. Think about the power that even one encounter can have. If the encounter is positive, it can make a difference for the rest of your day. Unfortunately, negative encounters have a similar impact on our day.
In the realm of customer service, there is a notable benefit to making customers feel heard and valued. The benefit is that you will have created a satisfied customer, and a satisfied customer has the potential to be a loyal customer who tells their friends and family how great your products and services are.
How Do You Make Customers Feel Heard?
You know that the ultimate goal of the customer experience is to make your customers feel heard, but how do we achieve that? It sounds simple. Just listen to them, right? It isn’t always that straightforward. There are things that get in the way of really making your customers feel heard. Technology can be an amazing tool for assisting your customers, but it can also become a barrier that could leave them feeling alienated.
The trick is to use technology but not so much that it replaces the element of human interaction. It’s great if you can solve a problem in a chat or via an automated service, but sometimes there needs to be a human on the other end of the phone. Over half of customers complain that their biggest issue with chatbots is the number of questions they have to answer before talking to a human. This frustration can lead to customers going elsewhere and leaving negative reviews or feedback.
In some call center customer service environments, there is an urge to move customers along as quickly and efficiently as possible. In many cases, customers are calling with the same question or complaint over and over again, and it can be easy to “hurry things along” by finishing their sentences, interrupting them, transferring them to someone else, etc.
This behavior does not make customers feel heard and can result in a poor customer experience. It is important to employ patience and empathy so your customers don’t feel like they are just a number on a spreadsheet. They want to feel heard and taken care of.
Let’s dive deeper into the benefits of customer satisfaction from a customer service point of view. After all, there are plenty of ways to please a customer. Of course, having a good product or service is one way. Prompt delivery of said products and services, a nice, personal touch, and lots of support are others. Along the way, things can occur that create friction in the customer journey. While the goal of the customer experience is always excellence in all aspects of the journey, we can always return to one simple thing to make a problem right: truly hearing the customer.
The problem could be a defective product or a delayed delivery. The customer could have trouble with the product or service on their end and require assistance. They could have trouble navigating the website or making a purchase. Even the most well-oiled machines run into snags.
This is where good customer service can make all the difference. The primary goal of the customer experience when resolving questions or complaints is to make the customer feel heard.
A customer who feels heard is far more likely to rate their experience as positive, and positive experiences lead to customer loyalty. Even when a company makes a mistake, a whopping 78% of repeat customers will continue to do business with them. On the flipside, approximately 62% will stop doing business with a company after a poor customer service experience.
Improved Customer Retention
When a customer trusts you to listen to them and solve their problems, they develop the belief that you will continue to take care of them. Some businesses have the mistaken belief that customer retention only happens when everything goes right. They hope to avoid making any mistakes and assume that a customer who calls in with a problem is automatically a lost cause.
Oddly enough, it’s having a problem that often creates trust and loyalty. Of course, any business should strive to create an amazing experience for their customers with no problems, but in the real world, problems occur, and customers know that. When you solve a problem quickly and make your customers feel heard and valued, you create trust and loyalty. Because they know you are going to take care of them.
Why is customer retention so important? If you’re thinking it’s a no-brainer, keep in mind that many companies spend far more time and energy trying to find new customers rather than trying to keep the ones they have. Of course, you want new customers. Remember though, it costs several times more to find a new customer than it does to keep an existing customer.
As a business, how do you manage your reputation? How do you convince customers to sing your praises and recommend you to friends and family? What is the secret when it comes to gaining positive reviews on third-party sites like Google or Yelp?
Word Of Mouth
When is the last time you told a friend, coworker, or family member about a company you have recently purchased from? How often do you recommend products and services to people you know? What does it take for you to sing the praises of a business (besides yours, of course)?
Word of mouth can either grow or sink your business. If you have lackluster service, at best you won’t get any of that amazing, free word-of-mouth advertising. At worst, you will have people talking about how bad your service is. No business wants that!
Reviews and Recommendations
Word of mouth is powerful, and so are reviews. Since most businesses today are online, people who find your business may know little about you personally. They may never have heard from you before, so they will likely head to third-party sites such as Yelp, or perhaps Google to find reviews about your business. Savvy consumers will search the most recent reviews, and they will take a number of reviews into account when making their decision.
Bottom line is, if you have only a few reviews or most of your reviews are months or years old, your prospective customer might go elsewhere. Reviews equal trust. It isn’t easy to get those coveted, positive reviews, and unfortunately, some customers are more likely to leave a review when things go wrong than when things go right. This is why it is so important to ensure you are focused on making your customers feel heard.
When you provide amazing customer service, people will be more inclined to spread the word, and that includes leaving glowing reviews that will help draw in more customers.
Product and Service Improvement
Your customers are a valuable source of information that can improve your business and help you make more informed decisions. Their feedback can help you improve your products, develop new products and services, streamline your process, and gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
This feedback only happens when you truly listen. This listening must happen at all points in the customer journey. How do they interact with your online or in-person storefront? What questions do they typically have? What problems are they encountering, and what are they saying about your business? You should always be checking in with social media and paying attention to praise, criticism, and questions, then use that information to consistently improve the quality of products and services, distribution, and customer service.
When you listen to your customers, you stay relevant and competitive in your industry. Ignore them at your own peril.
Differentiation in a Competitive Market
We live in a world of endless options. There are very few industries where customers have only one viable option. Option overwhelm is a real thing, and for many consumers, it’s just about choosing the product or service that shows up first and is easiest to acquire.
Customers often use a simple process of elimination. What shows up first? What has a high rating? A low rating? What brands have they heard good things about?
Presented with an array of similar options, it makes sense that a customer is going to select an option that is highly regarded with a reputation for excellent customer service. Bonus points if the business has been recommended by a friend. In lieu of word-of-mouth recommendations, consumers will often choose the brand that has a large number of recent, positive, third-party reviews.
Setting yourself apart from the competition ensures word-of-mouth marketing, rave reviews, and a solid reputation. When customers feel heard, they talk about it.
Here’s the bottom line. Just having a good product or service isn’t enough to differentiate your business from the competition. Start with that, but make sure you are also offering impeccable customer service with a personal touch. This is how you stand apart and attract more business.
The Ultimate Goal of the Customer Experience
As a business, you want to provide amazing products and services that delight your customers. You should strive to offer the best customer experience, and that includes top-notch service and support every step of the way.
You also know that the buck stops with your customer service and your ability to make customers feel heard. Whether they received a faulty product, encountered a delay, experienced a billing snafu, or simply have questions or comments, your customer will not come away feeling good if they didn’t feel heard.
The benefits of customer satisfaction are far-reaching. Satisfied customers are more likely to be repeat customers. Delighted customers are far more likely to become loyal customers. And the business that manages to exceed its customer’s expectations will turn them into loyal customers who tell friends, coworkers, and family how amazing you are. They will leave positive reviews on Google and Yelp. They will agree to offer testimonials and join referral programs. They can become a spokesperson for your business out in the world and help bring in new customers.
That is the power of customer service.
Are you ready to give your customers an experience they will want to tell their family members and friends about? Do you believe you can deliver what it takes to inspire them to get on their phone or laptop and leave a glowing review? Is your current customer service strategy helping your company, or hurting it? Perhaps it is time to take a hard look at your customer service, from the automated software you use to your social media management and call center. Identify areas in need of improvement, and analyze what you could be doing differently.
If you need help creating a top-notch customer service strategy for your business, contact Millennial Services today. Our suite of tools can help you create a culture of customer care that will leave your customers delighted. Contact us today to learn more.