“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou
How people feel have a direct effect on how they relate to others and judge shopping experiences. Academic studies have shown that satisfaction is a combination of cognitive and emotional evaluation. Reading the studies gives us insight into how people respond to service perceived as good or bad. They fail to provide specific information on how to deliver satisfaction.
Accurately defining specific cause and effect is close to impossible because every person has emotional baggage that affects how he reacts to circumstances. The baggage may come from the person’s life or it may come from previous shopping experiences. The challenge companies’ face is how to identify what people need on an individual level. Systems, processes, and scripts address general, not individual needs.
The desire to deliver excellent service is countered with the need to be economical. High quality service, as defined by industry standards, is very expensive. The good news for your company is that it really doesn’t matter how your industry defines excellence. All that matters is what your customers want. (I need to qualify the previous two statements. If your goal is a nice trophy declaring that your company provides the best service, go for the industry standard. If not, let’s continue.)
People need to feel valued. When they do, service is perceived as being better (even when it isn’t.) Creating an environment where customers feel appreciated improves satisfaction and loyalty. Actions show value better than words. Here are some do’s and don’ts for making your customers feel valued:
Do listen. It is impossible to provide an answer without understanding the question. Let customers finish telling their stories before trying to solve the problem.
Don’t pass people to others. One stop service is the best. It saves customer and company time. If a pass needs to happen, explain to the customer why someone else has to be involved.
Do show respect. Good manners may not be cool in some circles but they are mandatory in customer relations. Require your team to be polite and respectful at all times.
Don’t forget that companies serve at the customer’s pleasure. Every product is a commodity these days. Your customers can find what they need elsewhere.
Do design systems and processes to streamline the service process without sacrificing the care. People like self-service. Providing the needed tools improves satisfaction and reduces care.
Don’t let industry expectations define your service. Your customers choose your company for a reason. Focus on their needs instead of what the competition is doing.
Do ask people how you can serve them better. Use the feedback to create customized service experiences. When people feel understood and appreciated, they keep coming back.
Don’t ask people for feedback if you are not going to do anything with it. They’ll wonder why you wasted their time. If the feedback can’t lead to change, explain why.