“Effective questioning brings insight, which fuels curiosity, which cultivates wisdom.”Chip R. Bell
It’s true that questions bring insights and cultivates wisdom that is really helpful in creating the right customer journey.
The more questions you put, the more insights and views you gain about the customer service. It helps you to think apart from the box and to get new ideas to deal with customers.
Chip Bell has quoted this nice saying that is helping different organizations to improve their customer journey. He believes in innovative approaches to serving customers.
Chip Bell is a renowned keynote speaker in the field of innovative customer service and customer loyalty. He has written a total of 23 books in which he mentions multiple customer service advice.
Read ahead to know more about his journey and improve customer service in your business.
1. From where you have started and how you thought of entering into the customer experience field?
I have been in the customer experience field for over fifty years, having studied consumer psychology and organizational behavior in my doctoral program. I started my consulting firm in 1980 focused on helping organizations to create a culture that supports long-term customer loyalty. I have written 15 books on customer service. The first one (Service Wisdom) was published in 1990; my newest book (Inside Your Customer’s Imagination) will be published in September 2020.
2. In your opinion, what customers want nowadays?
Customers today want five things:
i) Know me. Demonstrate through your actions that you know and value my ever-changing needs and expectations and that you are constantly updated what you know about me.
ii) Include me. Make me feel like a partner. Ask me for my input and feedback and show me changes that let me know I am valued as a co-creator of experiences with you.
iii) Teach me. Help me keep up and constantly learn. Show me you are a non-stop learner as well.
iv) Unburden me. Make getting what I need easy, accessible, and comfortable. Keep your promises. Tell me the truth. Build my trust in you through your consistency.
v) Surprise me. Find ways to personalize my experience in a way that tells me you care. Give me an experience I may describe to others.
3. What advice would you wish to give to businesses to deliver good customer service?
Listen to your front line. They know best what matters most to your customers. Don’t just rely on surveys to give you that data. Ensure that leaders’ actions match the organization’s vision for great service; you want your front-line to practice.
Empower your associates to do what is right for your customers. Look at your processes through your customers’ eyes and work to make them easy, comfortable, and customer-centric. Never stop learning about your customers and what they want, expect, and hope for.
4. Have you noticed any change earlier and now in customer service?
At one time, we believed the goal was customer satisfaction. Research shows that about 75% of customers who leave an organization to go with a competitor say they were satisfied or completely satisfied with the one they abandoned.
Then, we thought the goal was customer retention—keeping the customers we had. Now, we know that customer advocacy should be the goal since they become an extension of your sales and marketing efforts.
If you think of these three levels on a one to five scale, customer sat is a 3, like getting a C in school. Build your strategy around the customers who give you a 5 (or an A in school) since increasing that number will grow your business. Go to school on your advocates to learn what drives their affinity. Forget about reporting the number of “satisfied customers” and instead track and report the advocate’s number. What actions make that number grow?
5. The businesses that are already empowering good customer service, what advice will you give them to ensure the same level of services in the future?
Today’s fad is tomorrow’s antique. If you want to know what customers of the future will expect as basics, focus on what keeps your most loyal customers today, your advocates. The new frontier of customer service is not getting better at what we are doing today; it is doing things differently. Customers today do not talk or tweet about good service, only service that is unique or over-the-top. Value-added service means taking what customers expect and adding more.
Winning organizations of the future will focus on value-unique. That means creating a unique, unexpected surprise. It is a focus on ingenuity and innovation, not simply a generous one. And, it means empowered front-line people will need to be resourced and supported to provide responses that surprise, not just delight. It means helping front-line think out of the box when serving, not just on doing well.
6. Can you define any scenario where you find yourself as a most well-treated customer?
When I check into a Hotel Monaco, they ask me if I would like a goldfish in my hotel room. Housekeeping will take care of it; all they ask is that I give my goldfish a name. The next time I check into a Hotel Monaco, they ask if I would like Trixie to stay again with me. The bathrobe in my guest room closet is not boring white; it is leopard or zebra print. There is a yoga mat in my closet.
Turndown service includes a unique surprise on my pillow, not just a piece of chocolate like I get at other hotels. The GM’s wine and cheese 6 pm lobby gathering includes a magician or mime or a palm reader, not just white or red wine. Smart organizations think like this. What can we do that will create a story our customers are eager to share with their friends, not just a good recommendation.
7. What are the three main points one should keep in mind while implementing customer experience?
There are many more points than three. However, important is knowing what business you want to be, who you want to serve, and what matters most to those you plan to serve. Find out what drives loyalty among those in your target market, not just what is important. Think of what is important as a “have to do” table stake, not a distinction or a differentiator.
For example, if you ask customers of an airline, what is the most important feature in taking a flight they will tell you safety. Ask customers why they chose Airline A over Airline B, and safety will not be in their top ten. Safety is critical, but it does not drive loyalty. And recognize that what is important today to your customers may not be in the future. Once you have focused on what makes your business distinctive, drive the metrics, behaviours, and practices that support that distinction. Select, train, and support people based on that distinction.
8. What keeps you going when you feel things are getting tough in business?
A passion to serve and make a difference in the lives of those I serve. I view my role with intense commitment, like a calling. It gets me up in the morning. It is my purpose in life. It is never a job; it is my life. And, I want to create a masterpiece in everything I undertake.
9. What are the things that can differentiate businesses from their competitors?
That is a strategic question. Some might say product—like Nike or Apple. Some might say a consistent outcome—like McDonald’s. Some might say logistics—like UPS or Amazon. The father of management, Peter Drucker, said, “The purpose of all organizations is to create and keep a customer.” Sam Walton (founder of Wal-Mart) said, “A customer can fire everyone in your organization from the CEO on down just by spending their money somewhere else.” I believe being customer-centric can be a key differentiator, and my work is all about helping an organization accomplish that differentiation and distinction. And do it in a way that can be sustained.
10. Explain some missing elements in the customer service that a business or start-up must be aware of?
Too many businesses (especially start-ups) put their focus on form, not substance. For example, they worry about the look of a business card before thinking about to whom they will give the business card.
They focus on creating a really cool website rather than on ways to drive traffic to that site over and over. They worry about the quality of their products or services with an internal focus, rather than viewing it through the lens of their customers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was quoted as saying, “If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.”
That is a flawed concept. No one is coming to the door of a mousetrap builder if they do not know about it.
11. Your books have been reviewed very well. Especially “Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service” was standing out of the crowd. How will you relate it to the customer journey and customer service?
Sprinkles was written to provide readers tools, perspectives, and techniques for delivering customer experiences that customers talk to others about. It is all about value-unique, not just value-added. There is nothing wrong with value-added (giving more than is expected), expect as you give more, your customers’ expectations climb with the addition. At some point, you run out of the room (or go bankrupt trying).
However, there is no limit to ingenuity in how you serve customers. Value-unique is about making an experience special, not just good (like a cupcake with or without sprinkles). The book was written to give the frontline associates the confidence to be experimental in how they serve. It was also written to encourage leaders to provide their employees with the encouragement and authority to have fun with those they serve. One of the best service companies on the planet is Zappos.
One of their core values is “Add a little weirdness.” One of the most loved airlines is Southwest Airlines. One of their core values is “We have fun in all that we do.” It starts at the top with leaders who recognize and demonstrate if you take great care of your employees, they will take great care of your customers who will take great care of your bottom line.
12. Are you taking a shot at any new book, if yes, would you be able to disclose to us a little about it?
My newest book (Inside Your Customer’s Imagination: Five Secrets for Creating Breakthrough Products, Services, and Solutions) will be available for purchase online and in bookstores in September. It is about customer co-creation. It focuses on creating a valued partnership with customers so they can help you create breakthrough outcomes. It is about how to work WITH customers, not just on their behalf. And, it will be my 24th book!
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