When organizations invite me to speak at their conferences or train their team members, we start with trends that are impacting their member or customer relationships. Check out these four customer service trends along with some tips for capitalising on them to boost your association:
1. Good Service is Wallpaper
Today's customers and members are so busy with their multiple demands at home and work and are so distracted by their mobile devices that they no longer even notice "good" service. That means your team may work all day long delivering consistent service and your reward will be zero. Today's customer or member only notices two types of service: 1) poor service and 2) REMARKable service -- literally. They need to be so impressed that they are motivated to remark or talk about your service. That brings us to trend number two and what they talk about.
2. 'Better' Brands Do Not Sell
When your not-for-profit faces tough competition, being better gets lost in the clutter. Lots of organizations claim to have better service. That is the problem. Customers and members do not believe it. Better doesn't motivate the organization to make significant changes when what they already have is reasonably good. What members and customers want to know is what makes you unique. That requires you and your team members to explore options to do things differently. Get creative. Take calculated risks to test different ways of operating. Disrupt your market. Give customers and members something different to talk about. Or one of your competitors for their money or attention will.
3. Choices Just Confuse
Offering a vast array of products and services is no longer considered by customers or members to be helpful. Today, if they want to take the time and energy to explore choices, they can do an internet search and be instantly overwhelmed. Too many choices do not lead to customer purchases and membership enrollments. They do lead to decision fatigue. This is where your team members can stand out. Their role becomes to analyse customer and membership needs, explore which options are best suited to satisfy those needs, and present two or three final candidates in the simplest fashion to make deciding easier.
4. Retain vs Blame
This may seem counterintuitive -- in today's increasingly litigious society, it is more important than ever that organizations admit fault and make amends the moment they have a service slip-up. It is not just that they could be sued and lose. Smart service providers have done the math and know that is it is much less costly to do the right thing than to have disgruntled customers trashing your brand or members not renewing. Especially when social media messages can quickly go viral (an apt term since it effectively gives your brand a disease that makes people want to avoid you). The good news is that customers and members (especially those that have been with your organization for years) are wonderfully forgiving towards organizations who quickly own their mistakes, and who do something to address the hassle they caused.
5. Bottom Line
When we combine these trends we see the emergence of a theme. Growing your organization's membership or ability to monetize with today's other customer segments means you and your team members need to be easy to work with. That means coming up with unique processes that make buying from and otherwise interacting with your organization easier. It means narrowing the choices so that buying decisions are easier. Moreover, it means training your team members so that -- even when things go wrong -- they recover lost trust. Quickly and easily.
This article is based on the bestselling book, Becoming a Service Icon in 90 Minutes a Month by customer service strategist and Hall of Fame motivational speaker, Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit www.jeffmowatt.com.
This article is © Jeff Mowatt, 2017, and is used with permission.
Beyond what Jeff talks about here, in her book, The Art of MembershipL How to Attract, Retain, and Cement Member Loyalty, Sheri Jacobs, CAE also takes on issues of membership. Much like Jeff's approach, but in different contexts, Sheri discusses the importance of building relationships and a connection with one's members. Get the book to find out more.
Looking over the CSAE BoardREADY Card Deck, one can see quite a few cards would be of value with the issues and points Jeff brings up. However, four jumped out as especially relevant.
Effective customer service begins with understanding what your association is doing well and what it needs to improve on (or is outright dropping the ball on.) Understanding this means assessing how your organization's activities are carried out after the fact (and even during the process, if possible.) Doing so enables your association to better identify its strengths and weaknesses to cut off customer service issues before they arise. Understandably, this process requires your organization be prepared to question how it currently gets things done and be willing to change where necessary.
An important part of examining and repairing your organization's flawed processes is a willingness to hear what those who interact with it have to say. You must be open to honestly considering the opinions of contractors, contributors, members, volunteers, and customers. You must hear what they have to say and prepare for them to be right and you wrong. And, once you have heard all sides and investigated where things went wrong, your organization must take the time to address issues properly. Do not rush ahead with a bandage solution -- take the time to fully understand the problem so your solution will be the best possible option.
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