Customer care is not the same as it was just 10 years ago. It is no longer just answering a phone call or smiling behind a desk. Major brands today look to provide a “customer experience” around their products and services. Customer experience has to do with knowing and catering to what your customer sees, hears, tastes and feels around your brand, creating an atmosphere of “I want to be here and I want to help”.
How do the major brands handle customer experience?
Amazon. Apple. L.L Bean and Zappos.
These 4 juggernauts made it under 2015’s “Prosper: Insight and Analytics Customer Service Champions”. What do they all have in common? Well, according to Prosper’s Study these companies are a few of the businesses that provide the BEST customer service/experience from over 600 different candidates across 9 different industries.
In order to understand what it takes to truly engage with customers in 2016, we decided to take a look at how some of these major brands approach the “customer experience” and how they differentiate themselves from the competition.
Be hands on
Apple stores have an almost cult-like following. Customers and fans can visit, hang out and handle Apple’s devices in the apple store is part of the customer experience apple offers, they also have quirky name for the panel of support agents, namely the Genius Bar as well as asking their customers whether they wouldn’t like being aided by geniuses as they claim to only select those that are extremely through with their devices. Well done Apple!
The Empty Chair
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is known for his obsession with providing an excellent customer service. It is because of his dedication and the wonderful support team they have that Amazon repeatedly tops best customer service charts. Anyone who’s ever had to deal with a shipping return or a refund will and can vouch for this exemplary customer support. Bezos asks all managers, including himself, to attend a call center training seminar for 2 days each year.
Another effective, and slightly bizarre, practice is the empty chair Bezos brings into conferences and important meetings which represents the presence of the customer. This places a certain weight on any decisions made as the invisible, but very clear presence of the customer, is never forgotten and always taken into consideration.
Zappos is the biggest shoe and clothing store and is undoubtedly one of the companies that delivers amazing customer support. The CEO Tony Hsieh (pronounced shay) even wrote a book Delivering Happiness that is an excellent read if you have the time. Tony stresses on company culture and making your workplace an enjoyable space to be in. They stress on making a personal connection to their customer disregarding the worldwide practice of trying to minimize the time spent on each ticket/customer. Zappos gives their employees all the time to make this connection and deliver a “wow” through service, creating a workplace that employees want to spend time at.
To quote a Zappos employee, “It’s what makes me want to come to work every day, even my weekends”. Employee happiness can make a huge impact on the way they treat their customers. Zappos is even known to offer monetary compensation to all employees who wish to leave in order to ensure that they only retain those that have their passion and drive!
Simplicity is the best policy
L.L Bean doesn’t have any fancy tricks up their sleeve. They are all about simplicity. They follow the understanding that it is a “day-in, day-out, ongoing, never-ending, persevering, compassionate kind of activity”. L.L Bean also offers their customers amazing deals such as lifetime guarantees.
An example of the potential of such offers is this lady who’d purchased a pair of silk under garments via mail order from L.L Bean. Happy with the speed of delivery and the quality of the product, she had no complaints. 20 years later this lady had moved to Singapore and had been unpacking boxes when she came across this undergarment, now old with wear and frayed at the edges. Recalling the lifetime guarantee L.L Bean offered she sent the item back with a note asking them to replace it, all the while thinking that even great customer service has its boundaries. About a month later she received two envelopes, one with a dollar in it and one with brand new silk under garments! The dollar, when she called customer service, was explained to be a refund of the money she had spent sending it across to them.
Talk about legendary customer service!
Be Another Success Story Because, Why Not?!
It’s all about finding ways to make your customer feel unique, special and appreciated. In the customer service industry mistakes and issues are bound to come up. If not we wouldn’t need customer support agents would we?
The Ritz – Carlton understands this and addresses it in a very interesting way. One practice they have is “resetting the customer’s internal clock”. For example, a customer ordering an entrée at one of their restaurants would have to wait around 20 minutes for it to be served. However, due to something unforeseen the food is delayed. Instead of having a steward walk up to the table, apologize and leave to simply check on the food, the Ritz-Carlton has a policy of sending over a complimentary item from the appetizer menu or a drink from the bar, thereby setting back the customers internal clock.
Now of course most businesses can’t really afford to dish out the big bucks, refund or send complimentary items or even have pop up stores all over the world. However, what they can do is make an effort into putting more thought and placing more importance on customer service. The main idea behind exceptional customer service is being there for your customers whenever they need you, to not keep them waiting and to provide a very personalized service.
This sort of personalized services are what the biggest brands around the globe are built on. One key lesson we can learn here is – no matter how large or small your empire is, providing exceptional customer support is essential to success!