Customer Service Is Critical To Success.
A number of years ago my work life was frustrating. While I was professionally competent and I was successful through shear force of will — each day was filled with uncertainty. Unplanned events and unhappy customers seemed to dominate my day and controlled how I spent my time. This daily cycle of chaos left me feeling stressed, less productive and scrambling to meet customer expectations.
Where does Customer Service Fit In?
I tried many things to put order into what I was doing, and some of my efforts worked — for a while, and then I would find myself back where I started, more stressed than before, spending way too much time dealing with customer issues and not delivering my products or services. Products and services, after all, were my job, right? Something was missing.
I used action plans — this helped. I documented workflows — this helped. I put together flowcharts — this helped. I gave training sessions to my staff — this helped. I attended seminars — this helped. I built databases to be more efficient with data — this helped. I managed my calendar daily — this helped. I eliminated non-priority activity — this helped. I reduced reliance on meetings — this helped. I focused on my communications — this helped. These were all important pieces of the puzzle that was coming together. Still, something was missing.
Working On The Puzzle
In my gut, I knew I needed to keep looking for that certain something. I wasn’t sure what it was, yet I felt I was getting closer.
Then, while cleaning out some files, I came across a flyer for a leadership event I attended a number of years ago. Notable speakers at this event were General Colin Powell and Zig Zigler. Both gave very different motivational presentations with remarkably similar themes.
Be open. Be honest. Communicate. Listen to others.
Zig Ziglar, author, motivational speaker and former salesman, is quoted as saying: “Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.”
Right then a couple more pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
Completing The Puzzle
In 2002 I assumed responsibility for a large IT project, pulling together employee data from 10 companies, 6 different payroll systems, for over 10,000 employees. We were building web-based software to meet some critical business needs. And, since the scope of what we were doing was greater than what I had done before, I knew I did not know the details of all the needs. I learned the art of requirements gathering from our data architect. And, more importantly, as this project moved forward over its five year life cycle, I learned the importance of keeping all of our customers and key stakeholders informed. While common sense might dictate the sensibility of this, this was the last, missing piece of the puzzle.
Keep The Customer Informed
I was interested in the best way to keep the customer informed. With lots of customer input, I landed on SNAP — specifically, let the customer know the STATUS of things, let the customer know what the NEXT STEPS are, let the customer know the APPROXIMATE TIMELINE for things to happen, and let the customer know what the PLANNED OUTCOME is to be.
63% of executives report a Customer Centric Strategy would increase revenues; 69% report lack of collaboration and information silos as major barriers.
So, why don’t more of us have follow a customer centric strategy?
It was now 2002, and the genesis of SNAP was born. While all the pieces of the puzzle are important, you need all of them to have a complete picture, the most important piece is communication with your customers.
SNAP Was The Answer
The daily cycle of feeling stressed, less productive and scrambling for customer outcomes was gone. SNAP became even more powerful for me after I started using it on a regular basis.
I now used SNAP daily. I shared it with my teams. I baked it into the core foundation of how I worked. It became part of my project plans. My staff meetings. My leadership briefings. Any updates. My communications. It is now the core of how I plan and work through each day. Customer centric communication is forms the core framework for success.
After working like this for a while, I showed what I was doing to some trusted colleagues, and they urged me to formalize SNAP and to share it with others.
Five Key Insights
1. SNAP connects to what’s important to you.
SNAP is a communication framework. No matter what your line of business, who and how you communicate is absolutely critical. SNAP is a framework that is customizable to meet your needs. It is not a script, and it does not determine your priorities. You do.
2. SNAP helps you set important expectations.
Setting and delivering on expectations layers predictability into your work patterns and into your customer relationships. This predictability reduces stress and improves outcomes.
3. SNAP is easy to use.
Crafting a set of simple statements you address:
- The STATUS of your relationship or the status of what you are doing for the customer
- The NEXT STEPS your customer should expect from you or steps you need from your customer
- The APPROXIMATE TIMELINE these next steps might take, or the amount of time until something else will happen
- The PLANNED OUTCOME, what the customer can expect to see happen or the result of your relationship with the customer
4. Have you ever wondered:
- Why you hear the same questions from your customers over and over
- How you can reduce customer complaints
- How you can improve customer satisfaction
- How you can reduce misunderstandings around what service or product you deliver
- How you can improve your relationship with your customers
- How you can give your customers a better understanding of how long things will take
- How you can remove customer interruptions from your daily routine
- How you can free up time in your busy day
- How you can be more productive
- How you can improve your repeat customer count
- How you can reduce your customer’s stress and uncertainty levels
- How you can reduce your stress levels
- How you can increase the consistency of your customer interactions
- How you can be more efficient with your customer communications
SNAP is a simple tool set that will help you address all of the items noted above — and many more.
5. SNAP, when used consistently, will:
- Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Increase your productivity - Improve your sales
- Return precious time to your busy day
- Reduce your stress
- Improve your credibility with your customer and your team
Percentage of customers who stopped doing business with a company: 73% because of rude staff; 51% due to staff lack of knowledge; 55% because issues were not resolved in a timely manner.
Who Should Use SNAP?
You, me and anyone else. SNAP is for anyone who communicates with a customer or a client. Customers are the life blood of what we do. Without the customer, we are out of business, out of a job, out of income. We are nothing without the customer. So, SNAP is for anyone who has a customer.
76% of customers report purchase decisions are a result of word of mouth referrals. 85% of customers are willing to pay a higher price to ensure a great customer experience. 97% of customers share their customer experience. 55% of customers started to patronize a company because of its excellent customer service reputation. 82% of customers stopped patronizing a company because of a poor experience.
While not absolutely everyone may be “highly dependent” on customers, a short list is noted below. SNAP helps those of us who are creative, autonomous, self-driven, care about outcomes and rely on customer revenue.
We Rely On Customers
- Small business owners
- Software developers
- College professors
- Clerical workers
- Service workers
- Service providers
- Mid-level managers
- Workshop leaders
- Event coordinators
In the examples listed work is being done for someone else. That someone else is the customer. The customer wants to know the STATUS of things, the NEXT STEPS, the APPROXIMATE TIMELINE and the PLANNED OUTCOME.
From 2009 to 2010 more customers reported being dissatisfied with service. 1 out of 3 retail customers switched companies due to poor service.
Our customers want SNAP. Our customers want us to Deliver Excellent Customer Service With A SNAP.
“Deliver Excellent Customer Service With A SNAP” is a 180 page book — for the cost of two large lattes you get a life time use of insights and guidance on how to use SNAP messages.
- You will be less stressed
- Get more done
- Have fewer customer complaints
- Make more money
- Improve customer loyalty
- Have more satisfied customers
Customers who have a great experience are significantly more likely to refer others as customers and more likely to return for additional purchases, and more likely to be forgiving for an occasional short coming — all of this is good for your business.
Customers who have one poor experience are very likely to not return, likely to switch to a competitor, likely to tell others of their poor experience — all of this is bad for your business.
84% of people would walk away from a company that does not listen. 74% of people would respond to companies that understand them, including agree to additional marketing and actively telling others about the company.
- Invest in SNAP.
- Invest in your customers.
- Invest in outcomes that are in your best interests.
“Deliver Excellent Customer Service With A SNAP” gives us a quick and easy to use, yet extremely powerful communications technique that is critical for improving customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.
The data shared on this page come from a variety of sources, such as RightNow, Harris Interactive, Coveo Solutions Inc. and Accenture, and is shared to illustrate the importance of excellence in the customer experience and the danger of poor experiences.
© 2014 – 2015, Philip Espinosa. All rights reserved.