Enhancing the “Customer Experience” should be driven by Sense, not Dollars

by Jeff Wiener on December 11, 2015

common senseFor several years now the term “customer experience” has been bandied about in the business world, a buzzword that has seemingly lost its true meaning as companies try to figure out how to make true, meaningful, and lasting connections with customers using scripts, algorithms, and other such standardized approaches.

In fact, it seems the Internet is littered with lists and articles about the “10 Essential Strategies for Customer Service,” or the “Top Five Ways to Enhance the Customer Experience,” quick fix solutions to an issue that, to tell the truth, isn’t that difficult to solve.

The problem with these lists, with helpful tips, and with much of today’s corporate culture in fact, is that businesses are looking for ways to mimic actual customer connections, desperate for tools that allow them to bypass the actual getting to know a customer and replace it with some sort of magic data-fueled formula that will achieve them the same results.

Granted there is something to be said for the responsible collection and integration of customer information, but what I’ve noticed is that, by and large, such strategies lack a basic level of common sense, a problem exacerbated by companies often wanting to hurry through the relationship-building segment of customer service in an effort to get to the part that matters to them most: the money making part.

Now admittedly I’ve filled my fair share of Internet pages with advice on how to improve customer service; tips and strategies that I’ve learned over the years that I’m keen to share with everyone. But at the heart of everything I say regarding enhancing the customer experience is one simple tool: common sense.

The fact of the matter is that as much as we like to talk about common sense, the problem is that it’s really not so common anymore, and I think we’re seeing that in this new age of digital connections. As companies fumble about trying to establish multi-channel connection points between them and their prospective customers, what is often lost in the shuffle is that the people on the other end of the business transaction are exactly that, people.

So instead of us talking about “relationship selling,” or enhancing the “customer experience” or “customer relationship management”, what we should really be talking about is how to meaningfully connect with people, and how our business, whatever that might be, can help those people meet their needs and solve their problems.

More to the point, a true customer experience means that customer doesn’t feel like a number, or the mark of a shifty salesperson, or a problem that needs to be remedied, and that sort of experience is not something you can generate with software, or scripts, or anything like that.

And this is where common sense comes in to play. First and foremost, empower your employees to make decisions, for there’s nothing worse than trying to learn about what a customer needs than having to ask someone else for decision-making permissions every few minutes or forcing your employees to follow a preset line of discussion.

Second, think about connection before commoditization, or rather, see the person on the other end of the interaction, be it through Twitter, Facebook or the good ol’ phone, as a real person, not as simple part of some formula for increasing sales. Finally, consider the needs of your customer above your own. If you genuinely want to help a customer solve their problems as opposed to just making money off of them, you’ll find that the customer experience is created organically, and profit will be a natural by-product of that genuine customer relationship.

Now admittedly this might sound obvious to many of you, and so it should, it is a “common sense” approach to customer service after all. But the problem with common sense is that it’s not as common as we might think, and the noticeable lack of such sense in the business world is eroding the very foundation of customer service and relationships upon which long term business success is built.

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