I travel frequently between Denver and our corporate headquarters, Salt Lake City and I am a big fan of Southwest Airlines. They are usually on time, have plenty of times to choose from for the SLC-DIA route and they have nice, big planes that seem to deal with the inevitable turbulence between these two mountainous states better than the smaller planes of their competitors. I’ve recommended Southwest often and defended the inevitable ‘cattle call’ comment about their line-up process. Clearly, I’m an advocate and it would be hard to get me to switch to another airline.
But, here is my problem. They don’t recognize me. I call their call center and I get thrown into a queue with the folks who may travel once per year. I don’t get upgrades. I feel like I am a number to them, despite my loyalty. In my opinion, this is a lost opportunity for them and there are lessons in this anecdote which other organizations can learn from to make their customers feel special.
- Differentiate the service experience for high value customers. The truth is, there are customers who contribute mightily to your bottom line and there are customers who cost your company money. Figure out the difference and differentiate the customer experience for those high-value customers.
- Make it easy to do business with your organization. I personally will choose self-service over talking to an agent every time if you make it easy for me. Put your company’s self-service options prominently where folks can see them and make your IVR super simple to use. And, as my colleague Madelyn noted in her blog post, make sure you optimize your IVR frequently.
- Reward your advocates. If you have a customer who is consistently your biggest fan, reward him or her. You don’t have to offer financial incentives, but a heartfelt ‘thank you’ via email or event tweeted out to your followers is appreciated.
- Seek their input. Have thousands of followers on Twitter? Ask them how you can improve their customer experience (in 140 characters or less). Want to test a new solution? Form a customer advisory council. Everyone likes to be asked their opinion and you’ll end up with a whole list of ideas that you can then use to improve your company.
- Ask them to speak about something they are passionate about. At inContact, we started a “Problem Solved” road tour that prominently features our customers talking about a particular challenge they faced in their call center and how they solved it. We’ve found that our customers enjoy the experience of sharing best practices with their peers and our attendees have benefited from our customers’ relevant experience.
The bottom line is that we all seek to be recognized and little things mean a lot. What have you done to differentiate your customer experience and make your customers feel special?