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Remove the Weak Links in Your Customer Experience: Part 1

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Remove the Weak Links from Your Customer Experience Part 1 | Employee passed out

As a customer, there are few things more disappointing than having a great customer experience and then having it undone later by a different part of the organization.

As a leader, there are few things more frustrating than creating a team that delivers fantastic customer experiences only to see your good work undone by a weak team member or a different department.

Yet, as customers and leaders, we know that these things happen all of the time.

I recently had two customer experiences where the good work of dedicated, hard-working, customer-focused team members was later undone by other team members or other parts of the organization, in one case to the irreparable damage of my future as their customer.

In both of these situations are lessons for customer experience leaders in any industry.

Today, we are going to look at the first situation, when members of the same team undercut a great experience. Next week, we’ll look at what happens when another department completely wrecks the good work of the customer-facing reps in the field.

Above and Beyond Customer Service

I recently made a significant purchase of dress shoes.

I loathe clothes/shoe shopping of any kind, and I had been putting off dealing with it for quite awhile. However, I had a long run of speeches and trainings coming up, and my old shoes were no longer “stage worthy.”

A few years back, I had found a brand name shoe store that gave me very good service and that had a solid product line. They had earned my loyalty, and when it came time to bite the bullet and get some new shoes, I headed over to their local mall location.

There, I met William, who proceeded to provide me with some of the best customer service I have ever received in my life.

Here are some of the amazing things William did.

  • First, he spent over three hours with me, helping me find the right shoes for my finicky feet, my business demands, and my overall lifestyle. I ended up purchasing three pairs of shoes, as well as some other accessories due to William’s incredible attention and helpfulness.
  • Unfortunately, all three pairs had to be ordered in my size. I expressed concern to William about one particular pair not being right when it came in (there’ a backstory to this concern, but it is incidental to our story). What I didn’t want to do, after this marathon shoe buying morning, was to have to deal with returning the shoes and to have to start over looking for another pair. William did what a true customer service pro does: he took ownership of the situation and took the potential burden off of me, the customer. “You don’t worry about it,” William said. “I will have them sent to the the store and personally inspect them myself. If they’re okay, I’ll overnight them to you or, if you’re nearby,  you can pick them up.”
A true #custserv pro takes ownership of the situation and takes the burden off the customer. Click To Tweet
  • A few days later, William called me to personally tell me that my shoes were ready. He explained that he had personally inspected the entire order. In fact, the shoes I had been concerned about did come in with an issue, and he had sent them back and had the them replaced. He again offered to overnight all of the shoes; however, since my wife was going to be in the area, I told him she could pick them up.
  • When my wife arrived at the store, William could have just handed her the bag, but instead, he offered for her to sit and enjoy an espresso before continuing her day and then personally took her through the entire order, even specifically explaining what was wrong with the first pair of shoes that came in and showing her that the new pair had none of the same issues. He even offered to carry the bags to the car for her (in a shopping mall!).

In the end, both my wife and I left the experience blown away by William and by the brand.

In fact, I had originally planned to write an entire blog post (naming the company) about the incredible customer experience we had. But then, something else happened.

A few weeks later, my wife went back.

Service, with a Side Order of Insult

One of the services this company offers is a refresh of old shoes. I had a pair of shoes that were fairly worn, not beyond help, but they were definitely dried and cracked enough that you could see the issues, even right after a shine. So, we took them in for the refresh

Unfortunately, William wasn’t there when my wife took in the older shoes.

As soon as my wife put the shoes on the counter, the rep at the store looked at the shoes and said, “Why are you refreshing these? They look fine.” My wife was taken aback by the comment, but simply responded that her husband wanted them refreshed.

And it didn’t end there.

To add insult to previous insult, the store rep called over another store rep and said, “Check out these shoes that they want refreshed. I wish my shoes looked this good.”

Needless to say, I was less than thrilled when my wife recounted the story to me.

First, the rep had basically gone out of his way to make me feel like an idiot for sending the shoes in — and for giving them more of my money.

Second, he demonstrated that William was William, he was not the brand. I could possibly expect incompetent (the shoes really did look bad!) and certainly less than courteous service if William ever decided to move on and I had to work with a different salesperson.

Customer Experience Leaders: Find and Fix Your Weak Links

Your brand is only as strong as your weakest customer experience. Your customer experience is only as strong as your weakest link.

Your brand is only as strong as your weakest customer experience. Click To Tweet

Customers will rapidly jump to the conclusion that the team member they like is an exception and does not represent your brand when they receive poor service from another team member.

The first step is identifying the weak links on your team. The next step is either providing the coaching or customer service training needed to help them provide customer-focused experiences or removing the weak link from the chain.

Because creating a chain of experience delivery with the strongest links possible is essential to ensuring that your Hero-Class® customer experiences don’t become Zero-Class customer experiences.

About the Author Adam Toporek

By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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