One spring day in September, our fibre data connection at home died. The sunny days that followed became increasingly darker as I was shunted between Internet Service Provider (ISP) and Internet Network. I spoke with multiple people, often having to retell my story over and over again! The Internet Network could see a connection on their side and closed the ‘ticket’ and so I ended up back at my ISP, who told me for the umpteenth time to reboot the CPE box, which was the little white box mounted on the wall in our home. Yes, lo and behold, even following a reboot, it still did not work. After hearing the same response from my ISP, I insisted then they speak to the network. Finally, after 10 days, the network sent their technicians out, who indeed discovered a fault and got everything up and running. It took them less than an hour to identify the problem and restore the connection. Apart from this technical fault that only the network could solve, it really did seem there was a significant communication problem within the ISP.
I got the impression that my ISP just wanted to perform a quick fix, rather than implement methods focused on long term relationship building.
That got me thinking – surely businesses that desire long-term success need to value each interaction with each client? It requires skill, inspiration, patience, care, maturity, and the willingness to see each interaction through to resolution.
As an employee of a business, how can you show that you still care when interacting with your colleagues? How can you display this value when you encounter both the pleasant and unpleasant conversations guaranteed to present themselves in client interactions?
Although there are myriad recommendations we could make for displaying how much we value the relationship, let us focus on just two, namely:
- Effective Communication
- Client Experience
- Effective Communication
What happens when there is a lack of effective communication in business?
‘It can lead to breakdowns and unengaged employees or leaders if they don’t feel valued and respected. Bad communication creates tension and a negative dynamic and environment. Ultimately, communication is the key to building trust interpersonally and within a team, and trust is essential to great performance and outcomes.’
Effective communication takes focused effort, perseverance, evaluation and feedback. A focused effort on continual improvement is necessary until it becomes deeply entrenched in the culture of your business. Let us look at some of these areas and discuss them more now.
- Focused effort
All interdepartmental touch points need to be identified. A picture comes to mind of a relay race where the baton is passed from one team member to another. That process requires practice to ensure the process works well. In the same way, focused effort within business is necessary when passing on a client’s query inter-departmentally. It must be walked through to establish the possible hiccups along the way and what can be done to make the process more seamless.
In order to produce lasting, effective communication results, perseverance is required. A quick fix may not consider all role-players and all aspects that must be addressed. Time, patience and perseverance are necessary when creating effective communication that will ultimately lead to a more positive client experience.
An effective communication plan should be evaluated. Client and interdepartmental feedback are helpful in establishing how effective implemented methods are.
Effective Communication is a fundamental way we can display that we really do care. When we communicate well and inform clients of the action we are taking, keeping them informed along the way, we demonstrate our interest and the client is put at ease. They experience uneasiness, along with other negative emotions, when we fail to focus on effective communication.
Clients are willing to pay more for an outstanding experience. For example, you can go to a local fast-food place for a cup of coffee. You can get the same size cup of coffee at a nicer restaurant, in a nice environment, but sometimes you will pay more. Why? It comes down to Client Experience. You are paying for that same cup of coffee in a nicer environment.
‘Capgemini, a global leader in consulting, technology and outsourcing services, has announced the findings of “The Disconnected Customer: What digital customer experience leaders teach us about reconnecting with customers”, a study of more than 3,300 consumers and 450 executives at the companies that serve them. The research reveals a gap between how businesses and consumers perceive the quality of their customer experience. While three-quarters (75%) of organizations believe themselves to be customer-centric, only 30% of consumers agree. Frustrated by organizations that don’t listen to their feedback or reward their loyalty, the majority of consumers are willing to increase their spend with an organization in return for a better experience (81%).’
What can you do today, and beyond, to improve the Client Experience in each interaction they have with you and your business?
Let me conclude by saying that as we continue to face economic pressure in South Africa, with many businesses continuing to tighten the belt, Client Experience should be foundational and influence every action taken by a business. May clients so love doing business with your business they simply would not consider your competitor.