Customer service and experience expert, Shep Hyken, is doling out tons of actionable (and free) advice right on Twitter.
I’ll admit that when I accepted my position at PATLive, I knew very little about customer service. Beyond the niceties that are practically baked-into my southern upbringing, I had never really considered service as anything beyond thanking the customer as you hand them their fries.
With a whole blog and social media accounts to manage, I needed inspiration (and tons of research) to get my creative juices flowing.
That’s when I stumbled onto Shep Hyken’s Twitter account. And the NYT Best-Selling Author did not disappoint.
The content he writes is astute and helpful–the kind of content you can actually use and apply to your business. He has a slough of quality content right at the touch of your fingertips: guest blogs, videos, podcast episodes, DVDs, an app, plus a handful of books.
In addition to his content, he’s incredibly engaging on social media. Go ahead and ask him for advice! He will chime in with some sage words. Want to know where to get the best toasted raviolis in St. Louis? Ask him! He’s local. He’ll tell you.
I’m no business owner–it’s true. But I am writer who focuses on customer service and experience, and Shep has taught me a lot about the industry.
Ready to see what all the hype is about? Here are five valuable lessons I learned while following Shep Hyken on Twitter.
1. Customer service is holistic.
Shep Hyken’s advice isn’t unlike the concept of Dr. Seuss’ children’s classic, Horton Hears A Who.
SPOILER ALERT: Horton, an elephant, is trying against all odds to save a Who village that exists on a thistle. The other jungle creatures believe Horton is only hearing things and that the Who’s don’t exist, so they threaten to boil the thistle in oil.
Horton asks the Who’s to start making as much noise as possible, but the other creatures can’t hear them. That is, until they find the one Who–the tiniest of them all–isn’t making a sound. When he makes a noise, the other animals finally believe the Who’s exist and they all begin protecting the thistle along with Horton.
If you want your organization to focus on its customer, it can’t be the customer-facing team carrying that burden alone. Every person needs to know their role in creating customer success and customer advocates.
2. Make things easy for customers.
The more steps a customer has to take or the more they have to do to solve a problem is a step closer toward your competitor.
Your organization has the advantage when you make it easy for your customers to get your product, use that product and solve the issues with that product. In fact, the primary driver of loyalty is reducing customer effort.
Here are some steps you can take that will reduce customer effort…
- Anticipate issues and be proactive – Take note of problems customers have had so you can help others avoid the same issues.
- Heed the feedback of angry customers – Instead of taking negative feedback personally, use it to fuel improvements to your product.
- Provide several channels for communication – Not everyone wants to talk on the phone. Increasingly, customers are using live chat and social media to resolve issues. Make sure you offer more than one way for customers to connect.
- Avoid long and confusing phone automation – Does anyone else just hit zero until they get a live person? Surely I’m not alone in that. Complex phone trees can be confusing and, worse, can make the customer feel hopeless and unimportant. Incorporating a 24/7 live answering service ensures your customers are reaching a real human on every call.
3. A handwritten note is always a nice touch.
When I graduated from high school, I wanted to do anything other than handwriting thank you notes to the lovely people who gave me cash and luggage. Sadly, this mentality has carried me well into adulthood. I don’t write nearly enough notes. That’s what social media is for, right?
This doesn’t mean that I haven’t experienced the delight of receiving a handwritten thank you note from a business. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
When Etsy first launched, I couldn’t wait to order something handmade as a present for my sister. My sister used to write poetry, and I found her the most gorgeous leather notebook.
When the package arrived, I tore at the taped up box with abandon as if it was for me. Tucked inside a lovingly packed box was a note written to me by the Etsy store owner. It all felt so personal and special.
Because of that one note, I have used Etsy’s site hundreds of times; I know the chances are extremely high that the product will be well-crafted and come with a side of customer appreciation.
So much communication happens by way of automated email or with the click of a reaction button. Shep Hyken reminded me that setting aside the time to write out a thoughtful note is a standout move.
4. One small change makes a huge impact.
It’s easy to get caught up in bigger ideas that will move your company forward. Spending a lot of money on fancy ad campaigns or purchasing a pricey customer service tool could help. But Shep Hyken is asking you to think smaller: make a one percent improvement on your service.
In his blog post, “How Can Thinking Small Propel You to Greatness,” Hyken said that making even minor tweaks can set you apart from your competition.
“All they have to do is be better than average – higher than the bar. And, how much better do they have to be? Just a little better. A small improvement. A minor tweak. That’s what makes big differences. And when that ‘just a little above average’ interaction is something that happens again and again, as in it being consistent, then the customer says, ‘You are amazing!’”
Go beyond average and think small!
5. Customer savvy is at an all-time high.
Customers are using more channels than ever before to communicate with brands and purchase products. In addition to outstanding service, it’s imperative their experience is consistent across all channels. Did you know that…
- 61% of customers have not been able to easily switch from one channel to another when interacting with customer service. (Aspect)
- 87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent experience. (Kampyle)
- 70% of consumers say technology has made it easier than ever to take their business elsewhere. (Salesforce)
Technology is playing a huge role in customer churn and the internet is making it easier than ever to find competitive brands that offer consistent service on every channel.
Can you recall a time when you were thrown by the tone of customer support on the phone because it didn’t match that of the person you talked to on live chat or social media?
I once reached out to a clothing brand on social media regarding a fit issue. Online support was prompt, kind and super helpful. There was one last step: I just needed to place a call to complete the transaction.
The phone support was the exact opposite. The rep was unfriendly, cold, no-nonsense–not at all what I had experienced on social media. I felt confused and frustrated. The experience made me turn my back on a brand I had once been loyal to.
Ensuring measures are in place to create a consistent experience across all channels drives loyalty and creates more opportunities.
My tip: if you’re just too busy to do it right yourself it’s perfectly okay to get some help from professionals like PATLive.
If you own or manage a business, following Shep Hyken on Twitter is one of the most invaluable things you can do. He’s tapped into the current business trends and will help you keep your head above water with your customers.
Thanks for all the incredible advice, Shep! We appreciate you.