Forget Customer Service -Create Customer Experience Instead
If you're in insurance, and I ask you why your customers do business with you, and you answer "Because we give great service," I will probably punch you in the throat. Come to think of it, no matter what industry you're in, if you give the same answer, the results will be the same ;)
Honestly, I'm a pretty easygoing person (and non-violent). But sayings like this throw me into a fit the likes of which my 3-year-old would envy.
Simply saying "We Give Great Service" is complete crap.
Because who honestly says "We give the WORST service in the world and that's why you should do business with us!" No one, that's who. That makes you NO different than your competition. SO quit saying it. PLEASE. Instead you need to create an experience unique to YOU.
Simply saying "We Give Great Service" will not bring you hordes of raving customers. But creating a positive customer experience will. Here's a recent example from my own experience.
I met with the prospect (let's call her Teresa) in her office. I've known Teresa for a while as she's a loan officer at the same bank I do business with. I was reviewing her current policies and asking questions -my normal needs assessment. When we were finished, I asked her "So what made you contact me?" Here's her reply:
Well, I see you, your dad, and your staff come into the bank all the time. I see how you interact with our staff, telling jokes and just being friendly. I also follow you on Facebook and really enjoy what you post. I love your personal posts about your kids and the funny things they do. I just love you! Plus, I follow the agency Facebook page and can get a pretty good idea of what you guys are like- funny, yet helpful. Personable, yet professional. I get to know everyone- pictures of the cats and the staff help a lot! You also share a lot of community news and general insurance information I find helpful. I just love what you offer and told myself "I want to be a part of THAT!"
Read that last part again VERY carefully- "I want to be a part of THAT!" THAT is the experience I'm talking about.
Honestly, I was blown away by what she said. And thrilled beyond measure.
From this conversation and my research, I've developed 4 key steps to create a customer experience your audience craves. Because the days of customer service are gone. Customer experience is where you need to focus.
Step 1- Commit it to paper, the cloud or on a cocktail napkin -but it must be documented
I am currently working with a consultant to revamp and document our agency processes. That includes the customer experience. Our existing process has been scattered and poorly communicated. In other words, non-existent. Here's what you get by documenting your customer experience process:
- Efficiency- if you don't have to come up with the steps every time, that will save you time right?
- Control- if you take control of the customer experience, you can be more proactive as opposed to reactive.
- Opportunity for all members within the organization to contribute.
- Opportunity for cross-education with other team members.
If you rely on memory, you are doomed. If you rely on your team's memory, you are doomed. Remember this saying "If you ink it, you'll think it!"
Step 2- Once it's documented, it must be communicated to and followed by ALL members of your team
You write down anything you want, but if no one does it, then really what was the point?
We are long past the days of operating in silos. Every single department needs to understand and subscribe to the customer experience. Accounting, sales, production. human resources, everybody. We all contribute, therefore, we all must participate. We all must work together. Trust me, this is a HUGE shift in thinking. And one many find difficult to execute.
But eveyone in your organization has to be on board with creating the customer experience. This breeds consistency, and consistency breeds results.
Step 3- Make sure your reality matches the perception you want people to have
Familiar with the saying "People's perceptions are their reality?" If you want your audience to perceive you as helpful, friendly and the perfect solution to whatever their problem is, you need to communicate this. And not just verbally -your actions will tell the story as well.
The online world of social media has really made this point clear. There is nothing I find more upsetting than patronizing a business that I follow on social media and discovering that how they are in reality is NOT how they've portrayed themselves on social media. It's jarring to say the least.
Whether you follow me personally or my agency on social media, you'll quickly see that how I portray either is exactly how it is in real life. AS to the agency, here's some of the qualities you'll see:
- Cat lovers
- Sense of humor
- Local resource
- Community oriented
Step 4- Monitor and revise
This could be as simple as checking open rates on a welcome email series you send to new customers (something we do at my agency, Alan Galvez Insurance). Monitor the rates by calendar quarter. If very few are being opened, then you need to find out why. And then, all you need to is ask for feedback. Contact the people who didn't open the emails and ask why. Their answer will tell you exactly what you need to know to revise your process. Maybe they hate emails. Maybe you can send a hard copy welcome packet instead. Or maybe they want a series of text messages. Or a handwritten note. You won't know unless you ask.
And once you know, you can modify your message and send them one that personalizes their customer experience and suits their needs.
That's my take on creating the customer experience. And I believe in every fiber of my being that creating the customer experience is the next crucial phase in insurance marketing.
Agree? Disgree? What did I forget? What do YOU want to add?