We had the pleasure of hosting another live, information-packed webinar with customer service keynote speaker and best-selling author, Dr. Chip Bell.
Dr. Bell is the founder of the Chip Bell Group. He brings decades of corporate experience prior to starting this consulting firm, when he served as Director of Organizational Development at NCNB, which is now Bank of America.
He is the author of 9 successful books on customer service, including “Wired and Dangerous – How Your Customers Have Changed and What to Do About it” which is this webinar’s topic.
Who is Our Customer?
Chip Bell begins the webinar with a very important point: Our customers come in many different forms. They could be co-workers, colleagues, clients, guests, patients, and so on. They are those we serve or who depend on our efforts to get their needs met, whether it’s business-to-consumer, business-to-business, or our internal customers: the people we work for and with.
How Customers Have Changed
All categories of customers have changed in their behavior, needs and expectations, and this is not a slow, evolutionary change but a very rapid change. This is partically due to the fact that customers have a lot more product and service choices than they had before, and they are also a lot smarter in their buying process. With the dawning of the internet and easy access to information using mobile devices, more and more consumers research products and companies online, before making a decision. If they are going to buy their next car or book a restaurant, hotel or vacation, they usually do their research first and check customer ratings and reviews. Not only that, e-commerce is on a steady track to replace retail stores, or at least retail stores as we now know them.
Experience is Key
Chip Bell points out that customers have changed drastically since the recession in 2008, and we are still seeing the effects of this. Before, if we took a pie and divided it in parts, the parts would be more or less equal in terms of what mattered to the customer: quality of product or service, price and experience.
But nowadays, the customer experience is taking a much larger piece of that pie and has a larger impact on the customer’s perception of value. Now they assume they will always recieve a great product at a fair price, but the differentiator, what will set any business apart, is the quality of their experience.
So a company’s competition is, in truth, any company that succeeds in delivering an exceptional experience. As newer companies gain insight into and anticipate customer behaviors and needs, they also play a role in developing customer expectations. A great example of this is Amazon.com which has successfuly combined “high tech with high touch”. They are constantly keeping an eye on what matters most and leading the way when it comes to the use of technology – including artificial intelligence – to enhance the customer experience. Successful companies such as Apple, know that technology is useful only if it creates a positive and effortless experience for the consumer.
Wired and Dangerous!
If the experience isn’t positive for the customer, we now have a customer that is “Wired and Dangerous”. i.e. can go on the internet and use online review sites, social media and other online channels to vent their frustration, which can be incredibly damaging to a brand. In some cases it can take months, if not years, for a brand to overcome a negative reputation, and in other cases the brand will never recover and will end up going out of business. However online reputation can work in a positive way too, as happy customers will let the world know if a company has gone beyond the call. As Chip Bell so aptly puts it “Word of mouse has replaced word of mouth”.
So in light of all this, what are the essential factors that businesses need to consider in order to stay successful?
- Gain insight into the customer’s journey by using Customer Journey Mapping
- Learn what matters to your customers
- Work internally and externally to provide an exceptional customer experience
- Stay attuned to the new technologies customers use, but combine high-tech with “high-touch”
- Master and carefully monitor all social media and online review channels for your business
- Intuit, adapt and grow as customers needs and expectations change
- Ready or not, artificial intelligence is going to be playing a big role in customer service, so get on board with it!
- And last but not least, think out of the box. Don’t limit your business to what you think it is or should be.