Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Job well done: task and essence

When it comes to customer experience it is all down to attitude. Job tasks (place an order – clean a shelf) vs. job essence (understand and accommodate customer’s needs)

Most companies introduce and teach newcomers the tasks of the job, the procedures and work-instructions, but the essence of the job is left to be understood “between the lines”, Customer Service suffers when this is the case and in the long run so will your sales.
Ex I needed a white shirt (you know the classic one to use under a suit), went to a GAP shop could only find t-shirts so I asked the lady stacking the T-shirts “where do I find a white shirt?” with a great smile she pointed to the back of the shop and said “you see to the right of the jeans on the back wall there are all the shirts we have”. Had she done her task of stacking the t- shirts and helping customers who asked? Absolutely I knew exactly where to go. But had she performed the essence of the job she would have walked me over there questioned what kind of shirt I was after  and helped me finding the right style and size.

To ensure employees also understand the essence of their job it is key they are told about it, if I tell you your tasks are to stack shelves and help customers finding their way in the store, but not what I really mean by “helping the customers find their way” I am not clear on what their job is really about. In the above example when I arrived at the back wall I saw loads of shirts but no white ones, and could frankly not be bothered to ask again so I left the shop without purchasing anything.

I do not think this is neither complicated nor a new visionary way of thinking, but why is it then, that so many of us are measured and appraised on the tasks we perform instead of whether we perform the essence of the job? Granted it is easy to appraise on tasks – they are easy measured, and you can quickly tic boxes – but to appraise on performing the essence of the job, takes much more time and energy as a leader you have to really observe and explain, suggest and observe some more.
But I promise you it is worth the investment of time and energy, you will have happier employees (they know what is expected of them task and essence) and you will have happier customers (their needs are being more than met) and your bottom line will enjoy it too.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Customer Reviews the next step in customer service and communication.

If you have been following this blog or “Blondies private” you know I do lot of my shopping on-line. And I love it. There are brands that are difficult to get in Belgium; I am not limited by opening hours or running the risk that my choice of color or size is not available in the shop.
If you know the product you are shopping for it is fairly easy to do online, but what if you do not know the product. Example: I need a dress and I would look at Net –a porter or Boden or even M&S. If I like what I see in the photo and if the price I right J I will look at the reviews. These reviews are my “best friend” as long as I can trust them.  My bar for whether I can trust the reviews or not, are bad reviews – if I can find reviews on the site that are bad or at least less good then I think I can trust the reviews.
These reviews does drive my buying behavior, if something I like gets bad reviews I am much less likely to purchase and on the other hand if the reviews are good the possibility of me buying is significantly greater. Going back to my need for a dress, I found a dress online from a brand I know and it looked like it fitted the bill perfectly, however the reviews were so bad that I decided against buying it.
As a company of course you take a risk, opening up for reviews like that, but not doing it creates an even greater risk , some potential buyers might not buy because they are not sure of the fit, quality etc., or even worse they  essential do not trust you. Zappo increased their sales by “cleaning” the reviews ( and I am absolutely all for that as long as the cleaning you do consist of correcting spelling, grammar or similar mistakes, the gist of the review needs to remain.
And the communication gets better, what we see more and more is the company replying to customer’s reviews. Obviously they do not need to reply to each individual review and it is mostly necessary when the reviews are less good.
Going back to my dress, the reviews were bad – almost across the board and what Boden did was to answer these reviews with an acknowledgement; stating that the company is sorry that the dress is not up to their usual standard and for the winter collection they will redesign the problem areas. Do I buy the dress, no of course I do not buy the dress just because Boden acknowledge that it is bad, but it makes me feel better about the company and I would not hesitate to buy from them again (provided of course the reviews are goodJ) because I do not fear their quality has gone completely to the dogs.
This is a classic example of taking customer service to the next level keeping the communication open and the great benefit of influencing the conversations about your brand.