Customer Service Vs Customer Experience (2019)

This article follows on from my previous article on customer service. When I was younger watching my parents grow their business, I saw how they perfected customer service and more than anything how important customer service is. I asked my father ‘why are you focusing so much on customer service’ he said ‘because it’s just a great way to run your business’. 

I sat there and thought about what he said and asked him ‘what do you mean because it’s just a great way to run your business?’ 

His answer I found to be quite profound and it impacted me for the rest of my life. 

He said ‘when you focus your business on customer service you get less complaints, customers are happier and you get less people wanting their money back, it makes sense to focus your business on this area’. 

Ever since then I have seen the power of service. However this is all about customer experience management, and managing your customers experience so how does all this tie together? 

Very simple… You use customer service to deliver the experience.

When you become a customer experience specialist, you look at every touching point with your customer and think of ways to create a positive experience for them. Let me give you some customer experience examples. A ‘touching point’ is a point in which you have contact with a customer, phone call, email, face to face, come to the office, meet in a restaurant or meet at an event etc.

What you need to think about is how can you create an experience for them and a positive one too that makes them think about you when they leave.

Every business you go to you receive an experience if you go to a restaurant you have set levels of expectation. You expect the food to be good, the restaurant to be clean and the waiter to be polite and responsive. Now when any of these areas do not meet your ‘set level of expectations’, you have a bad experience. The problem is almost no business puts thought into creating experiences and if they do, you get a bad experience and then they do nothing to make it right. 

Business owners very rarely look at how to improve customer experience and create a good customer experience, or as I like to say… outstanding customer experience!

Your customer experience strategy is the difference between your customer coming back to you or heading to someone else, them talking about you to everyone they know, or them not saying a word about you. The problem is that very very few businesses have customer experience training because most of them don’t have a clearly defined customer experience definition.

When my parents had our business we were masters of customer experience. Let me give you some ideas to improve customer experience so you can create a quality customer experience strategy. The importance of customer experience is the difference between creating a recession-proof business or a business that struggles.

Ideas to improve customer experience

My family owned a very large vacation resort. One day we had a client that was using the laundry facilities, as her clothes were being washed the washing machine broke right in the middle of the cycle. The lady walked into the office very upset ‘I’m in the middle of washing my clothes and the machine has broken, my clothes are locked inside and soaking wet’. 

We didn’t own the washing machines, a company placed them into our business and we split the money, so it wasn’t our responsibility and most businesses would wipe their hands clean of the situation here. However, they were our customer so therefore it was our responsibility and we needed to look after them. Here is what we did. 

We had our maintenance team remove the clothes from the machine, and then we took the clothes to the dry cleaners. Once the clothes were ready to be picked up, we placed them neatly folded inside her home on the kitchen table (we had to keep keys to every home for security reasons) with a bottle of wine, a bouquet of flowers a box of chocolates and a card. 

Our customer was over the moon that we did this for her. Here is the funny thing… what did that really cost us? Let’s say £20 for the dry cleaning, £10 for flowers, £10 for wine and £5 of chocolates and about £3 for a card. So we spent about £48 to make this customer happy, which if you look at it is nothing compared to the fact that she bought a vacation home off us for £85,000

Here is the really great thing when you improve customer experience strategy. Our customer told so many people what we did, it was all over our resort and everyone was talking about it, it cost us £48 to have all of our customers talking about us. So these are some great ideas to improve customer experience. 

Here is another example, and our families biggest story. 

In 1997 we had a colossal storm hit us. Now let me give you a bit of back story so you understand. In the UK vacation resorts are usually open 10.5 months of the year and they have to close down for a six week period. Our business like many other resorts opened up on 1st March every year. So the 1st of March is our busiest day of the year, everyone wants to come back to their home after the six-week break. However, this year about 8pm we were hit with a tremendous storm and our resort was FULL! 

The storm was SO bad we lost many homes, thankfully no lives but our resort looked like a bomb had gone off and the resort was destroyed. As I drove into the resort as everything was going on, I couldn’t get over the number of police cars, ambulances and fire engines. The place looked like a war zone.

So here is what we did. We rounded every customer up into the main building in our cars, and then we contacted all the hotels in our area, bus companies and taxi companies. We moved every single customer to a hotel for safety, this may sound easy but we had over 600 people standing there needing a safe place for the night. We contacted all the hotels that our customers were going to stay at and told the hotel that our customers have an open bar tonight. Now you may think ‘damn that's going to coast a fortune’ and it did, however, our insurance covered everything.

A few hours later all customers were in hotels and already a few drinks deep. For us, the work had just begun. We had to shut the resort down for three weeks to clean up when I say this place was a disaster I mean it was a disaster, vacation home roofs everywhere, glass everywhere, homes that had exploded because the wind got inside and blew them up etc. The resort was a total and utter disaster. 

Ok, that story is over. However here is what I want you to understand. Every single customer that we helped that night was so blown away (excuse the pun) with what we did for them, our city was amazed what we did that we literally became the talk of the town for months. We were the resort that went so far above and beyond for our customers that everyone even inside our industry was talking about us. We made the front page of the paper, we got more attention from people and news outlets that we sold even more homes. It was unbelievable! And all because we did the ‘right thing’ in the beginning.

We were able to turn a disaster into one of our singles biggest marketing plays we’ve ever had, and we didn’t even realize it. 

When you as a business come from a place internally of actually caring about your customer and you really show this by creating outstanding customer experiences for them, you can’t help but succeed. 

Now I hand this over to you, what have you learnt from reading this? What are you going to do in your business? What touch points with your customer can you create experiences?

I so often hear, what is customer experience and what is the importance of customer experience. My stories above are great examples of how you can blow your customers out of the water by doing what no other business thinks about doing. You should have someone in your business that is highly creative and give them this role to create experiences in all the different touching points you have with your customer. You can also create in-house customer experience certification and create customer experience jobs for your team.

I’ll leave you with one last thing before signing off, and this is powerful!!

Really good customer experience is created in that moment. What we used to do for all of our staff was give them a limit to spend on a customer should something ever go wrong. Here’s what I mean. 

We told every member of staff that you have £100 that you can spend without ever asking us for permission to put a customers situation right. So anytime a customer had a problem we made our staff think for themselves, and if they saw a way to fix the problem and they’re managing the communication correctly with the customer they can rectify that problem up to £100 to make sure the customer was happy. 

I have actually never come across a business that does the same. In fact, I often hear the ‘manager ruins customer experience because she doesn't like me and I can't get anything done’. When this happens it is time to replace the manager, you must all work in harmony together to achieve the same common goal.

In this article, I have given you, ideas to improve customer experience, how to improve customer experience and shown you exactly what makes a great customer experience. 

Please share my article around, like it and comment on it I need your support to help others. 

Feel free to connect with me at my website www.ianhoughton.com

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​Why Is Customer Service So Important?
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Customer service is the single biggest impact you can make in your business, and the best part is it’s absolutely free to implement!

Let me say that again... it’s Free!!

When I was a little boy I had the great opportunity to travel around the world with my parents to experience world-class customer service from the best of the best. My parents did this for one specific reason, they knew the huge value and importance that outstanding customer service has in a business.

What’s interesting to understand is this. Customer service has always been the most powerful part of any businesses success. So many businesses constantly look for new ways to bring in new customers. Yet have you noticed when they get a new customer how bad they look after the customer?

So they end up wasting all of this money to bring in new customers only to not look after them when they do come in. How does any of this make sense? Yet you see it in almost every business.

Let me ask you a question, have you ever bought a product or service from a business or person that you didn’t necessarily want or need yet, you were treated so great that you felt compelled to have to buy it?

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If you’re anything like me and most people the answer is yes. In this plain and simple example but you can see the huge power of customer service, yet today hardly any businesses focus on this old and powerful business value. This is something written about over a hundred years ago.

The psychology behind customer service is simple. When you stop treating a customer like any ‘normal’ customer, and instead treat them like you would treat a best friend not only will you make the customer happy, not only will you increase the initial transactional value, but you will make that person want to come back and buy from you again and again and again.

Now look at that, you have built value with that individual who wants to keep coming to buy more and more from you. Rather than not looking after them correctly in the beginning, and expecting that they’re going to come back to you.

Why would anyone go back to anybody else when they have not been treated correctly? It makes total sense. I know if you look back to any instances that this may have happened to you, you will find this to be true. This is how to build the lifetime value of a customer.

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Tip

True business success comes from repeat business from repeat customers.

So working on all areas of customer service within your business is not only going to bring you in repeat business from existing customers, but it’s also going to increase the level of morale inside of your business. Why? Because now everyone is happy, customer, business owner, staff etc.

Both customers and staff can see and feel the morale inside of the business. You must all come together understand the businesses vision and move forward making the correct decisions based off what is correct for that business.

Here’s how you do it.

Come up with a plan on how you want your business to run when it comes to your customer service policy. What parts of your business are touched by the customer? Should there be outstanding service in all these areas? What would this look like? Write each area of your business out and then fill in how the service should be carried out.

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Once you’ve written it out then you must implement it.

To do this you must bring everyone together and retrain them in the ‘new’ way of doing things. Train them train them and train them! Then watch them, how do they perform? If it’s not quite right, instead of telling them off for getting it wrong, you pull them back in a train them again.

It’s your duty as the business owner to make sure your staff run your business the way you want it to be run. If your staff are just not good enough then that comes down to you again. If they won’t train then it’s time to replace them. What it’s not time for is to ignore the bad service and bad staff as this will literally tear your business apart. I’ve seen it happen way too often.

For you to make a real success of your business you absolutely must adopt a customer service strategy. If you don’t have one and you need help then reach out to me and let’s JFDI!

The next article will be on customer experience. It works absolutely hand in hand with service and once again it’s free to implement.

All these years later and it’s as important today as it was years before I was born!

For over four decades in some shape or form I have been involved in business.

What I find amazing is this, the information I was told as a kid, the information I was told as a teenager is the exact same information that is relevant today. In fact even more relevant.

All I see business owners do now is, worry about social media, website, new customers, staff, product etc. They spend tens of thousands of dollars trying to bring people in. Yet when the customer walks through the door, the business continues to make the same mistake over and over again.

What am I talking about?

Customer service and customer experience.

Everywhere you go, every business you deal with you are forced to deal with service and experience.

Businesses spend all this money to bring you in yet when you get there they give you mediocre service and mediocre experience. I often find myself scratching my head still after all these years.

As a kid I was told just how important it was. My parents traveled the world, and we stayed in the best hotels. My parents were not rich but they knew the importance of staying in the best places and learning from the best practices. They brought in the best consultants to grow the business. All because they knew how important service and experience was to the success of a business.

I like to keep things clear.

If you are not focused on making sure you provide your customer with the best possible service and you are not creating an incredible experience of doing business with you, then you are absolutely leaving money on the table.

This is hands down the easiest and most cost effective way to grow your business. This is all about the ‘lifetime value’ of a customer and not just the initial sale.

For your business to live deep into the future, and survive the inevitable ‘tough times’ that go along with business. It is more important than ever to make sure you focus on these two highly important areas.

You must look at what experience your customer currently gets, and put thought into what experience you really want them to have. I’ll guarantee that what you think they are currently getting, they’re absolutely not getting.

Often the business owner is disconnected to the customers buying process and continual dealings with that business. Therefore it’s almost impossible to really know what your customer goes through when they want to deal with your business.

Put time and thought into it. Create a plan, implement it and then gauge the customers response. If it’s not quite what you want, keep tweaking it until you hit exactly what you want.

If you need guidance and help with this let me know!

Staffing Issues
Staff driving you crazy?!

The amount of times that I run into this is crazy. Often when coaching businesses the owner comes to me asking me to ‘fix the staff’. The problem is this, usually it is not the staffs problem. The owner has done very little work in training them correctly in the beginning. It is your duty as the business owner to not only make sure that your staff are trained correctly, but to make sure that you staff are trained to the top level. 

Top business coaching firms will make sure that the staff are trained the entire way through the process making sure that they have all product knowledge. 

If you look at most staff in businesses, they are under motivated and under-trained. Ask them as many questions as you like and they probably will not have all the answers that you are lookin for.

This makes the member of staff feel inadequate, and it is up to you the owner of the business to make sure that they have all product knowledge to be able to carry their duties out correctly. If they do not then you must get them to where they need to be. You cannot turn around and blame your staff for you not providing them with the training they need.

When dealing with a business coaching firm check their abilities to make sure they know how to train the staff correctly. A business coach with quality experience will be able to spot this mistake immediately, know how to fix it and make sure that the member of staff is now confident in that role and with the knowledge.

The truth of the matter is that I could write an entire book just on staffing issues but it is up to you to consciously look at your staff and make their job as simple as productive as possible.

Top business coaching companies create business coaching systems that are effective and produce immediate results. The best business coach will create coaching workshops for the business and the staff making sure their product knowledge is in tip top form. How will you know if this works… test the staff. If they pass the test they’re trained, if they fail, then retrain them until they ‘get it’.

Being a Miami business consulting company and a Miami business coach I see this in almost every business I walk into. Do not become one of those businesses, take action now ‘JFDI’ and make those changes in your business today.

Being a small business consultant I recognize these patterns in business everywhere I go, the fix is simple. The action on behalf of the business owner is very few and far between.

If you need help with this reach out now and take action to get your business under control now. JFDI!

The Meaning of JFDI, and the profound impact it can have on 'your' life!
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This is something that is very close to my heart, in fact I live my life by it. What is JFDI, what does it mean and what is the point of it. 

Having spent a lot of my life coaching others to become more successful in their life, I know just what it takes to make that happen and more to the point what stops people from making that happen. 

JFDI is ALL about taking action. Most people out there talk and talk and talk but never actually end up doing anything with their life. I have had so many people come to in my life and say, ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book’ or ‘I’ve always wanted to get life coach for personal development’ or ‘I’ve always wanted to have a small business consultant’ and yet they never take action upon it. 

JFDI stands for Just F***ing Do It!

Enough of the talking, its time to take action. My question to you is this… how long does it have to be before you do something about it? How bad does it have to be or get before you say ‘enough is enough’. People waste SO much time in life and not achieve the things they set out to achieve. Then all of a sudden they become totally unfulfilled in life, and with that become unhappy. 

They may have ALL the money they need, they may have the man or woman of their dreams, they may have all the positions they have ever wanted… yet they can be totally and utterly unfulfilled. 

A top business coach, a top lifestyle coach and a top life coach knows exactly what to do to take you from where you are to where you want to be. However… it is on you to take that action to make that happen.

There are so many business coaching programs out there, there are many life business coaching services, BUT finding the right one is the most important thing. Then once you find it, or find the person you gel with the most, it is on YOU to JFDI!

The benefit of online life coaching and online business coaching means that you can take action now! You do not have to drive anywhere, you do not have to wait you can JFDI NOW!

Listen you and only you know how important your life and your business are to you, and I’m guessing that if you’re reading this now then it’s pretty important.

My question to you is, how long are you going to wait, how bad does it have to be before you take action or JFDI and turn those areas of your life around?

Change happens in the click of a finger, its a mental choice, that’s all it is, nothing more.

We now live in a world where online coaching, where online consulting can take place immediately. Finding the correct coach for you is imperative, taking action upon that is even more important.

Life is precious, life is short JFDI and reach out and turn things around NOW… JFDI! 

You’ll kick yourself for not JFDI earlier.

What my TV interview about it here

Personal Development is Everything!
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There is no way we can strive for what we want in life if we do not have a mentor, coach, trainer or whatever you want to call it in your life.  A business coach or life coach is there or make your journey less bumpy. A good life-business coach has already been through life's struggles and has found the correct way of doing things. They are able to spot your patterns and show you the easy way of getting things done, or what I like to call JFDI Just F***ing Do It!

Online is the word
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In order to know how to improve customer service, you can go over the web and get valuable information. Ian Houghton’s The JFDI Way To Increasing Profits Through Outstanding Customer Service is a very useful book that lets you know the various ways through which you can enhance your customer support system.

Ian Houghton