- They can print the boarding pass on their home or office printer.
- They can have the boarding pass sent to their smart phone.
People say we remember two things in every presentation; we remember the first thing that's said, and the last thing the presenter says.
The same can be said for a customer experience; we remember the first touch point, and we remember the last touch point. That's not to say that we don't remember anything in between; it's just that we always remember the first and the last. And in some cases, we really remember the last.
This was the case for me when I called the Doubletree Hotel at the Newark Airport for a shuttle ride. The fact that I was tired didn't help anyone's performance.
The phone call from the airport to the front desk to too long to answer.
The instructions where to go to meet the shuttle were too confusing.
The journey from my terminal to meet the shuttle bus was too long.
The shuttle bus took too long to arrive.
The shuttle was too crowded.
The line to check in at the hotel was too long.
When it was finally my turn, the front desk clerk was amazing. Personable, informative, charming, witty and genuinely helpful. His performance caused all the negative stuff before him to seem trivial.
I'll gladly stay at the Doubletree at the Newark Airport again.
Last impressions matter - a lot.
Two key traits of any customer-facing employee are the ability to anticipate needs, and the desire to help. And there's one demographic group that surely has both: retired professionals who aren't quite ready to settle down.
During a recent flight from the airport in Portland, Maine, I stopped to check the board that lists the arriving and departing flights. A gentleman in a purple vest surprised me, by asking if I needed any help. That was Henry, one of 7 "Ambassador" volunteers at the airport. The role of the Ambassadors is to make it easy for travelers to navigate their way through the airport, and arrive at their gates, stress-free.
One of the great things about vacationing is that you're exposed to a lot of customer experiences that you don't enjoy during your normal daily routine. You go to new places, buy new products and services, and see the world from unique perspectives.
Customer Service Representatives (CSR's) are often among the lowest paid employees in most organizations. Yet they're among the highest influencers of the customer experience. Let's look at the logic - or the lack thereof:
Employees who interact with customers all day long are in a position to influence the customer experience in a positive or negative way. Because they're in this highly-sensitive tactical position, it would be wise select employees for this job who are inherently capable of delighting the customer with better discretion.
But most companies hesitate - and rightfully so - to grant such latitude to such low-paid workers. After all, their pay is low, because they lack the aptitude and experience to warrant higher pay (and greater latitude in decision-making with respect to customers). There are five big reasons why the Customer Service Representative should be a higher-paying position.
1: A higher wage will attract higher-quality candidates.
If companies offer a higher wage for CSR's, they'll attract more experienced candidates for the position. Candidates with a higher level of experience will have more likely learned and acted upon what it takes to delight the customer, and to do so judiciously, with the mutual interests of the customer and the company. They'll be more capable of making the right decisions in those moments of truth, where the experience could go either north or south, depending on the actions of the CSR. This type candidate can warrant the trust to please the customer without giving away ranch, as is often the fear of call center managers. This brings us to the second reason...
2: Higher-quality CSR's can deliver a better customer experience.
CSR's who can be trusted with the latitude to make the best decisions in the moments of truth are better positioned and more capable of delivering a superior customer experience. When a first-line representative at a bank is allowed to waive an overdraft fee without putting the customer on hold to seek approval, the customer immediately has a better impression of the bank, and will feel their loyalty to the bank grow stronger. And this brings us to the third reason...
3: Higher-quality CSR's increase customer loyalty.
A consistently higher quality experience drives greater customer loyalty. When a customer is delighted with the service provided every time she comes in contact with the company (often through a CSR), the customer will actually look forward to engaging with the company. This is the heart and soul of customer loyalty. And loyal customers often don't keep it a secret - they recruit more customers, bringing us to the fourth reason...
4: Higher-quality CSR's are catalysts for increasing market share.
When a customer has a great experience, they tend to talk about it. This positive talk from a customer is more credible, and more powerful than the most expensive marketing campaign. Strong positive word-of-mouth attracts more new customers, and does so at a relatively low cost. And that brings us to the fifth reason...
5: Higher-quality CSR's generate higher profits.
One of the highest expense categories for a company is Sales & Marketing. But when a current customer "sells" a friend or family member on becoming a customer, the company gains the customer and the additional revenue, without the expense of sales and marketing. As a result, word-of-mouth customers are higher profit customers.
When a company invests more in their customer service team, they're more apt to generate a better customer experience. And a better customer experience increases the loyalty of existing customers. Loyal customers recruit new customers through positive word-of-mouth at a lower cost of sales and marketing, which increases profits for the company. This virtuous cycle begins when an organization makes the decision to recruit higher quality, more experienced CSR's, by offering a higher wage.
The entire customer experience was going well.
My wife and I were greeted immediately upon entering the showroom, and offered help in a non-intrusive, low-key manner. The salesman was not at all pushy; in fact, we found him to be quite helpful. When we settled on a vehicle, and agreed on a price, we were introduced to the finance manager, who promptly completed all the paper work with us.
When our new car was brought to us, the salesman demonstrated all the controls, gauges, levers and buttons, showed us where each of the 32 cup-holders were located and even offered to connect our phones to the blue-tooth stereo. We were happy customers.