From The Editor | January 29, 2018

The Key To Customer Satisfaction: Meeting Customers Where They Are

Sarah Nicastro

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
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On page 6 we delve into an in-depth interview with Jamie Smith, the CIO of ServiceMaster, about the company’s quest to maximize the customer experience. The initial part of this process was what Smith calls “customer journey mapping.” As ServiceMaster conducted this mapping, it learned that the wishes and demands of customers are not uniform. To maximize customer satisfaction, Smith explains that you have to be willing and able to “meet your customers where they are.”

What does this mean exactly? Service organizations are under a lot of pressure to innovate. You invest in a customer portal to offer online appointment booking, but in reality some customers will always prefer to call in. If you resist innovation, you risk losing the business of those customers that want an alternative option to calling in to schedule service. The more customers (or prospective customers) you have, the greater the preferences will vary. Being able to meet them where they are means if a customer wants to call in with an issue, you need to make sure someone helpful answers. If another customer refuses to talk on the phone and wants to book an appointment online, you need to make sure they can do so.

Scheduling Service When a customer has a problem and needs your help, some will pick up the phone immediately to call, while others will automatically log on to your website first to look for online appointment booking. You may have others who look to see if your company has an app, or even look for an email address to use (depending on the severity of the issue). Are you making it easy for your customers to schedule service in the manner they prefer? This goes a step further than just offering these communication channels to ensuring they work seamlessly.

Ongoing Support
If a customer has a question or needs some information on your product or service, how easy is it for them to obtain that information? If they call in, does someone answer who is able to help them? If they visit your website, can they find product information, a support email, and maybe even support via chat easily? For support requests, some customers prefer social media. Are your customers able to contact you through social media?

Providing Feedback
Feedback is an area of communication that you will need to be more proactive about. Sending post-service communication in multiple methods (phone, email, app) can help you get the feedback you need. That said, customers are far more likely to proactively provide feedback when they have a negative experience — in those cases, you want to make sure they are readily able to voice their concerns, and follow up with them immediately to offer a resolution.

You need to make it your priority to know your customers well enough to determine what channels of communication are crucial for your company to offer. But it is safe to say that a multifaceted approach is necessary, and that providing options is key to achieving high levels of customer satisfaction in service.