You’ve probably heard phrases like ‘the customer journey’ or ‘customer touch points’ bandied about on LinkedIn by plenty of business experts. Buzzwords are annoying and quite often provoke extreme face pulling by those of us who loathe this kind of lingo. However, don’t let an aversion to jargon stop you from investigating the valuable thinking behind it because when it comes to how your customers experience your business, it’s crucial to get those first impressions right. Today, we’re going to explore how your staff on the front line can make or break a relationship with the people you do business with – and how to make sure they get it right.
What happens when you get it wrong?
First, let’s look at a company who got it wrong and paid a hefty price. Toys “R” Us recently went bust, and many pointed to their lack of online presence as the catalyst. However, if the customer experience at their stores had been pitch perfect, this could have been a very different story. The truth is that Toys “R” Us was heaven on earth for kids, but a living nightmare for parents. The stores were messy, packed to the rafters with toot and the sales staff were hard to find and often uninterested in helping. It wasn’t enough that kids love toys because if you can’t get their parents to drive to your shops and unburden themselves of cash, sales slide. Contrast that Toys “R” Us experience to that of Hamley’s – for instance – with their enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff and the point is crystal clear.
How to get it right
There are two essential questions to consider here:
- Are you investing in your frontline staff?
- Are you recruiting the right people for the right jobs?
While many businesses have a lengthy and intensive interview process for senior positions, the same isn’t always true of their more junior hires. However, the lowest paid person in your organisation could be the one who has a significant interaction with your customers. Take a receptionist, for example. That role requires you to greet and look after people walking into the office – and if it’s done poorly, it will reflect poorly on your company. So, what thought have you put into their training or the customer journey at this first, crucial step?
As advocates for working to your employee’s strengths, we advise our clients to think carefully about who takes each role in the company. Some people are naturally wonderful communicators, gifted with making others feel at ease and empathetic to their needs. They are wonderful in reception positions, or as salespeople working in shops, or in customer service as they can quickly engage and want to help. There’s no reason why somebody who doesn’t naturally possess those talents can’t learn them, but it would be madness to send them out there with no training and expect them to perform well.
Get started early
At the early stage of each individual’s employment, you need to establish what their strengths are and how you can build up those skills they don’t already have. Too many junior roles are handed to staff ill-equipped to do them, just because somebody is trying to fill up a rota. The consequences of a bad client, customer or consumer experiences could severely damage your brand and cost you money.
Our advice is to take some time to consider the first impressions your visitors get at reception, or on the shop floor, or any other first point of contact and work out where you can improve it. Aside from aesthetic improvements, consider how you can train your staff to deliver excellent customer service by identifying blind spots or areas that require more attention. By establishing great first impressions and building a winning customer experience, you will find the people you do business with will come back for more. It’ll certainly make you stand out from your competition, just ask Hamley’s.
If you’d like to find out more about our recruitment coaching and how we could help your organisation, please ring 01603 567794 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.