“Hello there, it’s Amy here. So how was your dress fitting?”
It was like music to my ears, as I sat amongst my team in Bristol. They deal with a complex insurance product, and customers need a lot of help to wade through the complexity of the policies to find the right product for them. Furthermore, it’s quite an investment to purchase this product, so it’s doubly important that the customer makes the right choice.
I remember the first time I had to call an insurance company. I’d skidded on black ice and caused serious damage to my car. I was shaken up, cold, tired and very stressed. As the phone was answered, I said, “Hi, I’ve just had a car accident.” It wasn’t until after the call that I reflected on the response to my comment. It wasn’t, “I’m really sorry to hear that, are you OK?” It wasn’t, “I hope no-one was hurt?” Instead, the person on the other end of the line said, “Can I take your policy number?”
Yes, that probably the correct procedural response – get to the detail, service the customer, and don’t make the interaction too long and drawn out. But somewhere long, long ago in the world of serving customers, we seem to have forgotten how to care. It’s as if the moment the headset goes on, we turn into automatons.
I think back to my first job, dealing with lost and stolen and Travellers’ Cheques. In the first few minutes of the conversation, we needed to assess where they were, if they were in danger, if they were making a fraudulent claim, and if they were able to provide details on the missing Travellers’ Cheques. Many customers were distressed, shaken up and highly emotional. Some of my colleagues who were a little long in the tooth used to laugh at some of the customers. “What an idiot this guys is!” “I can’t understand a word she is saying, she won’t stop crying because all her money has been stolen!”
I couldn’t laugh along – every call I took, every customer I spoke to could have been a friend, a family member, or just some poor innocent traveller who had been mugged. It seemed horrible to make fun of the customers, or to ignore their emotions. It set the tone for my whole career, because no matter how many people you have spoken to, no matter how challenging your day has been, every customer we interact with deserve to experience our BEST customer experience.
In customer & client facing roles, it is our responsibility to paper over cracks, to smooth over system and process issues, to help the customer glide over bumps in our customer journey so that they get the best outcome. And through all of it, customer emotions need to be heard, acknowledged and recognised. That personal element of an interaction is what marks us out as exceptional.
So when Amy asked, “How was your dress fitting?“, I felt really happy to know that my team listen to their customers, remember the important details and treat the customer with value. We can have lots of fantastic prompts, nudges and tools to make the customer experience seem personalised, but I’m afraid in some customer experiences, nothing comes close to a customer facing team member remembering that the person she is speaking to is not only purchasing a complex insurance product, but has just chosen her wedding dress!
Listen to your own people – do they pick up the signals and build relationships like Amy?