Empowering Workers to Exceed Customer Expectations
During the holiday season my wife was booking a hotel via their central reservations line. They committed to a price, yet when we received the automated email confirmation the price was incorrect. My wife called the central reservations line again and was told everything was fine, just ignore the email. Of course, when we turned up at the hotel, the wrong price was on our bill!
This was all very frustrating as more time was wasted with front desk personnel and ultimately 'the manager'. You can imagine how this impacts future business and their brand, as negative “word of mouth” (digital comments via social media) makes it easy to broadcast this experience.
I am sure we all have our own customer service stories to tell. The hard reality of this service gap is born out in a recent thought leadership paper commissioned by Ricoh and done by Forrester Consulting.
Based on in-depth surveys with over 280 customer service decision-makers and individual contributors in global organizations, 89% of customer facing workers say that there’s a gap between the experience they can deliver and the experience the customer wants.1
In my opinion, this number is a loud and clear wake-up call to the enterprise that wishes to differentiate itself and remain competitive in today’s wired, global marketplace. According to a survey done by the Economist Intelligence Unit, global CEOs seem to recognize the value of giving customers a personalized, intimate experience:
However, most customer service organizations are challenged in providing this type of customer experience. The Forrester Consulting thought leadership paper said three things continue to get in the way of achieving that goal:
- Poor information access;
- Inefficient processes and support;
- Outdated technology.
What could the hotel have done better?
More up to date systems integration would have prevented the gap in the technology between the price quoted through central reservations and what was communicated to the customer (my wife) via email. And note the problem was compounded when not corrected after a second communication…”just ignore the email”.
The front-desk staff should have accurate customer information fast, e.g. the correct price. The process for finding the correct information was broken. Imagine how much staff and managerial time would have been saved if the process was optimized and the front-desk had immediate access to the entire, original customer communication.
In today’s mobile information environment where the customer can easily choose another hotel, you likely have only one chance to differentiate your service.
Rather than feeling like we were not being heard, we could have been given a positive, personalized check-in experience by an informed and empowered service provider. This is the type of service that would cause us to choose this hotel the next time we travel, and spread the good word.
1 Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper commissioned by Ricoh “The New Workplace Reality: Enterprises Must Capture the Soul and Spirit of the Emerging Worker”, December 2013.