Collaboration and communication are both essential to a good customer experience. It may sound obvious, but there are several areas in which a basic lack of either one often leads to a breakdown in customer service.
Internal communication is the basis for all effective customer interaction. If your team members do not understand what the company stands for, what the relevant policies are, what products and services are offered or what their individual roles within the company are, they will not be able to provide a positive customer experience. Do not assume that new hires will retain everything presented in an initial training session. Plan for ongoing roundtable discussions and have an open-door policy so that two-way communication becomes the norm.
Your company’s vision and mission should be printed up for everyone to see. You will also want to make sure that each team member understands these statements and clearly sees how he or she fits into the overall workings of the company. In addition to being displayed in print, your values should be reflected in your company culture and communicated to your customer base by means of your policies and daily operations.
Your company’s policies on various issues should be clearly written and accessible for your employees to review. However, more than simply publishing a policy list is required. To effectively communicate policy, you must help your team to understand the rules and how and when they are applied. Each team member should be able to clearly explain various policies to customers in an easy-to-understand manner.
Clear communication on the part of your brand should result in customer experiences that align with expectations. This is where accurately communicating your values, policies and standard procedures to your team directly pays off. For example, if you sell physical products and have a strict return policy, that policy should be clearly stated in sales materials. Your sales team should also understand how the prospect of future returns affects the sales process and should inform the customer about the policy ahead of time. If a customer enters into a transaction with full knowledge of whether or not the sale is refundable, he or she will not be taken by surprise if a future return is not accepted. Setting clear customer expectations is a major factor in customer satisfaction and retention, even if problems do arise with a product or service.
Collaboration involves communication but takes it one step further. To maintain a collaborative environment, all parties must work together toward a common goal. Now that you have laid the groundwork by creating an atmosphere of open communication, you can foster collaboration by asking for team members’ input on important decisions. You can also collaborate with customers when appropriate, such as when planning a new product or service or participating in a community event.
No organization can hope to optimize its customer experience without laying a foundation of open communication and collaboration. Doing so involves both internal and external relations and is an ongoing process, but all the hard work pays off in the long run.