5 ways to cultivate customer delight.

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Create customer happiness

If you consider “fine” a four-letter word, and “good enough” just doesn’t cut it for your business, today’s post is for you. We’re exploring two middle levels of the Ruby Service Pyramid, Foster Happiness and Create Experiences, and covering simple ways to turn satisfied customers into raving fans.

In recent posts, we tackled the foundational levels of the Ruby Service Pyramid, Be Prepared With the Right Infrastructure and Do What We Say We’ll Do. Putting these tenets into action means creating systems to effectively deliver on your service promise, and growing a customer base that trusts you to reliably do just that. Not a bad place to be! In fact, you could likely build a successful business on that foundation alone.

But to cultivate loyal customers, it’s important to do more than merely deliver a service: you need to build a service relationship. Luckily, getting there isn’t as difficult as it may seem—and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Here are five ways to get started: 

1. Choose your words wisely

Positive phrasing is a cornerstone of the service we deliver at Ruby® Receptionists, and a favorite blog topic. We’ve learned firsthand small conversational tweaks go a long way in fostering customer happiness, and we have a lot to say on the topic of word choice—but for the sake of brevity, today we’ll focus on three little words we recommend cutting from your customer vocabulary: “I don’t know.”  When you don’t have an answer or solution on the tip of your tongue, use it as an opportunity to showcase your dedication. Where “I don’t know” is a dead end, “I’ll be happy to find out!” inspires confidence, and buys you the time you need to get to the bottom of things. ” (Pro tip: if you’re looking for more phrasing advice, type “phrasing” into the search field on your right. There are plenty of Watercooler articles to explore!) 

2. Show gratitude

What better way to let customers know you appreciate their business than to say “thank you”?  Authenticity is key here—we’ve all likely experienced a deadpan “thank you for calling” that felt more like a “thanks for interrupting my day.” Whether it’s in the form of a card, email, or conversation, sharing a “thank you” when you feel it (and meaning it when you say it) is a simple way to enhance your customer relationships.

3. Make it personal

As you get to know your customers, use that knowledge as fuel for creating meaningful experiences. A casual conversation about a customer’s hobbies might prompt you to send a small surprise gift, for example. A handwritten notecard is a wonderful way to follow up with a customer after a positive interaction, especially if you have a personal tidbit to build on:

Thank you for calling today—it was great to talk with you! Congratulations again on your son’s graduation from college. What a fantastic accomplishment! If there’s anything I can do in the future, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Simply referencing past conversations is a solid way to build a customer relationship. Asking “How was your vacation?” indicates more than mere curiosity to a customer—it shows you’re paying attention and it shows you care, and that means a lot.

4. Seek the unique

Take a look at the interactions you typically have with customers and explore ways to make them special. The Ruby Spelling Alphabet® is one example: after years of verifying spelling the standard way, an innovative receptionist proposed the idea of crafting a custom alphabet designed to brighten the days of our callers. Today, the alphabet consistently inspires compliments from our callers, turning everyday conversations into memorable moments.

5. Create systems

If you make the time to get creative, you’ll find ample ways impress and connect with your customers. Once you do, put systems in place to ensure your favorite connection-builders become a standard part of your business. Delighting customers once in a while is great, but delighting them consistently will truly set your business apart.

While delivering on your service promises is a key to building a meaningful relationship with your customers, it’s just one part of the process. Every touchpoint, big or small, shapes a customer’s view of your business. By consistently using those touchpoints as opportunities to make customers feel special, surprise them, and show appreciation, you prove your company can not only make their lives a little easier, but make them a little happier, a little better—just like a good friend does. That’s how lifelong customer connections are formed.

Click here for the next post in our Ruby Service Pyramid® series.

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WOW customer service

Like most businesses, Ruby receives a huge flow of incoming emails each day. To help us manage our general inbox, we have a dedicated group to sort through each and every email—our Happiness Concierge team. With so many emails coming through, the team stumbles across a few tidbits that aren’t quite business as usual from time to time. Such was the case with an assist request sent in by Ruby customer, Hunter Lowder.

Assists are outbound calls our Rubys make on behalf of our customers. Need to confirm or cancel an appointment with a client? Want to add a bit of extra care by proactively offering driving directions to seminar participants? Our assist service is the perfect solution!

As a frequent user of Ruby’s assist service, Hunter’s request itself was nothing out of the ordinary—that was until the team noticed Hunter’s new email signature: Hunter Lowder, Queen of Everything. This opportunity to WOW could not be missed!

Picture1

The entire Happiness Concierge team cooked up a plan to have a custom desk nameplate made for Hunter, showcasing her new title. Once it arrived, they also hopped in the Ruby photo booth and snapped a quick pic. The gift, the photo, and a card personally signed by the whole team flew off to Hunter post haste.

The response? Priceless. Hunter loved the gift! And it came at just the right time, in the middle of a hectic couple of months. She even shared the story with her company’s 3,275 Facebook followers on their business page!

“WOW! It’s official. Thank you so much to the wonderful people at Ruby Receptionists for this plaque! After a stressful 5 months (yes, I’m counting) it literally brought a tear to my eye that the fabulous people who help me so much by fielding our millions of phone calls (slight exaggeration) sent me a thank you. It’s really the little things that businesses can do for their clients, people who refer them, etc. that make a huge difference in loyalty. I will be with this company forever (since it doesn’t look like we’re ever going to get it together enough to answer our own calls)! Thank you all for the lovely present.”

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In any role where you communicate with others, emotional intelligence is the name of the game. When everybody has a cell phone, and we can interact with people at any time of the day, it’s harder than ever to stand out from the crowd and make an impression where it counts. This is particularly the case over the phone. Emotional intelligence allows you to take what could be a generic, forgettable conversation and turns it into something memorable and compelling.

Emotional intelligence is defined by the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions; and it’s the key to standing out.

Why?

Because emotions are contagious. How you interact with others—whether they’re a client, a customer, or co-worker—determines how that person will feel about you, and the company you represent.

When you yawn, I yawn, and when you’re enthusiastic, I’m enthusiastic! It’s shown that, in conversations, we often mirror each other’s tones and postures. In a situation where you can’t see someone’s posture, your tone becomes even more influential. Your emotions bleed into a conversation and set the tone, and it’s up to you to decide what that tone is. In Daniel Golman’s book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ, he lists five categories of emotional intelligence that can impact the success of any interaction.

Self-Awareness

When you’re working in customer service, self-awareness is critical. This skill translates into an awareness of how your actions (i.e. speech patterns, word choice, tone, etc.) impact those around you.

If your tone and word choice are courteous, customers are much more likely to accept a gentle “no.” This awareness gives you the power to defuse what could be a tough conversation into something more productive and pleasant.

Self-Regulation

Those skilled in self-regulation can listen to a complaint and react without lashing out or making a  rushed, emotional decision. Self-regulation allows you to stay calm, hold yourself accountable, and adapt to new situations.

When a caller is being indignant or rude, remember there could be a dozen reasons for their behavior. Perhaps their car broke down, or they have a sick family member in the hospital. A phone conversation can take on many different paths, but in the end, every caller just wants to be heard and understood. As a receptionist, or in any customer-oriented role, listening is your primary job.

Motivation

Motivation requires clear goals, a positive attitude, and high standards for quality. This category of emotional intelligence requires:

  • You know why you’re doing your job (e.g. having the conversation, solving the problem, etc.)
  • You’re committed to doing that job
  • You’re willing to take the initiative

It’s your responsibility to turn “what do you need” into “how can I help you.” Excellence in customer service requires a dedication to providing the customers with what they need.

Empathy

The ability to empathize with how other people think or feel is one of the most recognized requirements for delivering excellent customer experiences. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It requires being service-oriented, the ability to put yourself in someone else’s position and the capacity to genuinely respond to feelings.

Empathy facilitates trust, and it’s one of the surest paths to connecting with customers. Phrases like “I can see how this would be frustrating, let me see how I can helpcan turn a conversation around. You want to tell your callers “I sympathize with your plight. I understand your frustrations. I want to help.”

People Skills

Social skills, or people skills, is a broad term that essentially boils down to your ability to take that self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and empathy, and use it to drive your interactions with other. People skills include your ability to communicate clearly, resolve conflicts, build bonds, and collaborate.

When you use the above skills, you’re more easily able to WOW even the most demanding customers. The good new is, emotional intelligence can be practiced and improved!

Next time you’re on the phone:

  • Observe your own reactions—How do you respond to people? Do you rush to conclusions? Are you really listening?
  • Try to imagine yourself in their place—How would you feel? Can you sympathize?
  • Examine how your action effect the people around you—Do they leave the conversation feeling better about the situation?

Regular self-reflection will help you to boost your emotional intelligence, increase your confidence, and improve the impression that you leave on others!

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What separates your business from the competition? What’s your differentiator? At Ruby® Receptionists, we strive to set ourselves apart by delivering legendary service. To ensure we’re always working toward that goal, we rely on Ruby Service Pyramid—our roadmap for success.

The peak of our pyramid is Make Meaningful Connections. In order to reach that peak, we need a solid infrastructure, and we need to reliably hit the second level of our pyramid: Do What We Say We’ll Do. If you missed our discussion of the first level of the pyramid, Be Prepared With the Right Infrastructure, you can find it here.

Ruby Service Pyramid

We’ve found that before we can really WOW our customers, we must establish trust by delivering on our promises. Sending a thoughtful gift to a customer can be a great way to make a meaningful connection—but if we’re failing to provide consistent service, that customer is likely to be taken aback by a gift, and may even wonder, “What am I really paying for?”

Whatever your company’s ultimate goal, making and keeping commitments is essential to building positive customer relationships. Evan H., a Problem Solver & Happiness Maker at Ruby, puts it well:

In the virtual world, communication truly defines our relationships. When we rarely meet face-to-face, how we interact voice-to-voice (or more often email-to-email) determines how we move forward, together. In this regard, consistently setting the right expectation, and then following through on that promise, allows for the development of a deep and long-term trust. A trust that in turn, serves as the foundation for lasting partnerships.

With some careful planning, you and your team can build customer trust by consistently doing what you say you’ll do. Here are some ways to get there:

Make reasonable commitments. Before you do what you say you’ll do, you have to, well, say you’ll do something. To set yourself apart from the competition, that something has to be big, right? Not necessarily. It can be tempting to make flashy promises, but without results to back them up, they’re meaningless—and possibly detrimental to your reputation. Make commitments, but choose them wisely, especially in the beginning. What do you know you can provide to customers? Tell them about it, show them why it’s important, and then—most importantly—do it. Whatever the scope of your promises, it’s your follow-through that counts.

Set yourself up for success with systems. Do you know anyone who has all the birthdates of their friends and family members memorized? Neither do I, but I know a few impressive individuals who send birthday cards to their loved ones without fail. Their system? The good, old-fashioned calendar. Don’t rely on your memory and good intentions. Put systems in place to remind you to make that call, send that bill, or place that package in the mail.

Leave space to think big. Today’s commitments may be small, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work toward bigger, flashier ones. While you’re acting in the now, think about the future, and work to turn stretch goals into standard practices. Dedication, trial and error, and time all play a role in expanding your core offerings, so carve out room to experiment and brainstorm. When you master that next offering, add it to your list of what we say we’ll dos—but only then.

Correct big for slip-ups. If one of your commitments does fall through the cracks, do whatever you need to do to show that your mistake isn’t “business as usual.” Longtime customers may be forgiving of the occasional flub, but don’t assume so—and be sure to go all out when apologizing to newer customers. Reverse charges, offer credits, send flowers if you need to. Prove your dedication, and then, do whatever it takes to ensure the same mistake doesn’t happen again.

Doing what we say we’ll do is fundamental to the Ruby, and to any successful business. Ruby Office Experience Manager Glynn D. captures it simply and beautifully:

When I do what I say I’ll do, I’m being responsible and accountable for someone else’s experience—something that I don’t ever want to personally disappoint.

Click here for the next post in our Ruby Service Pyramid® series.

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*Ruby is delighted to offer a money-back guarantee to first time users of both our virtual receptionist service and our chat service. To cancel your service and obtain a full refund for the canceled service (less any multi-service discount), please notify us of the service you wish to cancel either within 21 days of your purchase of that service or before your usage exceeds 500 receptionist minutes/50 billable chats, as applicable, whichever occurs sooner. Some restrictions may apply.