All stats referenced here are from Would You Do That to Your Mother?: The “Make Mom Proud” Standard for How to Treat Your Customers by Jeanne Bliss
As the pendulum has swung to a point where “service” is often seen as a technology answer, customers need a healthy dose of both high tech and high touch in their lives.
Here are 4 examples of companies showing their humanity in a high-tech world.
Enable people to care
Cleveland Clinic, a leading hospital in the US, consistently achieves a “recommend” rating of over 80%, well in the 90th percentile of all hospitals measured via the HCAHPS national healthcare measure.
By focusing on “care”, they revitalized their entire organization by taking actions such as:
- Establishing a “no passing” rule. Anyone passing a patient’s room who sees that the call light is on—no matter what their job is—must go in and see how they can help. The thought process: Don’t let a patient wait; take care of the life; honor the dignity.
- Elevating everyone’s role to “caregiver.” Giving people permission to go the extra mile.
- Managing the 360. This involves uniting all patient data, information, and treatment plans as a team to honor and care for the whole patient, instead of requiring them to be seen separately by many people asking the same questions.
- Translating “care” throughout every iteration of their operation. Recently, for example, Cleveland Clinic installed NICU “NicView” cameras over the beds of premature-birth babies so that parents who have to leave their newborn behind can still check in and see their little one as much as they wish.
“Know me, please!”
Today being KNOWN by the companies who serve us is an expectation. It’s table stakes. As consumers, we expect companies to “know me,” and “remember me.”
Yet, some companies are still asking the customer to retell their story to every employee they interact with. Accenture found that 89% of customers get frustrated because they need to repeat their issues to multiple representatives—or, have to repeat their stories to retail merchants who simply don’t know them or don’t have tools to know them. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, by 2020 the demand for a one-company omnichannel customer experience will be amplified by the need for near perfect execution.
Market disruptor StitchFix has done a masterful job of blending data science, an understanding of customers’ needs and preferences, and shopping behavior. What makes their approach hard to copy is the humanity they’ve wrapped around delivering relevant experiences that matter to the customer. StitchFix employs a three-part to get process to get “you to know me” right.
- First, they ask for measurements, style likes and dislikes, customer lifestyle, and clothing needs, along with client photos. They also ask for any Pinterest fashion-related pins the client may have marked. They cleverly use those Pinterest pins in programmed algorithms to help clarify style beyond what someone can fill out on a form and deliver personally curated clothing consistently to masses.
- Next, they use data science to deliver a scalable personalized experience. The algorithms that come out of the data provided spit out suggestions for stylists to utilize—everything from sizing to location, geography, body type, fabric preferences, colors, and pattern preferences. These tools are so potent that they can narrow down many options of individual pieces to those few that the customer is statistically likely to keep.
- Third, StitchFix’s thousands of stylists work through the rich content to humanize and personalize the experience by creating customized boxes of items for each of their clients.
When we are vulnerable, we need understanding and empathy. We seek a human response. The companies that stand out design warm and caring responses to their customers’ moments of vulnerability.
Warby Parker, a business that was inspired from a desire to do business differently and offer good glasses at reasonable prices, have a 30-day no question (and no giggles) guarantee. If anything happens to your new glasses within 30 days, from sitting on them to dropping them, there are no questions asked and no judgments made to replace them—Warby Parker believes you. Before they get what’s left of your old glasses back to them, new ones are already on the way.
This is our opportunity to choose to build empathetic actions into our operating model, to wire in acts of kindness and humanity, and to have knowledge of customer frailties (leading to new and innovative products and services). Companies that design their businesses around their customers’ moments of need don’t rely only on the frontline reps to soothe customers—they listen across the entire organization for these opportunities, and then build out new policies, systems, and practices to be there when customers are vulnerable and in need.
Let 2-way trust define your actions
Every customer relationship begins because a customer chooses to trust an organization and its people. Physicians are trusted with the health of families; realtors are trusted to guide a home purchase or sale; computer manufacturers are trusted to provide reliable equipment to do a job; banks are trusted to ensure financial safety and security.
The companies that show 2-way trust most have what I call “radical transparency.” This means not hiding anything from customers, and creating a balanced relationship based on both the customer and company engaging, and knowing how they’ll engage with each other. UK company OVO Energy practices this level of transparency with customers by opening up their pricing plans to the public and outlining exactly what the energy costs are to them so customers feel equity in what they are paying. As a result, they are earning customer raves and growth.
Repeatedly, companies and leaders who exhibit bravery in committing to customer relationships find that this way of thinking and operating is a growth engine for them. They build bonds by the humanity that their acts display. For example, when JetBlue decided to give customers who owed taxes in 2017 a little boost by offering them a free flight coupon, what was really buzzed about was that the airline did not ask customers for proof of taxes owed.
As customers, we desire to give our trust to companies who trust us back. Do you deliberately trust customers back for their trust in you?