The Effects of Bad Customer Service and Why it’s Costing Your Company MILLIONS!

Sometime today or tomorrow you’re going to receive bad customer service from a company that you do business with. It could be a dry cleaner, auto mechanic, dentist, or any company. Immediately you will feel the effects of bad customer service.

I’m not being cynical, it’s just the fact of the matter.

After centuries of doing business, why is something as important as delivering great customer service to grow through referrals and repeat customers seem to get a short end of operating budgets?

Companies like Warby Parker and Starbucks are people-focused which allows them to deliver great experiences to customers, employees and their community.

The outcome is multi-billion dollar companies.

Most companies are either product, sales or marketing-centric. To put it another way, their engineering, business development, and brand teams are much larger than their customer service or HR teams and receive a larger piece of their operating budget.

These companies are focused on customer acquisition through PPC, Facebook ads, expensive sales seminars, influencer marketing and more. I’m not suggesting that any of this is wrong but I will advocate that keeping a customer is just as important, if not more important than inorganically acquiring them.

I don’t believe any company thinks, “I’m not interested in delivering great customer service.” I do believe that we lose focus on what’s most important. Publicly traded companies must grow each quarter at all costs and that could mean only investing in things that will help them grow in the short-term.

Companies like Warby Parker and Starbucks don’t do that. They invest in the long-term even if that means “willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time” as Jeff Bezos famously said many years ago.

Take Amazon, for example, I’d bet that you didn’t know that their tagline and slogan for the company is to be “earth’s most customer-centric company.” It’s not to be “earth’s biggest.” This is a testament to their seamless customer experience that has us buying more and more every year.

Amazon started off as a small, garage-operated website, they earned our trust by selling books. For years they created loyalty by selling one product and when the time was right, they started selling more products in different verticals. Today, they have Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon Basics and more.

I believe everything they did was calculated. They lost or broke even for years because they wanted to. They wanted to continuously reinvest in the business so they could create better experiences for us, the customers. When they knew they had our loyalty they created services – ones like AWS and Amazon Basics – that had much higher profits margins. Now, they are extremely profitable and one of the biggest companies on the planet.

How did they do this? Because of their investment in customer service and to be “earth’s most customer-centric.”

My question for all of us is – why aren’t we investing in the same philosophy?

I believe there are five things to consider to understand why your company is still delivering average or poor customer service which is impeding your growth.

1. You Aren’t Hiring Customer-Centric People

One of the things I’ve grown as a skill set to ensure my companies deliver a great customer experience is my ability to spot what I call “customer-centric pros.” These individuals know how to care about strangers.

After all, at the beginning of your relationship with new customers, they will be strangers. It takes a certain individual, or as I say, “one with customer-centric DNA” to deliver great customer service every single day.

Review the way you interview for, not just customer-facing roles, but every role in your company. What type of questions do you ask in the interview to probe for this skill set? Do they have soft skills? Are they humble? Are they kind? Start saying no to brilliant jerks.

To truly be customer-focused, every single person in your company must be devoted to delivering an amazing experience.

2. You’ve Grown Too Fast

Controlled growth is the way I like to expand a company. If you’re growing too fast without a customer-centric strategy to support this growth, then the seams of your company will start to unravel.

When our company added another venue and 50+ new team members I knew we would need help so I created a Culture Committee team. I appointed individuals from different venues and departments to form a team that came together to talk about our customer experience every single month. It also gave me half a dozen sets of eyes and ears on the ground floor to advocate our customer experience efforts.

If you expect to grow in 2020 and beyond, please do your company and customers a grand service by creating a Culture Committee and Voice of the Customer (VoC) program. If you’re already doing this, great! Keep going and consider doubling down on your efforts. Your customers will never complain about having too much service and you will be rewarded with more profit because of repeat customers and word of mouth marketing.

3. Determine Your Customer’s Pain Points

Customer journey mapping is an extraordinary exercise that hasn’t gone mainstream yet. In short, it’s when your team comes together to identify each interaction your customer experiences when doing business with you from beginning to end.

Take my industry, hospitality, as an example. If we were to host a customer journey mapping exercise we would be identifying customer touchpoints like booking a reservation on our mobile or desktop website, where our guests park their cards, cleanliness of our bathrooms and elevators, how long it takes for drinks to arrive at the table after being ordered and more.

After we’ve outlined each interaction, we start to discuss which touchpoints we’re excelling in and which ones are frustrating our customers and causing pain points for them. These pain points are when you have customers saying,

“Screw this restaurant! I’m never coming back.”

Maybe the pain point is that it takes too long to respond to guest’s emails inquiring about a reservation or it takes too long to receive your bill after dining. Regardless of the pain point or moment that it happens within the journey, it’s frustrating your customers and causing a lot of friction in the experience.

The effects of bad customer service are that they never come back, spread negative word of mouth and write bad Google reviews.

Before you move to the next point within this post, think of which touchpoint within your customer journey map is causing your customers frustration.

4. Legacy is Crushing You

I see this a lot in family runs businesses and companies that have been around for decades.

The people who started the business and did an exceptional job at growing it haven’t sharpened their skill sets over the years and neglected that behaviours – ones of customers and employees – have changed.

If you find yourself thinking, “But, this has worked in the past” to justify doing something the same way as you did ten years ago then it’s likely you’re on the wrong side of the fence.

Sometimes there needs to be a changing of the guard. I’m not suggesting that the leadership from yesterday needs to retire or move into the shadows but I am strongly advocating that they allow the leaders of tomorrow to have a say in how they operate. A fresh perspective can be very valuable to create great customer service strategies.

At the time of writing this blog post, I’m 33 years old. I wouldn’t suggest that legacy is crushing me and I don’t plan on that happen. To prevent this, I regularly meet with more youthful professionals, like Swish Goswami and Kieran Matthew, to advance my knowledge.

5. You’re Not Investing In The Right Areas Of The Business

I mentioned this earlier in the blog post, you may not be investing enough resources into your customer service efforts.

I’m often greeted with, “But, Michel, we can’t afford it.”

My response is always, “Yes, you can afford is. You’re just choosing to spend it elsewhere.”

There may be an opportunity to invest more without actually spending more. Consider this…

What if, next year, you take 10% of what you spend on marketing the year before and invest it into improving your customer service?

Now, before you think, “But, what about our marketing efforts to get new customers?!”

Remember what I said earlier, retaining customers is more important than acquiring new ones that are only going to buy off you once and never again because your customer service is bad.

Do you recall the Starbucks Superbowl ad from Superbowl LIII? No, you don’t because Starbucks doesn’t advertise traditionally.

As former Starbucks CEO said, Starbucks is not an advertiser; people think we are a great marketing company, but in fact, we spend very little money on marketing and more money on training our people than advertising.

That training produces a greater customer experience that allows them to go from four stores to 20,000+ and become a globally recognizable brand and worth billions of dollars.

Customer service training can be your greatest source of advertising, you just need to invest to reap the benefits. Trust me, the effects of bad customer service are not worth it!

Improve Your Customer Experience With Customer Journey Mapping (Case Study Included)

In all my years of focusing on customer experience management, there is one practice that stands out amongst them all…customer journey mapping!

Watch my detailed video above (16 minutes) to learn:

? How customer journey mapping will improve your operational strategy.

? My ‘traffic light model’ to clearly identify your strengths and opportunities to improve.

? How I helped a dental practice revitalize their patient experience.

If you prefer to read about customer journey mapping, I’ve attached the transcript of this video below!

In this video, I’m going to share how any company in any industry, can improve their customer experience by leveraging customer journey mapping. I’m going to introduce you to my traffic light model toward the end of the video. It’s something that I use within my business, which sees tens of thousands of customers per month.

I’ve leveraged my customer experience strategies and shared them with companies like CenturyLink, Alfa Romeo, Verizon Wireless, and dozens of others. The reason I share that with you, is because my strategies are tried, tested, and true. They’re working for me and I guarantee they will work for you as well.

I’m going to teach you how to improve your customer experience by using customer journey mapping regardless of whether you are a million, or a billion dollar company. Not only that, I’m going to teach you how to host a customer journey mapping workshop for your company. I’ll share the value of it, and how to optimize the results. And you’re going to get an introduction to my traffic light model.

Customer journey mapping is a fantastic way to improve your customer experience.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what Steve Mascarin, a local dentist here in Toronto had to say after we hosted a customer journey mapping workshop for his company.

“So I’ve been working with Michel for two years now and I’ve seen him perform on stage in front of 2000 people, and in a small intimate group like we had today of 25 people. And he goes out with the same energy and passion, no matter how large the group is, or what type of industry he’s working with. And I cannot think of or know of anybody that’s got more experience, and is more on the cutting edge of the customer experience and customer touch points and improving them. And the results that I’ve had so far have been unbelievable. I’m so much further ahead of my competitors in my industry. And I don’t think there’s any way they’re going to catch me now because I’ve been working with Michel.”

For those not familiar, customer journey mapping is a workshop that you will host with your company that outlines the macro and the micro interactions that your customers experience when doing business with you from beginning to end. It gives you a holistic view to understand where your strengths and your opportunities are to improve from an operational perspective. It will allow you to build operational improvement plans to continuously refine the business.

I like to use going to the movie theatres as an example when I host private workshops because it’s easily relatable. What do you experience when going to the movie theatres? Well, there’s a lot. Some of the more common macro interactions would include awareness, such as seeing a Facebook ad or driving by the movie theatres. Next, you’re going to want to purchase your tickets. You might do that on a mobile website, or their desktop site. Or you might choose to go to the movie theatres and purchase them through an employee, or at a self serve kiosk. And of course one of the macro interactions within the movie theatre is purchasing popcorn at the concession stand.

But what about the micro experiences? The little interactions within the customer journey. This is where I like to live within, to be able to grow my businesses, because often this isn’t where your competition is focused on. Some of the micro interactions within the customer journey of a movie theatre could include the cleanliness of the bathroom, or does the ketchup pump actually have ketchup near the concession stand after you buy your hot dog? This is where we have to focus to be able to create an experience that our customers have never seen before and customer journey mapping allows you to do this.

I believe if you want to remain relevant within your industry, you must compete within the macro interactions.

But you must also excel within the micro interactions within your customer journey. Of course, these aren’t all of the touch points in a movie theatre, but you get the point. Hosting customer journey mapping workshops will improve your customer experience because it will bring your team together. My mandate is to have at least one person from every department present when hosting the workshop. This proves to be beneficial because you get a 360 view of the customer journey.

Identifies areas of strength and opportunities to improve your customer experience. It will influence positive debate within the company. You’ll create alignment. After all, how can you improve something together if you’re not aligned behind what you’re trying to improve. And it will have your team members literally saying, “I didn’t know your department experience that. That’s why you do it that way.”

Earlier in the video I introduced you to Steve Mascarin. He’s the owner of Taunton Village Dental. Rather than giving you anecdotes on how to host a customer journey mapping workshop for your company, why don’t I take you through the step by step process that we leverage to be able to create a customer journey mapping workshop for his dental practice. Prior to the workshop, this is how we prepared. We sent a company wide announcement, letting everyone know that they would be attending a full day workshop to improve the company’s patient experience.

The room was filled with people from all departments. We welcomed managers, dentists, hygienists, office team members, and many more. Within the communication, we outlined why we were doing this, and how we were going to measure success. We selected the perfect venue. I don’t recommend hosting the workshop at your place of business, because you don’t want the audience to be distracted with the day to day of the operation. We purchased things such as markers, sticky notes, and paper board.

We started the day by outlining a few things such as what is the difference between customer service and customer experience. I introduced them to my People First culture and 3P strategy, and explained how it would impact their dental practice. And we also role-played it through the movie theatre experience so that I could get them to start thinking about a customer journey of something that they’re familiar with.

I then broke the company into groups of five. Here’s some best practices in doing that. Ensure that departments separate themselves. For example, I didn’t allow dentists or hygienists to group themselves together. Perhaps you’re going to want to separate your sales, marketing team, or customer service team. Next, you’re going to want to appoint a note taker and a presenter within each individual group. We outlined five stages within the customer journey: awareness, booking, arrival, procedure, and post procedure.

Give them a real world example and have them define the customer persona. For Taunton Village Dental, I asked them to outline the customer journey for a new hygiene patient. Let’s evaluate the five different stages before we move forward. The awareness stage for a dental practice could be receiving a piece of direct mail, listening to a radio campaign, or seeing a Facebook ad. The booking touchpoint could include calling the practice to reserve an appointment, using some sort of booking software, or emailing them.

The arrival stage could include driving your car into their parking lot, opening the door of the practice, speaking to some of their friendly team members, plus much more. The procedure stage within the customer journey could include walking into the operatory, turning on Netflix, meeting the hygienists, plus much more. The post procedure stage could include billing, filing for insurance, leaving the practice, and receiving a follow up survey.

Let’s think about a different industry for a moment. My industry is hospitality, and when we hosted our customer journey mapping workshop, we outlined 37 different customer touch points within the entire customer journey just for one customer persona. Think about your industry for a moment. If you hosted a customer journey mapping workshop with your company, how many different interactions would your team members outline throughout the entire experience?

To improve your customer experience by hosting a customer journey mapping workshop, there are a few best practices to adhere to. Encourage your team to have an optimistic viewpoint when doing this. Having naysayers and negative people involved in this process will be demoralizing. As a matter of fact, get these people entirely out of your business. Ensure that you’ve selected a customer persona and outlined five to seven different stages within the customer journey.

Focus on the current state of the customer experience. Don’t outline what you want to create for your customers in the future. That will come later. Outline every touchpoint, macro and micro, and don’t just outline the touch points you excel in. And if there are multiple touch points that intersect each other. For example, if your customer can buy tickets to the movie theatre online and offline, then you can label those touch points as 3A and touch point 3B.

There is no one size fits all to host a customer journey mapping workshop for your company. After all, every industry is different. It took Taunton Village Dental four hours to outline the customer journey for just one customer persona. Once you’ve outlined at least one customer journey, you’re going to want to have each group present their findings. Now this is where it becomes interesting. You’re going to observe whether your team is aligned or not. In all my years of hosting customer journey mapping workshops for companies big and small, I have not experienced an organization present the exact same findings.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it will create awareness that the organization needs to create greater alignment behind the customer experience. Before moving forward, I will have the entire organization sign off on what they believe that customer journey is. Now is the time that I will introduce you to my traffic light model. Now, this is how customer journey mapping is going to improve your customer experience. I want you to go through every single interaction and label it: red, yellow, or green. Red is where customer retention is being negatively impacted. Yellow is threatened to turn red unless you do something on an operational level. And green are the interactions that your customers absolutely love you for.

You don’t want to label things red, yellow, or green anecdotally. Leverage customer feedback such as Google reviews, customer surveys, and any type of feedback that you’re able to gather from a customer advisory board to ensure that you’re labeling each interaction correctly. Share the interactions that you’ve labeled green with your sales and marketing teams. I suggest this because if your customers of today love you for certain interactions within your customer journey, don’t you think perspective customers will also love you for those same interactions.

Have your sales team include these interactions within their sales presentation and have your marketing include it within their marketing mix. I wouldn’t suggest starting with yellow interactions unless it’s an easy fix because you want to begin with the red interactions, because that is where the bleeding is happening. I’m sure you’re going to be eager and motivated and want to tackle every red interaction at once, but I actually recommend against doing that, largely because of bandwidth and being able to effectively improve the operation.

Start with the red interactions that are negatively impacting customer retention, sales, and profitability. Begin with one red touchpoint. Create an operational improvement plan. Then don’t move on to the second, until the first has started to trend downward. Once you’ve completed all the red, then move on to the yellow interactions. Here’s a great thing that I have within my business that I wanted to share with you that will help you improve your customer experience.

Create a service level agreement. Within my business, our service level agreement is that we will create three operational improvement plans every quarter. This ensures that your customer experience doesn’t remain stagnant. Hosting customer journey mapping to improve your customer experience isn’t for beginners, but when you are able to implement it within your organization, you will reap tremendous value and benefits to continuously serve your customers and build your business.

Here’s the testimonial of a client that I recently hosted a workshop for:

Thank you Michel for your inspirational presentation. After you left, we went through an exercise to identify short term, longterm, cross departmental, and crazy ass ideas to put into practice at Century Lock. I expected our team to come up with 20 to 30 solid ideas, and I was blown away as we came up with almost 100. Thanks again for your help inspiring our culture and customer experience leadership.

This company generated 100 new ideas to improve their customer experience. By no means is that common. However, if you host a customer journey mapping workshop for your company, whether it’s 10, 20, or 35 new ideas, customer journey mapping has proven to improve an organization’s customer experience and bring the organization together to think about that next great customer experience strategy.

There you have it. That is how customer journey mapping will improve your customer experience regardless of the size of your business or the industry.

Along the way, if you need help, feel free to contact me directly (michel@michelfalcon.com). We can jump on the phone, and I can answer any questions you might have.

How To Host A Customer Journey Mapping Workshop

Today, I’m in Oshawa, Ontario working with Taunton Village Dental to help them improve their customer experience by hosting a customer journey mapping workshop. I’m going to introduce them to my people first culture and three piece strategy. Introduce them to customer personality types and how to manage behaviors, plus much, much more.

Customer journey mapping will give you an advantage over your competitors…

because you’re going to be continuously refining the interactions that they experience when doing business with you from beginning to end. My recommendation is to improve the customer experience by deploying at least three customer-facing initiatives per quarter.

“And I cannot think of, or know of anybody that’s got more experience and is more on the cutting edge of the customer experience and the customer’s touchpoints and improving them, and the results that I’ve had so far have been unbelievable.” – Dr. Steve Mascarin, Founder of Taunton Village Dental 

Customer journey mapping workshops will improve your organization’s…

customer experience because your company will be continuously refining the interactions within the customer experience which will influence greater customer loyalty and grow your business.

“With asking for my staff’s input on what they think a customer experience would entail, I was able to get more of a response from my staff, therefore they went above and beyond for our patients, because they felt like they had involvement in the process. So, therefore the things we implemented were always followed, because they felt like they were part of something that was happening in the office, rather than just being directed to do it.” – Sherry Fitzpatrick, Director, Operations at Taunton Village Dental

The key outcomes of posting a customer journey mapping workshop are…

to bring together the entire organization where each and every department is represented. During the workshop, you’re responsible for identifying each customer interaction within the customer journey.

Posting a customer journey mapping workshop acts as an operational improvement strategy, because you will identify the strengths and the opportunities that your organization has to improve the customer experience and earn customer loyalty.

“I’m so much further ahead of my competitors in my industry, and I don’t think there’s any way they’re gonna catch me now because I’ve been working with Michel.” – Dr. Steve Mascarin, Founder of Taunton Village Dental 

To contact Michel about hosting a customer journey mapping workshop for your company, simply email michel@michelfalcon.com.