Archives for posts with tag: customer service

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As you know, customers are the most valuable asset to your business, so it is important to invest in keeping them happy. Did you know that each unhappy customer will tell an average of ten potential customers about their dissatisfaction? That’s a staggering thought. There’s a lot more at stake than you may realize when a customer becomes upset. You have to consider the potential loss of their future business in addition to the cost of potential new customers. On average, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain satisfied customers. Now, that’s not to say we don’t need new customers. But what if we balance the satisfaction of our current customers in addition to acquiring new ones?

Next time you are faced with an opportunity, here are 6 steps that will help demonstrate your commitment to the customer:

1 – Listen. Especially in Customer Support, it’s in our nature to want to solve the problem right away. But by listening first, you might hear something differently than you first assumed. Be an active listener. Take notes and summarize what you heard to ensure you completely understand the matter at hand.

2 – Remain calm. Emotions can run high, especially in the heat of the moment. Remind yourself that you are here to help, and remove your emotions from the situation.

3 – Don’t take it personally. When an individual is frustrated, it may feel like it is being directed at you.  Remind yourself that it he or she is frustrated with the situation and not you personally.

4 – Provide regular updates. Nothing is worse than the waiting game. Even if you don’t have all of the answers, keep the customer updated on the steps you’re taking to resolve the issue so they will understand it is important to you and to the company.

5 – Pick up the phone.  In today’s email and social networking world, a message can be interpreted many different ways. To avoid miscommunication, pick up the phone and have a conversation.

6 – Find a solution and follow-up. Most importantly, provide a resolution and follow up with the customer to close the loop and ensure they feel the situation has been resolved.

HON’s Customer Support members live by these steps. We understand the opportunity to not only help our customers, but to also demonstrate our loyalty and commitment to them.  What additional best practices do you follow?

Please join me for a virtual tour of HON Customer Solutions! I will take you through four prevalent activities that are practiced here in HON CS.

Support

As we strive to deliver an effortless customer experience as an organization, providing valuable support to our customers in Customer Solutions is our number one focus. Our department encompasses Business Relations Specialists (Regionalized teams), Government Solutions Specialists (Government Solutions Team), Commercial and Government Order Entry, Product Solutions Specialists, Commercial and Government Project Coordinators, Tailored Solutions, Dealer Services Group, and Integrated Design Solutions. Members of all divisions work near to other members of their team to maximize communicative efficiency.

Pictured: Business Relations Specialists answering customer phone calls and emails

Pictured: Business Relations Specialists answering customer phone calls and emails

Pictured: Integrated Design Solutions answering customer phone calls and emails

Pictured: Integrated Design Solutions team busy working on design projects and specs and answering customer phone calls

Learn

We value training and continuous learning in Customer Solutions as part of a Rapid Continuous Improvement mentality. Our training room serves not only as a classroom for new members, but for all department members during frequent training sessions on important business updates.

Pictured: Training class in Customer Solutions training room

Pictured: Training class in Customer Solutions training room

Pictured: Training class in Customer Solutions conference room

Pictured: Training class in Customer Solutions conference room

Collaborate

We employ a strong sense of community in Customer Solutions. I believe this to be driven by our support of one another through collaboration. Our department is furnished with several collaborative meeting areas that allow for impromptu meetings to share ideas or touch base; or to simply take a break.

Pictured: Collaborative meeting area

Pictured: Collaborative meeting area

Pictured: Collaborative meeting area

Pictured: Collaborative meeting area

Refuel

Breaks are important for maintaining consistent productivity. Members are able to visit the kitchen steps from their workspace to grab a coffee, soda, or a snack from the vending machine.

Pictured: Customer Solutions kitchen and break room

Pictured: Customer Solutions kitchen and break room

Pictured: Members are treated to movie theatre style popcorn on special occasions!

Pictured: Members are treated to movie theatre style popcorn on special occasions!

VOC Quote

Woodrow Wilson had it right – you don’t become a leader in your industry without first listening to your customers. The connections our customers make with our brand, their attitudes towards our products, and the many ways they interact with us are all what we at HON call the “Voice of the Customer”. It is ultimately what they want, not what we want, that drives our product development processes and business practices. But, what exactly is the voice of the customer? Let’s look at the basics.

Who?

Listening is only valuable if you are listening to the right information from the right people. Know who your target audiences are and focus your attention on them. Also, remember that customer feedback doesn’t always come straight from your customers. Spend some time chatting with your sales team after a big pitch, talk to your social media manager or listen in on a call with a member of your customer support team. Take advantage of the information you can easily find from internal employees who spend most of their time interacting closely with your stakeholders. These people often have the most unique insight into how and why people make purchasing decisions which can help you improve your products and translate into more sales for your company.

What?

Although it sounds counterintuitive, listening in the business world isn’t always done with your ears. It comes in many different forms. You can ask customers for information directly, through techniques such as surveys or focus groups; or, you can ask them indirectly by monitoring their interactions on social media, tracking patterns in their purchasing behavior or checking in with members of your internal team as mentioned above. Conducting a big study to listen to your customers can be expensive, but even if your budget doesn’t allow a line item for Voice of the Customer research there are several free online tools to help get you started. The conversations your customers are having online matter, especially when 94% of buyers research their products of interest online before they make a purchase and the average customer checks over 10 different sources for information and reviews before they buy.  Setting up automatic Google Alerts for your company, using sites like Addict-o-matic to understand how people search for you, and listening to your social media communities through services such as Hootsuite or Social Mention are just a few of the easy ways you can observe the attitudes people hold towards your brand and really hear what they have to say. (And they are free!)

Where?

The best way to listen to your customers is to find them where they already are.  If your target audience is Millennials, it’s probably more worthwhile to reach out to them on social media platforms rather than through an ad in a local print newspaper. If you receive an email from a customer, respond with an email. If they call you on the phone, call them back. It gets too complicated to try to transition your conversations from one medium to the next, and adding additional steps for your customers to take in order to communicate with you only makes it less likely that they will.

When?

This is a trick question, because the act of listening never really begins or ends. As long as you are in business with your customers, consider your relationship with them an ongoing conversation. Listen and respond appropriately, letting your product enhancements, sustainability efforts and community outreach projects do your talking for you. Just like with any conversation, once you listen you must respond. Whether you do so through words or actions, make sure you are adding value to your customers’ brand experience and always make yourselves available for continuous two-way communication.

Why?

The bottom line is that listening to your customers is crucial to your success, so recognizing its significance is the first step towards becoming a business that listens well. Accept that “leader” is synonymous with “listener”. Your customers are already talking, so you might as well pay attention! When you understand what really matters to your key audiences, your products and services are not all that will improve; you’ll be able to anticipate questions and potential problems before they happen, and get a head start on providing the right solution. The more proactively you can give your customers what they truly want, the more positively your brand will be perceived.

What are some tools or techniques you use to really listen to your customers?

When I began my career at HON as a Business Relations Specialist in Customer Support, I was a recent college grad finding my way in the world. Though I knew little about the office furniture industry at the time (what’s an asynchronous control?), I jumped in with both feet. Here are a few of the reasons why I love working in Customer Support at HON:

1. We Live (and Work) in the Midwest

You may know Iowa for its cows, corn, or infamous Fried Butter (thank you Iowa State Fair). But, it is also known for the people who call it home. Iowa, the quintessential Midwestern state, is one of the top ten happiest states according to a recent Gallup poll.  So, how does this affect our customer support skills? We’re happy to answer the phone –from right here in Iowa – and answer any questions you may have.

2. We’re Dedicated to Our Members

We understand our most valuable asset is our people. That’s why HON doesn’t have employees – we have members – and each member is vital to our success. HON offers a variety of member development programs, from Leadership Foundations to Presentation Skills training to foster personal growth within the organization. The HON Company is committed to seeing our members succeed!

3. We Have Fun

As my past blogs have alluded, there’s never a dull moment at HON! We definitely know how to work hard and play hard. Whether we’re making Kryptonite Juice for a Superhero Food Day contest or playing a highly competitive game of Friday Bingo, we know how to have fun.  Not only does this injection of creativity and friendly competition create a better work environment, but it instills a stronger sense of community in our members (and allows for the occasional good natured jab at whoever wins bingo!)

4. We’re Committed to Our Partners

… And their success. From offering the free services of our ingenious Integrated Design Solutions team or making it a priority to respond to phone calls in less than a minute, we want to make it easy for those who partner with us to sell our product. Being the ‘Best in the Industry’ isn’t just a goal, it’s a commitment we make to anyone who does business with HON.

5. We’re a Team

‘Team’ isn’t just four letters at HON Customer Support – its seventy-six people. Whether we’re doing our Friday Wave (think basketball games) or assisting a fellow member with a rush order, we’ve got each others’ backs. One of the best things about working at HON is that our members genuinely care about each other – and that drives the teamwork that makes our department function like a well-oiled machine.

6. We Work at HON!

Whenever I drive down the highway and see a HON truck, I feel the need to point it out to my fellow passengers (and make known to them exactly what arms, colors, and options are available on that Nucleus chair). It’s a sense of brand pride, and whenever you call in to HON Customer Support we share that experience with you. While I haven’t yet spray painted my car the HON colors, you can be sure that I bleed HON green!

Why do you love HON Customer Support?

HON Customer Support MemberAbout a month ago, I had an awful experience when I tried to call and change my satellite TV service.  The funny thing is, the plan I was switching to would have made the company more money!  Needless to say, they lost that opportunity through poor customer service.  Haven’t we all had those poor customer service experiences?  Anxious. Nervous. Stressed. Exhausted. Angry. Frustrated.

Here at The HON Company, we want you to feel satisfied, comfortable, and confident in the assistance you receive.  We pride ourselves on the fact that our members go through an intensive training process that allows us to properly assist every customer.   We strive to be easy to do business with, and our Customer Support training process allows our members to learn and live this philosophy.

The training process begins with classroom training.  Starting day one, our members are immersed not only in Customer Support processes, but also The HON Company culture and values.   They learn about the history of our organization, tour production and warehouse facilities, and get hands-on experience with our products.  Members in Customer Support are given access to every available resource, in order to be prepared for the stream of questions and inquiries they experience on a daily basis.  In addition to classroom training, they gain insight on other functional areas of HON and get real-world exposure to customer requests through phone and email shadowing.

New members on our Customer Support team receive input from our experienced members, train diligently on our applications, and are given in-depth scenarios to apply processes to situations they may encounter.  As a department, we recognize how difficult it can be to manage customer requests—but we also know how important customer satisfaction is to our business.   In fact, every member of our leadership team was once a front line member who managed customer inquiries.

Of course, we cannot prepare for every single situation.  However, through our training process, our Customer Support members gain the knowledge to be able to find an answer that may not be readily available.  There may be occasions where a customer has to be placed on hold or followed up with, but our goal is to strive for a first contact resolution.  As a team, we know that it is important for our members to be able to find resolution as quickly as possible for customers.  After all, without good customer support, there would be no customers…and without customers, there would be no HON!

Everyone has had a negative experience when contacting customer support—we aim to make sure this never happens when you contact HON.  We want our customers feel confident the answers they receive are accurate. Regardless of whether your question is as simple as “What’s my ship date” or more challenging like “How do I specify an electrical set up with my systems order?”, you can be sure that HON Customer Support will give you the best possible customer service experience.

Have a Question? Contact HON Customer Support

Contrary to the ever-popular Wizard of Oz, HON Customer Support wants you to know the “man behind the curtain”. Or, in this case, phone. When you call Customer Support, you’ll connect with one of our forty team members to provide a part, product, solution, or status.  Our mission is to be easy to do business with (ETDBW) and to serve our loyal customer base with flawless efficiency.

One may ask what some of our most common queries are, and you might be surprised! Below, we’ll examine some of our most common questions and follow the yellow brick road to your answers:

  1.  Order Status and Changes: What’s this, you might ask? ‘What is my Acknowledgement Date?’ is one of our most common questions. We’re always happy to provide this information, and so is HON Ready. The Order Status Application, located under the Order Management tab, has readily accessible information, searchable by Purchase Order number, Shipping Order number, Load or Invoice number. If you’d rather speak to a human being, Customer Support will always answer your call!
  1. Date Improvements: Ah, the ever elusive “need-it-yesterday” ship date.  To provide quick turnaround, we’ve implemented programs to assist in these markets. Our HON Daily Programs, namely HON Daily On Demand (HDOD) and HON Daily Chairs Direct, are quick ships designed to give you want you need, deliver it fast, and help you sell more HON. Each program targets a market niche. For instance, our Chairs Direct program gives you dozens of models and a plethora of options. The best part? Your chair(s) ship in two business days. What a deal!
  1. Tracking and Delivery Information: On the lookout for your HON truck? If you’re anything like me, before I came to HON as a rosy-cheeked college graduate, I knew little to nothing about freight carriers. With some time and training, I became a logistics guru. The experts at Customer Support can provide you with up to date tracking information to assist in scheduling your installer or working with your end user. In addition, we can obtain Proof of Deliveries, Bills of Lading, and circle sheets if necessary. If you happen to be playing “Spot the HON Truck”, my Customer Support cohorts and I are experts; we can spot one right now near you!

toy trucks

  1. Fabrics and Finishes: Personally, my favorite textile is Brisa Birch (RS64) and the ever popular Whisper Vinyl comes in a strong second. Customer Support receives many calls on this topic, whether it is clarification on a color code, understanding available options, or checking to see which patterns are a part of our Preferred Fabrics. In this, the List Pricer is one of our best references. Our well worn pricer pal gives us a variety of options and codes to choose from; and we’re accustomed to flipping through to help you find the best fit. Additionally, hon.com is an excellent resource to find codes, patterns, and pictures of these textiles.
  1. Serial Number Information and Warranty: What’s in a serial number? Everything! By providing us with a serial number, Customer Support can hone in on your particular model, check warranty, determine original order information, and find Toto, too. Not only can we see if you’ve spoken to someone else in Customer Support about your unit, but we can also check if we’ve already sent you parts. Almost every unit produced at HON has a serial number, and they’re all unique (which makes for quite a few!). ‘What is your serial number?’ is likely to be one of the first questions we’ll ask you- and now you know why!

Remember, Customer Support is here to be a resource for you; we’re [HON] ready to help! Contact HON Customer Support at honcustomersupport@honcompany.com or 1.800.833.3964!

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