Another season of March Madness is upon us! For the next three weeks, sports fans throughout the United States will be tuned into the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament and basketball fever will be in full swing. Games and tournament brackets (and wagers) will be closely monitored. Favorite teams will be cheered on. The road to the Final Four is grueling, and only the teams that have the most grit, determination, planning and talent will make it that far.
There are actually a lot of similarities between tournament championships, whether it’s basketball or any number of other sports, and providing excellent customer service, engineering an excellent customer experience and raising Net Promoter Scores.
Championship teams do not just arrive at the finals, the product of some hapless misadventure, unplanned series of exercises and practices or well-timed good fortune. Teams that make it to the championship games are those that have honed their talent and skills and applied those skills at crucial times in just the right ways at just the right times during the season. The best teams create opportunities to win and capitalize on those opportunities in order to move to the next round.
It is the same way for companies looking to provide excellent customer service, create excellent customer experiences and boost their Net Promoter Scores. Companies, call centers and customer service agents must design a winning formula and apply their skills in every single customer interaction in order to achieve these goals.
There can never be a letup. Not once. Not ever. Much like the NCAA basketball tournament, the customer experience is a single-elimination endeavor, day after day. In March Madness, one bad game and you’re sent packing. There are no second chances.
Like it or not, that’s the way it is in today’s extremely competitive customer service environment. Employees who interact with customers on a daily basis have to be game on with their skills. They have to play with purpose, passion and professionalism through every touchpoint, just like a skilled athlete.
- Develop a Game Plan and Execute. The goal is not to play hard. While perhaps noble in intent, trying to provide excellent customer service and trying to create an excellent customer experience, without more, will not produce much for you in the way of customer loyalty and Net Promoter Score success. You have to win to move on, and winning, as we said above, requires grit, determination, planning and execution. Most of the great plays we will see on the basketball court over the next several weeks will be anything but random. Do your customer service agents have the skills to plan for how they will provide excellent customer service and create an excellent customer experience?
- Consistently Apply the Right Skills; Having Knowledge is Not Enough. Possessing skills, without more, is not enough. All the players in the championship tournament have skills. It is the team that uses those skills in just right way at just the right time that wins in the critical moments. Front-line customer interaction employees must apply their skills purposefully and intentionally in order to provide excellent customer service and engineer an excellent customer experience within every touchpoint. They have to meet the customer’s practical and emotional needs and provide a perceived low effort experience every time in order to push customers up the Net Promoter Score scale, turning Detractors and Passives into Promoters.
- Play to Win. Every customer interaction must be a play to win experience, because every interaction counts in building loyalty and increasing Net Promoter Scores. It is not enough to provide excellent customer service and create an excellent customer experience for 70% of the customer interactions. It makes no difference to any one customer how well you treated the previous customer. Just like in basketball, having a great first half does not ensure victory, nor does playing a great game two nights ago guaranty continued survival in the tournament. To consistently build customer loyalty and boost Net Promoter Scores, every customer interaction has to produce the optimal outcome for that interaction.
- Coach, Coach and Coach Some More. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, earning a berth to the championship tournament requires phenomenal and regular coaching. Any great team, no matter how talented its players, needs a great coach and leader to provide direction, encouragement, accountability, motivation and the guidance to win. Does your customer service team receive that coaching? Do the coaches even have the right coaching skills? Or is their leader just another cheerleader on the sidelines … wanting the team to do well but not taking a proactive role in fostering a winning mindset and culture that creates customer loyalty and improves Net Promoter Scores?
You and your customer service team can be victorious when it comes to providing excellent customer service, creating an excellent customer experience and achieving high Net Promoter Scores. Develop and execute a good game plan, consistently apply the right skills, play to win and provide the right coaching for your customer interactions. That’s where it starts.
What is your plan to win it all?