Cues, Signals and Understanding
The intersection of, Customer Service and Social CRM is about being human, listening for signals and watching for cues. The secret sauce is understanding what you have observed and acting accordingly. On the one hand, you could call this a lesson in Social CRM, while on the other hand, you could call this being human 101.
It is a bit like being married – as any man will tell you, the spousal response “I am fine” means anything but that! It is not the words, but the context, which supports my key point, cues; verbal and non-verbal add context. The ability to understand the cues and act upon them is the difference between a good and poor experience (or sleeping on the sofa). In the world of contact centers and customer service, it is the difference between good and bad customer experience. As an aside, ‘acting’ upon something can easily be doing nothing.
The Wall Street Journal published an interesting article that illustrated the point quite well. The setting is a restaurant, the ‘Agents’ are waiters and waitresses and the patrons are, well, customers. There are some spot on reflections of a service experience, which serve as examples examples:
- Timing: The time of dining and/or dress might suggest that dining is not the main event.
- Guests: Kids at the table might suggest that speed up the service and give the dessert menu to mom.
- Drinks: A request for the wine menu suggests, not only that a drink is in order, but that the dining experience is might be more relaxed and casual.
Are these meant to be rules? No, guidelines maybe, things to think about which can lead to a better overall experience. How does this, or can this help in the contact center? Is this only for small businesses, or large ones as well?
“Some restaurants still employ waiter scripts, but now they are being used to dig for guest information. At Romano’s Macaroni Grill, an Italian-themed chain, waiters are taught to use their scripted offer of house wine to find out if the table will want a fast, leisurely, or lively meal.”
Scripts, scripts, hmmm…
Rigid process versus guide and adapt, sounds familiar doesn’t it. Table dynamics suggests how the waiter should act, or react. In other words, how or how not to Engage the people at the table is a critical lesson to learn, quickly as well. Given all of the talk of engagement, it is important to point out that choosing NOT to engage is an equally important possibility.
“We changed ‘suggestive selling’ to ‘situational selling,’ ” says Rene Zimmerman, senior director of training and development for Bob Evans Farms Inc., a family-style restaurant and food maker. Instead of offering every breakfast guest one additional item, say biscuits and gravy, waiters are taught to adjust their offer depending upon the guest. For a diner who places a lighter order, like a bagel and fruit, the waiter might suggest a cup of coffee or tea.”
Here are the lessons, from a restaurant we can learn:
- Service is a differentiator
- Scripts need to be dynamic
- Upsell or Cross-Sell (or nothing) needs to depend up the cues
- Value is more than just product, it is the whole of the experience
Why do I believe that this could be considered Social CRM? If we believe that Social CRM is the company’s response to the customer’s control of the conversation, then it makes perfect sense. As I suggested recently, engagement is really at the behest of the customer. Choosing not to engage is an acceptable outcome, they just want a meal and to move on to their next activity. This is not a Marketing activity, this is mostly service, with a bit of sales.
One point I would like to leave you with is this: Until technology can truly simulate/accurately represent looking someone in the eye when you are talking to them, technology will be just that, technology. Physical cues are lost on the phone, we can only do our best to interpret. Verbal cues are lost through Email and Social Media (excluding YouTube of course).
What can else can we learn here?
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
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