A few weeks ago, I visited my local supermarket for the regular shop. Approaching the entrance, I spied the much-touted hand sanitiser dispenser and went to use it, ahead of taking my pick of the early season mandarins.
After a second or two, I noticed that nothing was emerging, not even a final COVID-fighting dribble to wet my palm.
As a conscientious type, I detoured to the Service Desk to alert the team that the dispenser was empty, but it got me thinking.
The major retailers have expended considerable effort of late, reassuring shoppers of the enhanced hygiene standards they can expect in-store, building confidence that we can safely visit during the pandemic.
My local branch delivered on many other aspects – one-way entrance into the store, extra staff roaming the floor, clear screens in front of the checkouts and distancing stickers in the self-scan queue.
However, my experience was that the dispenser was empty when I needed it, so much of the carefully crafted reassurance had been wasted.
It’s a great reminder of the truism to ‘do what you say’ in any customer service environment. This can simply mean delivering on the basics, every time. Do this, and you build customer confidence that they can reliably expect certain things to happen.
So, if you’re a car dealership and you say that you’ll wash every vehicle after a service, that’s what you need to do.
Or, if you offer home delivery and say that the customer will get a call or text 2hrs before their product arrives, make sure that this happens.
Building trust by repeatedly delivering on your promises should mean that customers are more willing to listen – and hopefully forgive - when there is an issue, or something needs to be done differently.
In the car washing example, drought restrictions, as well as staffing challenges during COVID-19, may have limited what could be delivered.
At times like this, it’s important to proactively alert customers that you’re unable to provide the expected service. In the vast majority of cases, customers will understand, particularly if they are being affected by the same issues:
“Love the whole service - just a shame my car couldn’t get cleaned due to COVID-19 but that’s understandable.”
“Car not cleaned at dealership due to covid-19 requirements but a voucher to use later was provided. Excellent.”
“In the current COVID-19 climate, a number of courtesy options were not able to be offered but this was advised when booking the service”
The next time I visited my supermarket, the hand sanitiser dispenser worked, as it did on the subsequent visit, so perhaps it was a one-off shortcoming.
But my experience was a salutary reminder of the need for consistency – customers do notice lapses, which can then undermine their confidence in more complex offerings.
To find out how you can deliver exceptional customer experiences and ensure you're delivering on consistency, contact us today and discover how our Voice of Customer program HX Connect can help you.
* An outstanding advertising slogan, used by UK wood treatment brand Ronseal for over 25 years. Now that’s consistent!