You may have read the recent news about the maiden voyage of the London-Glasgow sleeper service. It wasn’t quite the debut anyone had hoped for. The 140 passengers on the train experienced booking mix ups, water leaks into the cabins and a delayed driver. This is the kind of experience that can make or break a brand, especially as disgruntled customers frequently turn to Twitter and Facebook to make their frustrations known within a matter of minutes.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the sleeper service. Despite reams of angry tweets and some negative press, we need to remember that a lot of customers actually left feeling positive about their experience. Why? Because diligent and helpful train staff were there to help them through their journey, answering questions and generally being on hand.
Sounds pretty simple right? Speaking to staff face to face can alleviate all manner of customer pain points. But there are still so many brands that don’t get this right. In this piece, I’ll delve into how brands can deliver a seamless customer experience – one that balances technology with the human touch.
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Listen to the feedback
In the example of the Caledonian Sleeper – passengers felt listened to despite teething problems. Reports showed that passengers recognised the effort that had gone into the upgrade of the service, enjoying the positive elements such as oven-cooked meals, lockers and more legroom. They clearly felt their past feedback had been listened to and were therefore more understanding of the current shortcomings.
This just shows the power or listening to basic feedback and acting on it. This can help your brand retain a customer base and instill more patience and understanding in your customers if a future issue does arise. Not only this, according to our own data, improving customer service now outranks net profit and revenue growth as a business priority. Listening to feedback is a strategic imperative – not a ‘nice to have’.
Enable staff to deal with the hiccups
Chatbot and AI technology is undoubtedly streamlining the customer experience journey for many brands – but human touch still remains crucial. Investing in technology accounts for quicker, simpler and more flexible service for your customers, but human staff should still be empowered and trained to deal with customer queries and complaints.
In the case of the Caledonian Sleeper, passengers overall praised train staff for how they dealt with the many issues on their journey. Staff were reported to be cheerful and resilient as they juggled with the numerous mishaps. They passed out compensation forms and even went as far as to book taxis for customers who missed connections. The social media team was also incredibly active – responding to as many tweets as they could as fast as they could.
By all means embrace the many new and exciting technologies which are out there – but don’t let this be at the expense of investing in your team. Our ‘The Customer-Centric Organisation’ report found that 78% of businesses consider employee attitudes as the main vehicle to ultimately improve customer engagement. Your people are you best advocates.
The human touch can power you forward
Delays, data breaches, missed deliveries – no matter what your brand and your service, hiccups are going to happen. But when they do, a well trained and motivated customer experience team can help to keep customers feeling listened to and valued.
As organisations increasingly take a multi-channel approach to customer experience, examining how people interact with them digitally and by phone, this Caledonian Sleeper example is a timely reminder of how neglecting face-face interactions can be very damaging. It reveals the importance of harnessing a customer-centric culture so that when things go wrong, the company has a motivated and well-trained workforce to leave a long-lasting positive impression.
Simon Brennan, VP Sales at EngageHub