The concept of Hoosier Hospitality really took hold when the 2012 Super Bowl was held in Indianapolis. In fact, the people in Indy were so nice that a host from the TODAY show said, “I have never met more people that have wished me a super day, that have offered to open a door, that have offered to give me anything I needed.” After the Super Bowl, Hoosiers have continued to provide top-notch hospitality and even created a training program used in several states. Since every business with customers is in the “people” business, your company can now also benefit from these methods of providing the “super support” that results in customers for life.
First of all, there is a huge difference between receiving outstanding support and receiving average or poor customer support. In fact, news of a bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience. It’s likely you’ve experienced this phenomenon yourself, whether it was complaining about being put on hold for an hour or listening to a friend talk about their struggles to call a company and actually reach a person. Every interaction with a company matters and should be treated as an opportunity to create a positive association with your brand.
One of the best methods of enhancing and addressing concerns when a customer’s expectations are not being met is outlined in the LEARN principle- Listen, Empathize, Apologize, React, and Notify. Below is a breakdown of each term and the five steps to resolve a problem-
- Listen– For you to fully understand a situation, it’s important to listen to what the customer is saying and what they are experiencing. Resist the urge to think of what you’re going to say while they’re talking, and just focus on processing what they’re saying. Being an active listener means giving your full attention and asking clarification questions that show you understand what they’re saying.
- Empathize– Show empathy for their situation and acknowledge their frustration. A lot of the time, people just want to feel like they’re being heard and that someone cares about what they’re experiencing.
- Apologize– Apologizing for a situation or an inconvenience can help to reduce frustration. Being specific with apologies can also help to ease tensions and goes above a simple “I’m sorry.” Additionally, be aware of your phrasing. Saying that you understand can potentially feel dismissive to someone. Instead, consider changing your phrasing to echo back their situation and provide an empathetic apology such as, “I’m sorry about …, that is really frustrating.”
- React– Listening, empathizing, and apologizing helps to build trust. Now, the customer needs to trust you to react accordingly to fully address their issue and make sure you are working towards a solution.
- Notify– Be sure to notify other team members if there is a bigger issue to address. You should also notify the customer as often as possible if there wasn’t an immediate fix. Keeping them in the loop makes them feel like their needs are important. Set an expectation of how frequently you will follow-up until a solution is reached.
The principles of LEARN help to guide a client success team through even the most difficult customer situations. However, a company that throws fish (and became famous for it), created the “Fish Philosophy” that applies to day-to-day client interactions for any company in the “people” business.
- Choose your attitude– The LEARN method is pointless if the customer doesn’t feel like you actually care. Similar to a 5 year old half heartedly apologizing, don’t say all the right things with all the wrong attitude.
- Be there– Provide support where your customers really need it. Don’t give them solutions that “point them to the door;” instead “walk them to the door.” Every interaction matters and creates an impression, so use each of these to your advantage.
- Make their day– This is going above and beyond to truly delight customers. Provider personal interactions and solutions that make your customers feel like they are valued.
- Play– Not everyone can play by throwing fish around, but every company has their own “flying fish.” Play is something universal that unites everyone, so have fun with your company or client milestones. Celebrate achievements. Gamify your processes to increase engagement.
Whether managing day-to-day customer support or helping remediate a client’s problem, providing the extra step of supper support can be the difference between creating a loyal customer for life or creating a chain of complaints. Treating every client interaction with Hoosier Hospitality and the opportunity to wow them ensures the steps towards a positive client relationship.