Using Behavioral Science to Improve Customer Service

Behavioral science to improve customer service

Over the years, I have read several articles on using what is known about human behavior to improve customer satisfaction.  I am surprised that more companies have not adopted this approach to create a better service experience.  Based on research done in a health care environment, a new article appearing in the McKinsey Quarterly highlights how behavioral science can be effectively used to create better patient experiences.  While the research was conducted in healthcare, I suspect that many of these actions apply to some industries.  I want to translate some of their actions into what they may mean in an industrial service setting.

The key actions they noted are:

  • Get bad experiences over early.  In many service engagements, there are bad experiences.  You have to tell the owner of the equipment being service that significant repairs are needed and they will be costly.  Don't wait!  Let the customer know as early as possible in the service engagement.
  • Break up pleasure and pain.  Sometimes this is hard to do.  Sometimes it is also quite simple.  For example, if the service requires significant work, effort and cost (the pain for the customer) make certain the service is done within a time frame and to a quality level that meets or exceeds the customer's expectations (pleasure).
  • Finish strongly.  The finish is the last thing the customer remembers.  Make it strong.  I know of one industrial service company that when they went out to service material handling equipment always did a little paint touch up on the equipment.  There was no charge for the service, it helped to improve the appearance of the equipment, AND the customer remembered it.  This company had very loyal customers.
  • Give customers a choice.  Generally, there is more than one option for servicing something.  If there are multiple options, make certain the customer is aware of them, give the pros and cons of each and let the customer decide.  If the customer decides then the buy-in is there.
  • Let customers stick to their habits.  Let's face it, few people like to change their ingrained habits very much.  When I take my car in for repair I want to work with the same service manager each time.  If he is on vacation, I am likely to wait until he returns.  It is my habit.  Likewise, be aware of your customers' habits.  It could be such things as the degree of detail they want (or don't want) on the invoice.  It might be service punctuality (if you say 9:00 am, be there are 9:00 am).

Some things to consider as you look for ways to improve service and make your customers even more loyal.  Let me know what you think!

 


Lynn Daniel, President, The Daniel Group

 

 

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