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We constantly hear about businesses delivering poor customer service, whether it’s a product that didn’t meet expectations, late delivery of a product, unreturned emails, or a no show for appointments—the list goes on.
Bad customer service will affect your businesses reputation, customer loyalty, and in turn your profits.
We all get busy and businesses are often caught up in their own products, services, and processes. To keep the wheels in motion something has to give. Unfortunately, this is often at the expense of providing a good customer experience.
“Every company’s greatest assets are its customers, because without customers there is no company,” Michael LeBoeuf, business author and former management professor.
So how can businesses provide good customer service?
Empower Your Employees to Deliver
There’s nothing worse than calling a business and being transferred to five different people, each of whom you have to explain your problem to, before your question is answered. This definitely isn’t a positive customer experience, leaving the customer frustrated and creates the impression that the business does not understand its own products and services. Employees should be trained to understand all aspects of the business. At a minimum, employees should at least be able to direct customers to a trained specialist in the appropriate area to answer customers’ questions.
For your business to achieve excellence in customer service, it must be embedded in your business culture and demonstrated from the top down. Your employees are at the front line of your business. If you treat your employees well and respect and value them, they will deliver for you.
“Treat your employees the way you want your customers treated,” Shep Hyken, author and customer service speaker.
Do your employees know what is expected of them in terms of customer service delivery? Do your business processes allow employees the opportunity to deliver excellent customer service?
Employees adapt and deliver according to what is accepted by the business. High-performing customer service employees will be less likely to continue to deliver high-performing results in an organization where the business culture does not reflect high customer service. They will either be frustrated that they are the only one delivering this level of service and leave, or they won’t bother to deliver that service as they feel it isn’t valued or required.
On the other hand, low-performing customer service employees won’t fit in a business culture that demands a high level of customer service, as they would be required to lift their performance or be asked to leave.
Set Standards for Customer Service and Monitor Performance
To deliver excellent customer service, a customer service standard needs to be implemented. This will ensure that all employees deliver the same level of service and that these standards are a benchmark to monitor performance and encourage improvement.
Looking at your sales process and all of the customer touch points is a great place to start. Document what you do at each step in the process and how you deal with customers currently.
Research your customers and competition to understand what your customers’ needs and wants are. From here, you can develop a list of measurable objectives to aim for excellent customer service.
Some examples include:
- Responding to emails and returning phone messages within 24 hours.
- Processing orders within one week.
- Greeting each customer that enters your store.
- Following up each sale with a phone call.
- Sending customers birthday cards.
- Delivering on what you have promised, in the time you have promised.
Once you have developed a customer service standard, it needs to be communicated to all employees, implemented, monitored, and improved.
Responding to Feedback and Complaints
We are all human, and mistakes can even happen in the highest performing business. Part of delivering a good customer experience is measured on how you deal with complaints or constructive feedback. It is important to ensure that you always reply to feedback or complaints; customers like to know that you have acted on their feedback. It’s also a good idea to give customers a way to provide feedback to your business.
No matter the size of your business or what products or services you provide, offering excellent customer service is a good strategy for success. First impressions count and will often determine a customer’s future relationship with your business. Great customer service is about developing customer relationships and providing clear communication with your customers.
“If you make a sale, you can make a living. If you make an investment of time and good service in a customer, you can make a fortune,” Jim Rohn, author and motivational speaker.
Article written by Michelle Tolhurst