CEOs and heads of companies know that it is more expensive to attract new customers than to retain your existing clientele. Dissatisfaction over customer service is the number one reason why companies lose clients and most of them leave without complaining or saying why.
Consumers deserve excellent customer service, it is what they are paying for, and it should not rate fanfare or reward. Delivering ‘extraordinary customer service’ however, is the key to assuring customer loyalty, and the type of new business that you cannot put a price on – personal referrals.
Managers must be able to lead by example, starting with the way they relate to their staff. They should be able to demonstrate how highly they value customer service, and clearly outline any procedures and attitudes that employees must practise.
Improving your service policy includes learning about your customers’ values, what the common issues are and determining the best solution for each. Promote teamwork among your staff by communicating your goal of providing extraordinary customer service and plan of action to them.
Human resource management, starting from selection of employees, should be consistent with your customer service standard. And not just the people who regularly interact your clients, buyers and the public – but those who support them in the office, warehouse or transport areas as well. They all represent your company in all its dealings, including with suppliers, and need to support each other to achieve a cohesive company face to the world.
Emphasise qualities such as:
Areas of concern raised by clients will vary and require different courses of action. While it is best to identify potential issues and prescribe solutions in advance, you should still allow your staff considerable leeway to assess a situation and exercise his or her own judgment in choosing the appropriate response.
For example, you can authorize your employees to offer refunds, replacements or vouchers in specific circumstances, without going through a process of technical support, managerial authorisation etc. Fast resolution of a problem will speak volumes and demonstrate to your customer that their concerns have been heard and actioned.
In more complex situations, your clients should feel comfortable in contacting your company, knowing that someone will take ownership of your problem until it is resolved, rather than being transferred between departments.
Another way to get your personnel involved is by making each of them responsible for ensuring that the customer experience is special. An employee who is committed to providing extraordinary customer service will go out of his way to ensure this.
You should also be able to practise a system of rewards for exemplary performance and invest in further training to maintain extraordinary customer service.
Staff who are happy in their work, who understand and embody the company’s service philosophy, make it easy for a business to deliver extraordinary customer service.
Large organisations undertake constant evaluation using data from sales and customer service departments to extract a measure of how effective their procedures are and which areas need improvement. Software and advanced applications are often used to collect, analyze and disseminate the information showing the current state of service and areas that need further improvement.
However, there is no better gauge than returning customers, repeat business, personal referrals, and, as a result, more business.