Everyone in business talks about the need to give great customer service and to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, but what does that mean in practical terms for your business?
Some important questions:
- What does good customer service mean to them?
- What is your current level of customer service?
- Superior - Good - Acceptable - Zero
- Who is responsible for customer service within your business?
Let's look at these questions in more detail.
Talking to your customers; this is not just how you communicate in a marketing sense, but getting to know your customer's business and its needs in more detail. Thinking back to our article in a previous newsletter about up-selling and cross-selling, there could be additional sales opportunities; you might even spot sales opportunities for other businesses that you network or collaborate with. Asking your customers periodically about what they think of your service will help you to improve and will also help you to personalise the service for each customer.
Stay close to your customers to develop good customer relationships and build loyalty.
What does good customer service mean to them? The only person who can truly define good customer service is the customer. It's usually not as simple as being friendly and approachable and flexible in your dealing with your customers; that is the minimum standard. But also:
- Delivering superior service during the actual sales process and after sales is vital. But superior as defined by the customer, so you need to know what that is in their eyes.
- so do you do periodic customer satisfaction surveys: by your webpage, by post, by telephone?
- and does that information help you make improvements? If not you need to change the questions.
- Do you use customer feedback as part of your business improvement strategy or do you simply file the responses?
- Do you meet periodically with your customers to discuss their needs and how you can improve the way you meet them?
So whether your service is superior, good or zero is judged by the customer not you or your team. Superior service is often defined as exceeding customer expectations, but first you have to know what their expectations are.
Be seen as a solution instead of just a supplier.
Who is responsible for customer service within your business?
The short answer is - everybody.
If you employee five people or more than 50 people everybody should be contributing to customer service either directly or indirectly. If that is not true of every single role in your business then what is the purpose of that role?
Successful businesses put the customer at the heart of the business.
Some components of superior customer service:
- Saying yes, but not to the point of making a loss. Superior service is about making your business more competitive and profitable not less. But knowing and accommodating your customers' needs in a positive way is essential.
- Doing at least what you promise you will do and aiming to do more.
- Being flexible: remember markets are dynamic, things change; customer needs change so be aware of those changes and change with your customers.
- Using complaints or dissatisfaction as an opportunity to get closer to superior service, and follow up: learn from it, take action.
- Asking for feedback, doing something about it and involving all the team in the improvement process.
- Getting to really know your customers. The aim is a profitable customer for the long-term. Many businesses do not want mere suppliers they want partners and problem solvers.
- Having your own set of customer service standards and a customer service strategy, that all of the team buy into.
That's all for this month.
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