Customer Service

This week we'll begin a new series over total Customer Service. Customer service seems pretty self-explanatory, but you'd be surprised how many places get it wrong. Customer service is the way you treat the people who support your company. These can be paying customers (external customers) or staff members (internal customers). The customer's perception of that service is what bring them back to you for repeated service.

People who provide good customer service earn psychological benefits in addition to any rewards offered by their company. If you are unhappy in your job, take an objective look at the kind of service you are giving. In almost any case, your job satisfaction mirrors the satisfaction people feel when doing business with you. Giving poor service is a way of beating yourself up.

The first step in the direction of great customer service is getting down the basics. We have identified six critical elements for customer service.

  1. A customer service focus: businesses that provide good customer service make it a top priority. They realize that it is one of, if not the, most important aspect of good business. They don't put it on the backburner to only address it when issues arise, they take the bull by the horns and are proactive with customer service.
  2. Defined within your organization: customer service should be ingrained within the organization as a fluid philosophy, and not simply as a policy, department, or program.
  3. Given life by the members of the organization: customer service is something everybody must buy into. The customers will engage with various employees, but should have a great customer experience regardless of who they speak with.
  4. Be a problem solver: good customer service isn't one-size-fits-all and the customer isn't always right. Members of the organization must be able to handle any situation with tact and care to come up with a solution that works best for everybody.
  5. Measure it: you should always track and measure your customer service. Set goals that you believe will directly be impacted by good customer service, such as customer retention and referral rates. You can also ask customers to fill out surveys based on their experience doing business with your company.
  6. Reinforce it: a problem a lot of companies fall into once they've begun to improve their customer service is not continually reinforcing it. Customer service is something that must be continually cultivated.

The nest step in great customer service is meeting and managing expectations. Every individual's needs are important. Each customer wants to be treated like they are your only customer. They know that isn't true, just as well as you do, but they still want that kind of attention. A service-oriented philosophy says that you are there for your customers. Here are some ways to meet your customers' expectations.

  • If the phone is ringing, make sure someone answers it. If no one is available then a voice prompt will suffice (provided that it is working properly). People appreciate talking to people when they call to get service.
  • When a customer enters your premises, greet them as though you are happy to see them. Don't leave someone standing awkwardly.
  • Be present for your customer. Your body language and tone of voice, whether you are on the phone or in person, needs to let your customer know that you want to be there and you are pleased to serve them.

If you put what we've covered here today into practice you'll start to see a positive change in your customer service before you know it.