Edition 24

5 minutes on the value of customer service

22nd June 2010 By Lee Martin no comments

Lee Martin, the Managing Director of Toojays Training & HR Consultancy looks at how valuable customer service is, and what steps you can take to change.

Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. However, in a competitive climate where costs and services are very similar, it is imperative to realise that every aspect of your business can impact on your customer’s experience, not just those which are face to face. A company can provide a comprehensive range of services for its customers. Unless you have a product or a service where you have the monopoly market, you need to be able to offer that “something” extra to distinguish yourself from the competition. A customer centric strategy can be the solution.

Many seek to provide exceptional customer service but few actually, constantly deliver it, it doesn’t just happen. It is the result of an intentional effort on the part of a company’s owner and its staff to provide a second to none service where every customer feels important and valued. Research has shown that the majority of customers stop doing business with a company due to the attitude or indifference of its employees towards them. So, how exactly can you ensure that you’re providing excellent customer service every single time?

Treat your customer as a person, not a number.

As welcoming as it is to gain new customers, make sure you have a solid customer retention strategy in place. Part of this can be as simple as acknowledging they have purchased from you before. You may not remember their name, nor what they bought, but acknowledging that they have done business with you previously goes a long way towards making them feel valued and appreciated.

Find out the needs of your customer

For a customer facing employee, a major part of the job is determining the requirements of your customer so that they make the most appropriate and relevant purchase for them. Any single purchase can be a major investment. Take the time to ascertain the exact specifications of what your customer is looking for so they can be confident and content with their subsequent purchase. Make a commitment to always learn what your customers want and they will come back time and time again.

Make it easy for your customers to buy from you

Be the company where customers find the staff accessible when they need them.  Make it easy for your customers to contact you, provide them with a point of contact at all times so they can contact the company easily with any questions or concerns they may have. In today’s world of automated switchboards, people like being able to speak to an actual person. Provide an efficient and hassle free experience each and every time with easy to use processes. Exhibit professionalism, efficiency and politeness at all times. Commit to consistently high levels of customer service and your company will become renowned for its customer focused service.

Exceed the customer’s expectations each and every time

Providing not just good service, but memorable service is a key component of an effective retention strategy. Today, consumers’ expectations are higher than ever and if you fail to deliver, you risk losing your customer. If you say you’re going to do something, make sure you do it, even if it is a simple phone call. One of the quickest ways to lose your customer’s confidence is by not following-though or late delivering a service or product without advance notification. If a delay is unavoidable, try and provide an interim solution for the customer.

Have empathy for your customer

It is vital to place yourself in the shoes of the customer, especially when a difficult situation may arise. So when you have an agitated customer in front of you, understand that they are not having a go at you but may have a pressing need to make their purchase or be under some other indirect pressure. When you see that it is the situation affecting their behaviour rather than their personality, it is easier to work towards a resolution.

Acknowledge and admit if you have made a mistake

If you make a mistake, admit it and concentrate on setting it right straight away. When a customer has a complaint, they want their complaint to be heard, so really listen, not just hear, apologise and tell them the corrective action you will take. For many customers, the fact that you are willing to listen and rectify the error immediately, will go a long way to diffuse the situation and reach a satisfactory solution. What may have started off as a bad experience can be turned into a positive one that a customer will recount to others with a positive spin.

Listen to your customers

Ask your customers for their thoughts on your service. Gain feedback on what they like and don’t like. Conduct surveys and questionnaires and act on the information that you gather. Let your customers know that their opinions are important to you and by listening to them, you can make valuable improvements that will benefit both you and your customers. Keep doing this regularly so that you can ensure that you are remaining up to date with the changing needs of your customers at all times.

Implement an excellent customer service culture

Set customer service standards, define what they are and what they mean to your company. A way of communicating your service to your customer is via a Customer Charter. The Charter underpins your commitment to the ongoing provision of excellent customer service. Formulate a customer care vision. Agree a statement of intent and service guarantees. Review processes, set targets and design ways of measuring performance. Define key employee behaviours and embed the Charter into the culture of your organisation.

Train your staff

Equip your staff with the right skills and behaviours to deliver your customer centric approach and the investment made in them will repay itself tenfold. Keep identifying your customers and their needs, and ensure you make the necessary changes to go above and beyond their expectations of excellent customer service continually and consistently. Retained customers mean repeat business and increased revenue. Ensure your staff understand the importance their front-line roles play with your customers’ satisfaction and become known as a business that takes a genuine interest in its customers.

About Toojays
Toojays Training & HR Consultancy Ltd was established in 2003 by owner and MD Lee Martin. Based in Peterborough, the company delivers Leadership, Management and Team Development solutions to a range of international clients.

Focusing on practical, value adding, experiential learning, Toojays has assisted many large and small organisations with business development interventions. These have produced tangible ROI for all concerned and led to Toojays being an acclaimed and award-winning supplier of development initiatives.

About the author: Lee Martin

Lee Martin is the Managing Director of Toojays Training & HR Consultancy Ltd, a leading provider of Management Development and HR Consultancies services. Founded in 2003, Toojays has over 40 years’ experience in the staff training sector, and provides Management Development, Leadership Training and Team Building Solutions to clients both nationally and internationally. The company offers bespoke L&D solutions to businesses, designed to be cost effective at all time. Lee’s own expert knowledge, skills and understanding engages clients at all levels, and delivers tailored training solutions with real tangible ROI. With a strong commercial awareness, Lee shows great drive and passion, combined with an innovative approach.

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