Effective Strategies is devoted to sharing ideas that can improve your business performance. This issue, we look at the elements of phenomenal customer service.
Properly executed, phenomenal customer service will help you provide a memorable, pleasant purchasing experience to your customer. One of the best things about visiting Texas is the consistently high level of customer service. I didn’t notice it or really appreciate it when I lived in the Dallas area, but I notice it now on my visits there.
Part of the contrast that I notice in Northwest Arkansas, my home for the last 11 years, is largely due to our explosive growth and low unemployment rate. Our local companies can barely keep their companies staffed, let alone hire the ideal employees.
“To me, there are different levels of customer service. Being great at customer service is about choosing to be great at customer service and willing to serve others. Being intuitive at customer service requires listening to and engaging in another person’s interests,” says Theresa Thompson, former President of Welcome to NWA.
Here are five methods to apply to your processes to further raise the bar on your customer service and differentiate your business from your competitors.
Measure and track customer service. You can’t improve anything if you don’t measure your processes. These measurements can become benchmarks for taking your customer service to the next level. Before and during the sale or project, you can track processes like length of time to complete a customer’s order; length of time a customer waits on hold; or number of return customers. However, customer satisfaction after the sale is difficult to track if you don’t follow up. Call your customers within seven days of the sale or project completion to rate their level of customer satisfaction and thank them for their business. Ask them if they were happy with their purchase. Assure them you’d like to be their first choice next time. Find out if there’s a service or product that you don’t offer now that you should.
Understand what your customers consider phenomenal customer service. Customers learn quickly what kind of customer service to expect. If they receive amazing customer service from you the first time, they will expect that same customer service experience every time they do business with you. “What you do is not nearly as important as doing what you do the same way, each and every time,” comments Michael Gerber in the E Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It.
Remember, customer service is what your customer thinks it is, not what you think it is. Here’s the customer service philosophy of Kerry Jensen of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce: “The answer is yes. How may I help you?” What would your customers think if you adopted that same philosophy?
Make doing business with you convenient for them. Can you offer personalized services or take your product or service to your customer instead of having them come to your office? Mary Kay consultants have been doing this for years but many other businesses can do it as well. Jan Lancaster, a loan originator with American Mortgage of Rogers had a busy customer whose only available opportunity to do her loan paperwork was while she was getting a manicure. Jan met her at the beauty salon and filled out the necessary paperwork. What is more inconvenient than packing up your computer to take it in for repair? Matt Worley of Matt the Computer Guy designed his business to make service calls at his customer’s homes so they don’t have to take their computer into a shop for repair. Can you provide such a personalized convenience with any of the components of your business?
Understand that creating customers for life is critical to your marketing strategy. “When we strip away all the executional detail, marketing serves two fundamental, critical business purposes: getting customers and keeping them,” comment Kristin and Steven Ferguson, of KS Ferguson and Company, Inc. “We employ the basic marketing tools of advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, and public relations to help us get customers. But in the everyday hubbub of focusing on customer acquisition, it is easy to lose sight of the business need to actively retain customers.
“Here is the basic business truth: it’s usually cheaper to keep the current customers we have than to find new customers. The promise of service, as in ‘products and services’, is a big part of what we offer as our business proposition. We employ our marketing tools in various combinations to communicate that point — as a promise — when acquiring customers. The delivery of service, though, is what we do to keep them.”
Power up your knowledge and problem-solving ability. Kristen and Steven Ferguson add, “We keep our customers by providing quality products, of course, coupled with impeccable service — by serving our customers’ needs and wants. But there’s more to it! Service isn’t just courtesy and helpfulness — it’s also solving a problem. If there isn’t a problem (no matter how small or trivial), there is no customer at the door. If we solve their problem, we serve and our customers will show their appreciation.” It is as crucial for the entire staff to be knowledgeable and efficient as it is to be polite and prompt.
Did you know many small business owners don’t have a plan for retirement? What are you doing to save for retirement? Share your ideas via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Carrie Perrien Smith
President, Soar With Eagles
Release Your Potential
Soar with Eagles equips individuals and organizations with the tools they need to improve their performance by creating powerful strategies, improving communication, and strengthening employee commitment.
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