Keys to Achieving Excellence in Customer Service

May 16, 2018 by  

Customer satisfaction is essential to the building of a successful, growing, and long-lasting business, so what can you do to ensure that your company is providing good customer service?

Here are 4 elements to consider when establishing or improving the customer service within your business:
1) the Customer Desires & Needs
Everyone makes daily purchasing decisions, therefore, everyone is actually a potential customer. Understanding the desires, concerns, and needs of your customers prepares your customer service representatives with the necessary information to assist in the most effective manner. In fact, this knowledge gives them the ability to provide whatever your customer needs to be a happy, contented and then a returning customer.  In order to learn those important issues you mush train your employees to practice Active Listening.

2) Your Service Culture
Customer service is an important aspect of every employee’s job. Each and every customer service contact has the potential to gain repeat business or drive it away. Therefore, selecting the best people to deal with your customers is extremely important. Every organization wants to avoid negative publicity, especially today with social media able to make issues go viral in a matter of minutes! If that happens, it can easily and quickly damage your business reputation. Being cognizant of this issue can help you to avoid this issue as it can be difficult to recover from that sort of attack.

3) Trust & Loyalty
Your biggest source of business is repeat customers and it costs much more to acquire a new one. So, it is essential to institute practices that help to maintain your existing ones. Customers like to feel special and can be easily lost if they sense that you don’t care much about them. A single negative experience can cost you a customer. In both good times and bad, the long-term value of a customer is much greater than a series of single transactions from one-time customers. Here is one other important thing to remember…..if something does go wrong, that is when you have to do something outstanding to fix it so that the customer will be more likely to remember how you fixed the problem rather than the problem itself. In addition, if what happened was something that you were not aware of, such as a failure of a product, you should also thank the customer for bringing this issue to your attention.

4) Customer Service Employees
Frontline employees are the ones who portray the image of your company in the eyes of the consumer. Not all employees necessarily value the importance of excellent and consistent customer service. Therefore, it is extremely important to evaluate the behaviors, attitudes, and skills of the individuals who work for you to determine who is the most capable of holding a customer-facing position and then invest in appropriate training for those people. A single customer poor encounter with an employee can make or break a sale. In addition, if your culture is one that appreciates, supports and encourages your employees, they will be more likely to treat your customers with the same respect and courtesy.

In the end, meeting your customers’ expectations can lead to customer satisfaction; however, in today’s competitive marketplace going above and beyond expectations will ensure customer satisfaction. Companies with poor customer service risk losing current and potential customers. However, acknowledging and focusing on the key elements described above will enable your business to develop a good plan that will provide your business with excellent, consistent, and memorable customer service.

Seven Strategies for Keeping Angry Customers

April 4, 2018 by  

I believe you can salvage a relationship with an angry customer and turn them into a happy one depending on how you handle the situation.  Probably the most important key here is to practice Active Listening so that you can be sure that you clearly understand what the problem is before trying to make them happy.

Here are 7 ways to keep angry customers from storming out of your business and never returning:

1. Realize the customer’s time is valuable. If you put the customer on hold and transfer them three different times, you are going to make them angrier with each transfer. If that is what happens often you need to fix this system. It is better to solve the problem quickly and efficiently or direct the customer to someone who can. This can only be done if all your employees understand the chain of command and are empowered to solve problems. Employees should also know exactly who to refer problem customers to if it is beyond their scope and abilities.

2. Never outsource your customer service. Your customers want to be helped by people with good language skills so that they feel understood and that their issue will be handled effectively and efficiently. This, unfortunately, is not likely if the person is not even in the country and if English is not their first language.

3. Show empathy. Of course you must stay calm, however, you must sincerely show empathy for their situation and be ready and able to assist them quickly and effectively because they feel that they are in crisis and you need to fix it! In addition, never tell the customer to calm down as that will only escalate the exchange. Remember, this is not about you, it is about them!

4. Be Present on Social Media. Today, you must monitor your business on social media or you could be missing a big opportunity. Most people today find everything on the internet and consult social media for many of their needs. In addition, if they are unhappy about something they can also state that on social media. You need to have someone in your company actively updating your company profiles, website, and the information you post there. You should also be watching for comments good and bad about your business to see if you need to emphasize or change anything and then post that on the sites.

5. Over deliver, if possible. Once you have angered a customer, you need to do something outstanding in order to fix the relationship. You want the customer to remember how you fixed the problem rather than the problem itself. However, do not promise something you cannot deliver!

6. Don’t just say you will get back to the customer. Broken promises will only make the customer angrier. If you say you will get back to them this afternoon or tomorrow morning, make sure that you or whoever can fix the situation, does so. There is nothing worse than an unfulfilled expectation, especially after there has been some sort of issue that needed to be resolved.

7. Fix unreasonable policies. You can avoid angry customers in the first place if you figure out what is wrong with your process. Every organization needs to have policies and procedures, however, in some situations, the customer service people need to be given some flexibility with those policies, especially if they do not make sense in a particular situation. You, of course, cannot keep giving away the store, however, you do want to ask what will make them happy and try your best to deliver as much of what they are seeking as is reasonably possible.

So, you have an angry customer you might want to consider the above-described approaches to make sure that you can resolve their issue in a way that will allow you to keep them as a customer rather than chase them away. In today’s very competitive business world you want to make sure that your organization has the skills and strategies to deal effectively with problems of any sort with a win/win outcome.

5 Key Ways to Ensure Good Customer Service Outcomes

August 22, 2017 by  

To effectively cater to your customers’ wants and needs, it is very important to have specific customer service etiquette, delivery, and consistency in how your customers are treated. In addition, in today’s very competitive world, staying ahead of the crowd is pretty difficult so one of the main ways to do so is by delivering consist, excellent customer service experiences.

Here are five ways to maintain high customer service outcomes:

1. Have organization-specific guidelines and policies. When hiring and managing customer service employees, it is crucial to outline and specify guidelines that are needed and expected to succeed in that position. Different organizations and positions require different customer service characteristics. For example, the customer service skills needed for a fine dining restaurant are different than those of a bank. Therefore it is essential to create a detailed job description outlining the roles and responsibilities as well as a list of the qualifications necessary to fulfill this position effectively.

2. Use customer service assessments.
Customer service employees represent the face and brand of your organization, so it is extremely important to hire individuals that reflect your organization’s core values, aims, and beliefs. Customer service assessments reveal whether a candidate will be right for your specific needs. For example, these surveys measure how well a person fits the behaviors and characteristics of a specific customer service position and can be industry-specific for hospitality, healthcare, financial services, and retail. This sort of tool can be most helpful in determining if a person will fit into your culture.

3. Be experts.
In customer service positions, it is imperative that one is able to show your customers that you have extensive product knowledge. No matter what industry you are in, competition is steep and customers are faced with many options. In order to have a competitive edge, you want to make sure that every customer service representative has the information and resources needed to show customers they are valued, respected, and cared for.

4. Get direct feedback from customers.
To really know what customers want, direct reports and customer surveys are certainly helpful. Customer surveys can reveal what customer service techniques worked and what did not. This is important to know when you are trying to build loyal, long lasting customer relationships. Remember, it is all about what the customer wants and needs, and how you can best accommodate them that will help to make your business stand out from the competition.

5. Offer employees recognition and rewards.
Employee recognition is a key motivator for customer service employees. Whether it is an employee-of-the-month bonus or an announcement during a team meeting, customer service employees should know they are valued and respected, just like your customers.

If you follow these customer service tips, they should help to raise your customer loyalty and service performance. Remember, it is much easier to please and keep current customers than it is to get new ones and repeat business from happy customers can lead to referral business as well.

How Can you Win Customer Loyalty?

April 28, 2017 by  

Very few businesses amaze and delight their customers and those that do, really stand out. Being innovative is one way to stand out from the crowd, however, in most businesses, our competitors soon copy our innovation and that levels the playing field. The only way to truly stand out and stay ahead of the herd is to win customer loyalty by providing outstanding and memorable customer service. This is the only sustainable competitive advantage that really matters and will differentiate you from the competition.

Here are 10 simple and easy ways to provide consistent and outstanding service to your customers:

1. Adopt a customer-service mindset
Try to stop thinking just about the business you are in and start realizing that providing customer service is essential to your survival and success. Start understanding that you are in the customer service business and happen to sell whatever your products or services are. This sort of mindset has to start at the top and be committed to by the upper echelon. They then need to model it until it becomes the mindset of the entire business.

2. Be proactive
That will require you and your team to make note of your customers’ preferences and take every opportunity to cater to them. You can keep files on your customers in order to remember those preferences and call when their favourite product comes in or you are planning a promotion for something they use regularly, etc.

3. Remember the names of your customers/clients
The sweetest sound to anyone’s ears is their name. you will make a very positive impression on your customers if you can address them by their name when they come into your establishment or when they call, etc.

4. Look the part
Dress professionally and accessorize your fashion statement with a smile. Remember what Denis Waitley wrote: “A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.” In any event, people will react more positively to someone with a smile on their face rather than someone who looks angry, upset, or stern. Be sure your attire is clean, pressed, and appropriate for your industry and customer base.

5. Involve your customers in your service program
Provide simple, easy tools that will encourage your customers to give you suggestions that could improve your service or product line. Then truly listen to their ideas and let them know that their opinions are valued.

6. Be punctual
If you set a meeting time of 2 pm then be sure to move heaven and earth to make that happen as promised. Phone as early as possible if events conspire to make it impossible for you to maintain your schedule. No one likes to feel that their time has been wasted as we are all busy!

7. Policies & procedures
Create policies and procedures that are customer-friendly and then infuse these elements into the culture of your business in order for there to be consistency in how all customers are treated:
• how should phone calls be answered?
• what response time is acceptable for emails?
• who pays the postage for returned products?
• do you provide a toll-free phone number?
• how do you process warranty claims?
• how does your business say ‘thank you’

8. Empower employees by giving them autonomy
Give your employees the authority to work around policies that are getting in the way of a satisfied customer.

9. Handle complaints in a timely fashion
Respond rapidly to customer complaints. Acknowledge the issue at hand and take responsibility for fixing it. Don’t be defensive or just quote policy, rather offer a way to make them happy. Bite your tongue, actively listen, and allow them to vent. Then ask them what would make them happy. Finally, do what it takes to regain their trust because the cost of gaining a new customer is many times the cost of simply regaining lost trust.

10. Measure customer sentiment
Use conversations, feedback forms, and surveys to gauge the quality of your customers’ experiences. Do they feel they are receiving your value proposition? If not, what’s getting in the way? Then, be sure to fix it!

Final thought…..
These 10 ideas can give you simple ways to build an outstanding customer service program without huge costs.
But you must remember that today social media and customer review websites have placed enormous power in the hands of your customers. They now have a “megaphone” to tell the world about your service. You can get it right and build loyal relationships or you can get it wrong and become irrelevant in your industry and be on your way to obscurity.

So, be a customer service champ, that is the way to enhance your business and keep you ahead of your competition!

How to Achieve Customer Loyalty & Ensure the Success of your Business

July 8, 2015 by  

Customer loyalty is most important to the longevity of any business and in today’s very competitive market place is essential to the success of every business.  There are several ways this can be achieved. Most importantly it begins with excellent, consistent customer service.

This can be achieved by doing the following:
1. Identify your market
2. Determine whether or not they connect to your brand
3. Establish and maintain meaningful relationships with your customers
4. Provide your market with what they are looking for

Time will prove whether or not an organization has a strong, identifiable brand and produces outstanding, high quality products or services which have earned not only the respect and admiration of the marketplace but also within their own industry.
Referral and repeat business further confirms the satisfaction of an organization’s customers.
Consistency in customer contacts and the ability to read the market will both attract new and repeat business….a key to long term success!
Appropriate systems need to be developed and established to ensure the consistency of good customer service which helps ensure that the company can continue to keep those relationships strong, meaningful and long lasting.
Customer contacts with sales and service must all be positive, consistent, and memorable. Especially when there is a problem!  In fact, that is when the outcome must be “gaspworthy” for the customer so that they will remember the solution rather than the problem itself.

How are can we accomplish that?
We can achieve that goal by employing the following:
 1. Employ a welcoming approach with customers
 2. Meet customer expectations by first determining what those expectations may be (employ active listening!)
 3. Go the “extra mile”…do something the customer does not expect
 4. Anticipate problems and have possible solutions ready to be implemented….conduct “pre-mortems”
 5. Have the ability to create positive outcomes from any difficult situation
 6. Employ effective communication techniques and open lines of communication among team members so that together they can deliver consistent excellent customer service.

The happier and more satisfied your customers are, the more likely they are to return to your business and recommend you to others!

8 Tips for Consistent Good Customer Service

December 30, 2014 by  

Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. You can offer promotions and reduce prices to attract new customers, however unless you can encourage some of those customers to come back, your business won’t be profitable for long.

Good customer service is all about retaining customers for repeat business and referrals. It is also about sending them away happy – if they do not leave feeling satisfied, customer service is a misnomer. You want them sharing positive feedback about your business with others, who may then be enticed to try your product or service for themselves and in turn also become repeat customers.

The essence of good customer service is forming a solid relationship with customers – one that the individual customer feels he would like to retain and grow.
How do you go about forming such a relationship? By remembering the one true secret of good customer service and acting accordingly; “You will be judged by what you do, not what you say.” Providing good customer service IS a simple thing.

If you truly want to have good consistent customer service, all you have to do is ensure that your business consistently does the following:

1) Always answer your phone.
Have call forwarding, an answering service, or staff if you necessary. But make sure that someone is picking up the phone when a customer calls your business. People who call want to talk to a live person, not an automated message taking device.

2) Don’t make promises unless you will keep them.
Reliability is one of the main keys to this consistency. If you say, “Your new unit will be ready for occupancy on Tuesday”, make sure it is ready on Tuesday. Otherwise, don’t promise it. The same rule applies to appointments, deliveries, etc. Nothing annoys customers more broken promises.

3) Listen to your customers.
Is there anything more exasperating than telling someone what you want or what your problem is and then discovering that that person hasn’t been paying attention and needs to have it explained again? The most important skill you require for consistent good customer service and long term meaningful relationships: active listening! Allow your customer to talk, show them that you are listening by making the appropriate responses, and ultimately suggesting possible solutions to their problem or directly addressing the concerns expressed to you.

4) Deal with complaints.
No one likes hearing complaints, however if you give the complaint your attention, you may be able to please the person and that will indicate your willingness to provide good customer service…..that will make you memorable in a positive way and possibly put your business ahead of the competition!

5) Be helpful – even if there’s no immediate profit in it.
Doing something nice for a customer to solve a simple problem will leave a very favourable impression on that person, especially if you do it for free. Then when they actually need something in that realm they will be most likely to think of you and what you offer because the memory is positive.

6) Train your staff to be always helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable.
Do it yourself or hire someone to train your staff so that they are all dealing with issues in the same consistent manner achieving positive win/win outcomes. Emphasize the importance good consistent customer service and what they should be doing to accomplish it. Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough information and the power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so they can be flexible enough with company policy to provide a solution that allows the customer to walk away happy.

7) Take the extra step.
If someone is looking for an item in your establishment, don’t just tell them: “It’s in Aisle 3”, rather take them to the item and see if they need anything else. Whatever that extra step may be, be sure you and your staff do it! People notice when someone makes an extra effort and will be likely to tell others about that pleasant experience.

8) Throw in something extra.
It could be a coupon for a future discount, additional information or a demonstration on how to use the product, or a genuine smile. Human beings love to end up with more than they expect. It does not have to be anything big to be effective. An art framer could attach a package of picture hangers to the back of every picture framed……a small thing, but greatly appreciated.

If you employ these 8 simple tips regularly, your business will become known for its consistent good customer service. The interesting twist about good customer service is eventually it will attract more new customers than promotions and price cutting!