Show customers how much you appreciate them and want to solve their problems economically.
When you don’t use ‘best practice’ you stay in a vulnerable position
By taking a customer-first approach and consistently exceeding their wants and needs and solving their problems and frustrations you are much more likely to build a great business that is respected. Your approach should never be a ‘them and us’ approach.
Particularly in SMEs, great customer service is not only a good business strategy, it is the biggest and most important competitive advantage you can create, particularly when you are competing with larger businesses and corporations.
Understand how far to move your ‘free line’. What can you afford to give your customers for free in order to solve their problems and frustrations? However, if personal relationships with customers are not great, moving the free line won’t count for much.
Create a happy working environment. Happy people and customer satisfaction go hand in hand. Customers can tell when things are not going well and great customer service can only come from happy people. Perhaps more attention needs to be paid to building a more flexible working environment to satisfy the best people.
Hire customer-centric employees and volunteers. It’s easy to find people with the skills to service a customer, but it can be exceptionally hard to find people with the right personality to provide outstanding customer service.
Train and take out the strain. Employees and volunteers will not perform well and deliver the type of service customers want and need if they don’t know how to do it. Train them to solve customer problems and frustrations and to do whatever it takes to do so.
“Innovation and best practices can be sown throughout an organisation, but only when they fall on fertile ground. Marcus Buckingham
Avoid work overload. If your people and resources are overloaded all the time it will make it difficult to provide great customer service. Re-engineer your technology systems and processes and bring them up to speed.
Keep the critical spare parts in stock. Nothing will lead quicker to undoing great customer service than you not having in stock the small critical part that they need. Sure you don’t need to stock all the parts of a vehicle, but a fan belt would be critical.
Regular follow-up is critical. A timely email or phone call after a sale or the resolution of a customer service issue will drive home the message that the people and the business really care about customer service.
Customer experience. Spend time with your customers to clearly understand the experiences they have with your people and the business and its products and services. Don’t rely on your own understanding, you must really understand how to improve you customer’s experiences if you want them to return again and again.
Action orientation. There can be nothing customers like better than dealing with people who are action orientated and act promptly on their requests.
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While it can take years to build a great team to deliver outstanding customer service, it can be ruined overnight without constantly enhancing your best practices.
Once you’ve put together your best team, train them to live the core values of the company, which are hopefully congruent with them and the customer base.
Empowerment is a critical issue. If you don’t trust your employees and volunteers to deliver great customer service, it will never happen. Keep in mind that your best practices may not be best practices.