One of the things that always push my buttons when shopping for food, buying new outfits, going for a medical appointment, dealing with organisations, or exploring new restaurants is the way customers are treated. I always notice when a place of business does a great job of welcoming its guest and treating them with the utmost respect. It always makes me smile and make a note to file a positive review on the service. More than I would like to admit, I have been to several places of business that are known for being great to only be greatly disappointed at their staff’s lack of respect and courtesy. Once again, notes are taken, and a negative review is written and submitted to various social networks. I have never understood being in business with negative attitudes toward the customers that are paying money to be served well. Have you ever been the recipient of negative customer service?
What exactly is customer service? Customer service is the practice of providing existing and potential customers with support to enhance their satisfaction with the company and its products or services. One of the early lessons in my career was learning to treat everyone with the same respect. It doesn’t matter if someone is the president of a bank, a top surgeon, or a janitor, they deserve to be treated as an individual. No one should be defined by the position they may be working in, but someone should be respected.
There are several steps to developing a good customer service strategy. When a venue has great customer service, happy customers will spread the word which will increase business, promote the product or brand, and revenue. In my profession of marketing, we call it Word of Mouth marketing or WOM. If one person likes something about your service, brand, or business they will tell their friends and anyone that will listen. If they were mistreated or treated poorly at an establishment, they will also tell everyone they know not to visit your establishment. It really is that simple. I have never understood why someone would start a business only to provide poor customer service.
- Create a strong Customer Service Vision. One step in creating a strategy is communicating the customer service vision to staff and team members. Successful organizations understand the importance of investing the time and energy to define their vision, mission, and values. Sharing the vision will help team members to provide a better customer service experience than an organisation that leaves the front-line employees untrained and unprepared in dealing with customer issues and concerns.
- Ascertain Customer Needs. It’s impossible to comprehend the needs of customers without understanding what customers desire. Many organisations fail and waste valuable resources creating products and services that they thought the customer wanted instead of asking them directly or via surveys. It’s quite simple to develop a plan to discover what customers or clients want instead of guessing. Initially, it would be great to conduct a conversation to uncover the perception of customers of the services being provided. This process can be conducted through focus groups, satisfaction surveys, or customer comment cards, leading to the development of a plan to meet and exceed customer/client expectations. Remember, customer needs and expectations can be a moving target. What we want today will be very different from what we may desire a year or even five years down the path.
- Hire the Best Team. Once you get to know your clients or customers, the next step is hiring the best staff with your customers/clients in mind. Staff members should be screened to ensure they possess the personality and skillset to support a strong customer service environment. Skills can be taught but teaching someone to have a positive attitude and personality can be challenging. It may be hard to believe, but not everyone can interact with customers.
- Setting Goals for Good Customer Service. After evaluating customer/client needs and expectations, it’s time to create goals for achieving customer satisfaction. Team members need to understand what the target is so they can help the organisation or agency to reach its corporate goals and objectives.
- Perfect on Service Skills. When hiring the best team, your staff will have a natural ability to serve your clients and customers well. Remember, it’s essential for your team members to know your expectations. For example, training should enlighten staff on how to behave in every situation and provide educational tools to help them understand how to respond to their customers/clients.
- Accountability is Key. Everyone should understand how their service to the customer or client affects the organisation’s overall performance and need to be held accountable for achieving client satisfaction goals. Every agency should provide a comprehensive performance management system of performance appraisals.
- Reward & Recognize Good Service. Staff members need positive reinforcement and should be rewarded when they demonstrate a strong customer service culture. It helps to solicit feedback from clients/customers to help in identifying your greatest service providers and reward them with gift cards, a surprise bonus, or lunch or dinner on you. Possessing a positive vision and strategy for customer service is a critical component of the success of every business. Good customer service separates successful businesses from the rest.
Share with us how your business or organisation excels at providing the best customer service to your customers. For more information, contact us at Promotions West where we provide creative strategies through innovative communications.