Customer Service – Re-familiarising with the Basics
Customer service should be the easiest thing to master from a business point of view, but it is often the aspect that gets paid the least attention. If it’s done well, then the reputation of your company will increase dramatically. Do it poorly and you will find it extremely difficult to recover. Being able to successfully deal with the problems your customers have encountered when using your service is a huge attribute to your arsenal as a business, and whatever the experience is – good or bad – it is bound to make a lasting mark.
There are plenty of things to consider when tackling your customer service policy. How easy is it for your clients to get in touch with you? Does your process of operation make it particularly easy or particular hard for the desired results to be achieved? Are the hours you choose to operate suit your business or do they suit the customer?
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to customer service – it often feels like an insurmountable task when faced with rethinking your policy, but by breaking it up into manageable chunks you can ensure than your policy is one that benefits you and your clients in equal measure. Below, we have listed four of easiest yet most important aspects when it comes to succeeding in customer service.
1. Manage the Expectations of your Clients
A simple piece of psychology is one that can make the biggest of differences in the way your clients perceive the service they are receiving. It may be easy to promise the world to get an unsettled client on board at first, but in reality it does not reflect well should you not be able to follow up these claims. Going beyond the call of duty is obviously the aim of the game when it comes to successful service, but by managing the expectations of your clients – not quite ‘under promising’ and ‘over delivering’, but not far off – and you’ll have a satisfied customer for life.
2. Stop and Listen, Then Look for a Solution
There is little more infuriating than seeking help from a business support centre and being treated with stock replies that sound as if they are being read out from a textbook. No empathy from your customer service team will mean one thing, and that is a loss of business. Showing that you are listening to their specific problems, however similar they are to ones you heard before can be a make or break point for your company’s reputation.
Interactive listening, displaying that you are taking everything on board whilst simultaneously working towards finding the root of the problem is the most effective way of exhibiting your capabilities. Asking questions not only helps your resolution process, but your client’s too.
3. The Customer Service Manifesto
Every company under the sun needs a clear manifesto that employees can read and digest in order to ensure the correct protocol is being undertaken by everyone on the team. A clear, concise document that outlines the acceptable standards your company adheres to is imperative if you want to provide customers with exemplary service every time.
The standards your company uphold must be measurable, they must suit the requirements of your client base and they must be included in performance reviews in order to maximise their effect. Training programmes, refreshers courses and e-learning updates can all be integrated into the plan so your staff can stay on top of the processes.
4. Inspire Enthusiasm Within the Workforce
A more general point for number four, but it can arguably have the greatest effect on whether your customer service standards are maintained or not. There are two ways of approaching this, the carrot or the stick – we are firm believers that the carrot wins out when it comes to managing staff. How can anyone be enthused by solving problems for a client if they are uninspired by their work?
It’s a very difficult balance to maintain, but if you get it right then you’ll have nothing to worry about. A few schools of thought, such as the one advocated by US company South West Airlines, believes that employees should be treated with the same attitude you would treat your first customer. They feel valued and appreciated and, as a result, are ready to help the customer to the best of their ability.
As stated in the introduction, these are merely the start when it comes to providing the highest quality of service to your client base. Strategic, structured responses that are balanced with empathy and enthusiasm will render the best results and leave both parties satisfied once the issue has been rectified. Regardless of the services your company or organisation provides, ensure that customers are not the ones that are forgotten when it comes to your business plan.