Lee Martin’s five minute training tips
The value of customer service
New Peterboroughbusiness.co.uk columnist, training specialist Lee Martin, looks at the vital role excellent customer service plays for any organisation
Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. However, in a competitive climate where costs and services are very similar, it is imperative to realise that every aspect of your business can impact on your customer’s experience, not just those which are face to face. A company can provide a comprehensive range of services for its customers. Unless you have a product or a service where you have the monopoly market, you need to be able to offer that “something” extra to distinguish yourself from the competition. A customer-centric strategy can be the solution.
Many seek to provide exceptional customer service but few actually, constantly deliver it, it doesn’t just happen. It is the result of an intentional effort on the part of a company’s owner and its staff to provide a second to none service where every customer feels important and valued. Research has shown that the majority of customers stop doing business with a company due to the attitude or indifference of its employees towards them. So, how exactly can you ensure that you’re providing excellent customer service every single time?
Treat your customer as a person, not a number
As welcoming as it is to gain new customers, make sure you have a solid customer retention strategy in place. Part of this can be as simple as acknowledging they have purchased from you before. You may not remember their name, nor what they bought, but acknowledging that they have done business with you previously goes a long way towards making them feel valued and appreciated.
Find out the needs of your customer
For a customer facing employee, a major part of the job is determining the requirements of your customer so that they make the most appropriate and relevant purchase for them. Any single purchase can be a major investment. Take the time to ascertain the exact specifications of what your customer is looking for so they can be confident and content with their subsequent purchase. Make a commitment to always learn what your customers want and they will come back time and time again.
Make it easy for your customers to buy from you
Be the company where customers find the staff accessible when they need them. Make it easy for your customers to contact you, provide them with a point of contact at all times so they can contact the company easily with any questions or concerns they may have. In today’s world of automated switchboards, people like being able to speak to an actual person. Provide an efficient and hassle free experience each and every time with easy to use processes. Exhibit professionalism, efficiency and politeness at all times. Commit to consistently high levels of customer service and your company will become renowned for its customer focused service.
Exceed the customer’s expectations each and every time
Providing not just good service, but memorable service is a key component of an effective retention strategy. Today, consumers’ expectations are higher than ever and if you fail to deliver, you risk losing your customer. If you say you’re going to do something, make sure you do it, even if it is a simple phone call. One of the quickest ways to lose your customer’s confidence is by not following-though or late delivering a service or product without advance notification. If a delay is unavoidable, try and provide an interim solution for the customer.
Have empathy for your customer
It is vital to place yourself in the shoes of the customer, especially when a difficult situation may arise. So, when you have an agitated customer in front of you, understand that they are not having a go at you but may have a pressing need to make their purchase or be under some other indirect pressure. When you see that it is the situation affecting their behaviour rather than their personality, it is easier to work towards a resolution.
Acknowledge and admit if you have made a mistake
If you make a mistake, admit it and concentrate on setting it right straight away. When a customer has a complaint, they want their complaint to be heard, so really listen, not just hear, apologise and tell them the corrective action you will take. For many customers, the fact that you are willing to listen and rectify the error immediately, will go a long way to diffuse the situation and reach a satisfactory solution. What may have started off as a bad experience can be turned into a positive one that a customer will recount to others with a positive spin.
Listen to your customers
Ask your customers for their thoughts on your service. Gain feedback on what they like and don’t like. Conduct surveys and questionnaires and act on the information that you gather. Let your customers know that their opinions are important to you and by listening to them, you can make valuable improvements that will benefit both you and your customers. Keep doing this regularly so that you can ensure that you are remaining up to date with the changing needs of your customers at all times.
Implement an excellent customer service culture
Set customer service standards, define what they are and what they mean to your company. A way of communicating your service to your customer is via a Customer Charter. The Charter underpins your commitment to the ongoing provision of excellent customer service. Formulate a customer care vision. Agree a statement of intent and service guarantees. Review processes, set targets and design ways of measuring performance. Define key employee behaviours and embed the Charter into the culture of your organisation.
Train your staff
Equip your staff with the right skills and behaviours to deliver your customer centric approach and the investment made in them will repay itself tenfold. Keep identifying your customers and their needs, and ensure you make the necessary changes to go above and beyond their expectations of excellent customer service continually and consistently. Retained customers mean repeat business and increased revenue. Ensure your staff understand the importance their front-line roles play with your customers’ satisfaction and become known as a business that takes a genuine interest in its customers.
Lee Martin is the owner and MD of Toojays Training & HR Consultancy Ltd. Based in Peterborough, the company delivers leadership, management and team development solutions to a range of international clients. To find out how you can benefit from Toojays services, please visit www.toojays.co.uk or contact Toojays direct on 01733 367210 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org