7 Critical Steps to Establish a Customer Service Culture
During our recent weakened economy,8 Critical Steps to Establish a Customer Service Culture Articles many businesses have seen declining revenues and declining budgets. Declining budgets often lead to reduced staff levels and diminished services. To me, this does not make sense. I believe that it is during the down times, when service should be at the forefront and retention of loyal customers even more of a focus.
When price wars fail to drive revenues, businesses often look to service to give them a competitive advantage. Many big business marketers are returning to a “service sells” mentality, however, many sell great customer service and few deliver. The problem is that few marketers have ever truly served a customer.
Throughout my years in business, I have had the opportunity to interact and develop a customer service philosophy. It is inherent that when you are in a service-based business, there will be times when your customer is compelled to offer you their feedback. It is what you do with this feedback that will shape the future and their impression of your business.
Upon reflection, most all of my interactions with displeased customers 有限公司 無限公司 were not the result of a poor product, but rather a disappointing customer experience. Why is that? Because, product is not personal, customer service is. Briefly, I would like to share with you eight critical steps to establish a customer service culture.
Customers are the reason for work, not an interruption of work
This sounds really obvious doesn’t it? How many times have you gone into a business only to wait while someone is on the telephone or busy doing some “non-service” task? Employees often lose sight of the importance of the customer and get consumed in lesser day to day tasks. Sure, there are tasks that need to be accomplished, but you cannot afford to sacrifice service to get them done. Good customer service must be a priority for you and your team. Without your customers, you have no company!
Train, train, and continue to train.
Cross train your entire staff to be able to assist a customer regardless of their department. When a customer becomes upset they want their problem solved not to be shuffled between employees that are not empowered or enable to assist them.
Offer continuous customer service training for your staff and once they are providing good service, continue to train them.
Utilize role play situations to assist your staff in recognizing and experiencing both easy and difficult service opportunities. If an employee has a level of comfort with a difficult situation, they will be able to better handle it.
Empower your staff to serve
Establish a system of resources for your staff to serve the customer. Allow them latitude to take the necessary action to provide exceptional service and resolve any issues should a customer become disgruntled. Create a structured system to allow your staff to serve customers.
Establish a discretionary budget that an employee may access to recover a customer before you lose them. I recently learned that a major hotel chain has a monetary fund available per year and per employee enabling them to go above and beyond to ensure exceptional service. This empowers the employee to right a wrong or create a “memorable” customer experience. I am not advocating large sums of money, but with regards to customer service, a small gesture can go a long way.
Ask your staff what tools would enable them to provide better service. You would not send a fireman into a burning building without the proper equipment. Failing to empower and enable your staff with the necessary tools to serve you customer leaves you with few options other than poor service.
Make service personal
Greet repeat customers by name, if possible.
Offer a handshake and introduce yourself. Creating service that is personal will not only retain customers, but help diffuse difficult situations should they arise.
Thank your customers for their patronage. It really does make a difference.
It is ok to say “Yes”, even when you should say “No”
Support your staff when they make customer service decisions. In my business, it is my policy that an employee can act without concern for repercussion, as long as they are meeting a customer’s need. I have found this creates a greater willingness to serve the customer.
Often times you could say “no” to a customer, however, “no” can have huge implications on your business. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to potentially lose 10 customers as result of this interaction?”
Offer a solution
Shift from the problem to the process for resolution.
Offer a choice between several options.
Put yourself in their place.
Involve the customer in determining the solution.
Clearly explain any limitations that exist.