“Customer service is just a day in, day out ongoing, never ending, unremitting, persevering, compassionate, type of activity,” – Leon Gorman
Customer service is serious business and represents one of the pillars of modern commerce. A business that caters to its customers in every sense of the term can be called a well-oiled enterprise that will never run out of steam. Serving customers to the best of one’s professional ability should become second nature for every interested employee of the modern corporate enterprise. To that end, we have to bear in mind that the business (and the people that operate the business) should have a sound understanding of the unwritten, and often, unstated rules that drive customer service.
A customer service representative must have deep knowledge of a product or service. This would afford him / her ability to answer customers’ queries and questions. Fluent customer service personnel represent a business mascot; such entities are always in a better position to cast a positive impression about the organization. This individual is also ideally suited to operate beyond the ambit of his / her duty and make a sale to prospective customers. The corporate organization should also ensure that all of its employees are familiar with the company’s latest products, services, and protocols. This is test of discipline across the corporate enterprise; such discipline enables the different faces of the organization to speak in one voice, thereby transmitting a consistent corporate message at all times.
Customer service hinges on human behaviour. Every business has its customers and every customer should be welcomed with a smile. This kind of an approach to business conveys the impression that the customer is welcome and that the business is eager to serve the customer’s requirements. The human ego should ideally be left out of every business transaction; this implies that a business extends professional courtesy to every customer, irrespective of creed, colour, gender, and nationality. This attitude can help a business enterprise to scale the heights of greatness. Every customer represents a valuable business opportunity; impressive customer service can win repeat business, foster public confidence in the ability of an enterprise to deliver, and burnish the public image of the said enterprise. These attributes represent business intangibles of immeasurable value. We could say that great customer service can deliver a multitude of benefits to businesses.
The top management of an enterprise should inculcate a sense of urgency in the rank and file of the business in an attempt to set the ground rules of customer service. Customers are human beings and every customer deserves special treatment. A systematic approach to customer service is the first step in achieving a matchless corporate reputation. Managing customer expectations and listening to the customer represent critical parts of this systematic approach. This needs to be drilled into the everyday activities of a business enterprise. Creating and nurturing new customers is an extension of this argument. This means that widening the pool of customers should be a top business priority. The efforts of the business notwithstanding, every customer should be moulded into an outspoken advocate of the enterprise. Customers tend to trust other customers and therefore, glowing testimonials from one customer can attract legions of new custom to said business.
A corporate enterprise should also cultivate the ability to build a rapport with all stakeholders, primarily, with its customers. This should become a corporate watchword because such actions can engender trust and build business confidence in the long term. Both of these attributes are critical for a business to survive and flourish in a competitive market. Building rapport with customers can proceed on multiple lines – ranging from customer points of contact to the office of the chief executive officer. The customer may be an external entity but the rapport with the customer is central to good business practices. Once trust is established, the customer is less likely to switch to a different business enterprise. Trust can also bring in larger volumes of business (which directly impacts the bottom line) and has an active role in generating goodwill for the enterprise. A business that wins the customer’s trust can grow and nurture generations of loyal customers; this is an important achievement for any business worth the name.
Understanding the customer’s point of view is essential for a company that chooses to offer excellent customer service. This implies listening to the customer’s voice and crafting an appropriate solution. Every business must seek to enter the customer’s mind because such an understanding can help the business gain an edge over the competition – these efforts, starting at the level of customer service representatives, should be sustained at the higher levels of the company’s management echelons. The many customers of a business enterprise can choose to speak in different voices and may offer different inputs; this information, in its totality, should be collected and processed to glean business insights. These efforts can also help the business enterprise to foresee future customer requirements and create product and service development plans accordingly.
Handling customer complaints can be a daunting and delicate task. Nonetheless, an enterprise should train itself to hear adverse feedback from its customers. Business leaders should recognize such feedback as opportunities to improve business operations and should invite customers to speak their minds. The information that issues from such exercises should be captured and analysed across the firm in an effort to improve the ways of doing business, including customer service. Taking accountability for the customer’s problems can lead to enlightened business practices. We need to appreciate the fact that a critical appraisal from the customers’ mind has the power to uplift an enterprise. Such feedback is far more valuable than an external consultant’s recommendations. This kind of information can also help a business to examine its own image and its internal processes; these exertions can lead the way to a re-discovery of the corporate self and may ignite fresh energy to tackle the business issues of the day.
Every business should make an effort to be accessible to the customer. This edict should be etched in every department of the business enterprise. Every member of the corporate organization should make it a priority to be available to customers of every hue. An engaging customer service representative can hold a customer’s attention keeping in mind the fact that conversations with customers are good for business. These interactions can open new possibilities of doing business. Customers can have fantastic suggestions to offer to a business enterprise and these must be captured at the earliest. Should these ideas be actionable, the business can easily steal a march over its competitors and may even succeed in creating new markets. Therefore, a business must cultivate a customer-friendly attitude that must underlie its corporate image.
In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined some of the attitudes and techniques that underpin effective customer service. Every business leader and business owner should appreciate the importance of the mechanics that drive fine customer service. These principles apply to business enterprises of every hue in every industry. A happy customer is essentially a business asset that has the potential to enhance business profits. This must be acknowledged and actively pursued in the interests of elevating a good business into a great enterprise.