Assessing the Quality of Customer Service

“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.” – Peter Drucker

Even though customers may not always be right or nice, the fact is that they are indispensable for not only the success of a company, but also its very survival. People may change within an organization, but whatever a company and its brand are able to establish in the minds of customers, remains. One of the top reasons cited by customers for leaving a company is the quality of customer service – not product quality or price or any other reason but poor quality of customer service and customers who leave for this reason, seldom return. The customer is truly the king and how well and deeply companies understand this, the more effort they would make in enhancing and sustaining the quality of customer service. It is essential for companies to understand, anticipate, and meet the needs of customers since doing so will get customers to loosen their purse strings and contribute to the success of the company.

Maintaining the quality of customer service may not be easy to do, however, it is quintessential to the success of any business. It would be a self-defeating tactic to focus only on acquiring new customers to expand business and forget to pay attention to the existing ones. A company without any long-standing and loyal customers would find itself on very shaky ground – every customer acquisition would only be to fill the vacant spots left by defecting customers. In any case, loyal customers are more profitable, are great at recommending your company to others, and are less costly to ‘maintain’. From research and studies, it has been proved beyond doubt that the number one reason for customers becoming loyal or leaving a company is the same – the quality of customer service provided by the company. It is therefore appropriate to say that the quality of customer service has a direct impact on the long-term success and sustained profitability of any company.

To maintain a high quality of customer service, it would be essential for a company to consistently monitor and measure the effectiveness of the service they provide. When gathering feedback from customers, companies often find that what they believed to be a good quality of customer service was actually not the kind of service their customers wanted and could be getting displeased by the day. By consistently assessing the quality of customer service provided, a company would become more adept at providing the kind and level of service that customers view as top class and perceive as valuable. Does your company know what its customers want – the quality of customer service they expect and whether they believe they are getting it? The good news is that assessing whether your company is doing a good job on service, is not that hard.

A company that claims to be customer-focused would already have customers at the centre of its overall operations and would have an all-inclusive strategy encompassing every aspect of customer service. This would mean that the company’s front-line staff and other service associated staff, receive comprehensive, regular, and pertinent training on how best to serve the company’s customer base. Highly trained and knowledge personnel would be able to provide a higher quality of customer service, which in turn would translate to enhanced reputation, increase in sales and profits, and gain customer loyalty over time. There are several pertinent and good quality training modules available. There are also, a number of professionals, who can impart such training in an efficient and timely manner. Ensure that your company affords time and opportunities to all its employees to receive training in order to develop their skills and raise awareness about the need to provide great service to customers.

There are several tools, in addition to training modules, which companies can use to measure the effectiveness and quality of customer service. The truth about customers is that each one has their own perception of what service should be and they assess a company based on their subjective needs. Using different methods of gaining customer feedback, ensuring a wide range of tools to capture customer experiences, and extracting ‘feelings’ from every customer interaction are great ways to know how customers perceive your company in the present. Some of this data could also help a company to pre-empt and predict future needs of customers and a change in their perception. Remaining aware of these changing customer ‘fetishes’ would allow a company to ramp up the quality of customer service and make improvements in all areas of its business.

Many companies engage customers by seeking face-to-face interviews with them. Personal interactions of this nature usually provide companies with highly potent and insightful information regarding the customer’s views about their company. It allows a company to understand the pain points of customers better, know how their needs may have changed over time, and what they expect as support from the company to achieve their goals. By asking the right questions and listening actively, a company would demonstrate its commitment to understanding its customers and giving them the confidence to share openly, their thoughts and lay down their future expectations.

Another extremely effective method of assessing the quality of customer service in the company is to seek feedback of those that interact with customers several times a day on a daily basis. They have direct access to customers and they could potentially influence customers either positively or negatively, depending on their attitude, skills, knowledge, and capability to provide a top quality of customer service. It is through these personnel that a company could become powerful and effective in gaining repeat business and regular referrals from its existing customers. It would behove a company to take good care of, provide top quality benefits, and a great work environment for their customer interfacing staff, which would lower their stress levels and make them better at providing great service each time to every customer.

Ensure that each person within the organization has product knowledge – at least enough such that every employee appears knowledgeable and aware of the company, if they were to interact with customers. They may never interact with a customer and may not be in the sales / marketing departments, but this knowledge is essential for anyone working in the organization. If they were to interact with a customer and are unable to answer all their queries, they must at least know who within the company would be equipped to help the customer, and ensure that they pass the call / query on to the appropriate person. With time, as customers perceive the commitment on the part of each person to raise the quality of customer service provided, they would be more willing to engage with the company through repeat business, testimonials, and referrals.

Whatever your company does to raise the quality of customer service, a sure-shot indicator that the attempts are gaining success would be a simultaneous increase in sales and a dramatic drop in complaints. In addition, customers would consistently interact with your company beyond business, would find ways to promote a company and its products, and would actively encourage others to do business with it. The fact is that customers are the backbone of a company and they know it – hence providing them with a high quality of customer service would be the best way to keep them and gain unprecedented growth for the company for a long time to come.

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