Top Customer Service Principles

“A service culture doesn’t happen by accident. The company is always a reflection of the person at the helm. Their attitude, their values, and their commitment to service excellence will drive the actions of others in the organization. Always has…always” – Mac Anderson

Given customer expectations and demands today, companies cannot but make customer service the foundation of their business. Customers today look beyond the fancy products, décor and style of a store and office, the online presence of a company, and other such ‘frills’ – the customer service principles of a company must match their expectations, or they will leave and never return. There are several such customer service principles today, which may not be written anywhere but are the unspoken and expected standards of service that customers expect, and against which a company is judged by the industry and the ‘market’ as a whole.

Most of these customer service principles seem straightforward and obvious – meaning that customers believe that every company would understand and follow them. The problem arises when companies provide lip service but do not actually implement and run their daily operations based on these principles. Why do companies fail on so many counts of customer service, especially since it is because of customers that any business exists and survives? Is your company able to implement the customer service principles successfully and consistently?

  • The most obvious principle (it would seem) is that customers are always right (even when they are wrong). Customers need to be right – hence, even if they may have messed up it is never acceptable to tell them so – a company and its representatives must never tell customers they are wrong. This is true especially when the customer may be complaining and ranting about something, it makes sense to listen to them with empathy and a genuine desire to help. Problems and issues are inevitable, what matters, is how a company manages the customers and their expectations. Efficiency, speed, and empathy will ensure that customers come back, while rudeness and slovenly behaviour will ensure they take their business elsewhere and let others know too.
  • Another of the top customer service principles would be that service is the responsibility and duty of everyone in the company. While the service representatives, sales and marketing teams may be the front-end, they do need the support and rely on the efforts of other departments and teams to provide the kind of service that customers expect. When customers connect – in any manner – they would not be concerned about whom in the company they are able to speak with, but rather who in the company would be able to listen attentively and speedily resolve their problem. When everyone in the company is focused on the customer and the company has a culture of service, it becomes a lot easier to make a success of the customer service principles, which ensure that customers remain happy.
  • It is imperative for a company to prioritise customer issues – seeking to resolve those that would cause substantial inconvenience to the customers if not fixed speedily. It would be imprudent to leave irate customers waiting – they would be sure to leave but not before expressing their anger in a variety of ways, and would be certain to spread negativity about the company. Service representatives should be skilled and trained sufficiently, such that they can prioritise and handle the more difficult situations speedily and calmly. Companies must ensure that they are staffed sufficiently such that wait times for customers are at the minimum – for any customer her or his issue would be the most important, and companies must treat them as such. Making customers wait or showing them that their issue is less important than another would be reason enough for customers to leave and never return.
  • Many companies err often on the aspect of thanking and appreciating their customers. While it is true that companies do have several customers to care about, and must also manage their business, but not thanking customers for their business is a major blunder, from which most companies are usually unable to recover. Customers put a lot of effort and resources when doing business with a company, and need to know that the company appreciates it. Part of the top customer service principles is that companies must regularly thank customers in different ways for their business. Posting public thanks on the website and or social media sites of the company, send the customer a gift and a handwritten note, give them special discounts, gift cards, incentives, organize a thank you event, and other such forms of showing appreciation help to keep customers happy and loyal.
  • As a company, you may have met with several successes and would have resolved many customer issues in the past. However, resting on laurels is never a good idea and goes against the top customer service principles. It is necessary to improve continually and understand the current needs of the customers – this is possible only through gaining feedback. It is necessary for a company to ask customers what they feel about its service and products, and make it easy for customers even to complain. Customers who provide feedback, even in the form of a complaint, would actually be affording the company with an opportunity to improve and get another chance at pleasing the customer. Complaining customers are always better than the silent ones, who tend to leave without providing another chance or letting the company know where it went wrong.
  • Gaining customer feedback is not enough though. It would be imperative for a company to use the feedback – translating it to action. In order to ensure the customer feedback produces tangible results, a company must share the good and bad comments with all its employees. Doing so will let all understand their strengths and weaknesses, and support any initiatives the company may take to keep customers happy. Customers are the reason that businesses exist and without them there would be no company, no jobs, and no salaries – hence it would be necessary for all employees to understand what they need to do to keep the ‘lifeline’ of their company well and happy.
  • Ensure an increasing level of personalization in every interaction with customers. Customers want to know that they are speaking with real people capable of care and empathy – one of the customer service principles then would be that a company must present its humane side and not appear robotic and rote. The customer dealing representatives must be able to display unfeigned interest in the customer and their needs, be proactive in their approach to their problems, make a genuine effort to learn about the customer beyond the business association, and listen attentively enough to understand the non-verbal communication from customers
  • As far as possible, customer service representatives must know the company, its products, and the use of the latest technology. In addition, they must have top communication skills to be able to convey whatever they know, including their understanding of the customer’s requirements. A company must understand that being honest, confident, transparent, and knowledgeable forms a large part of the customer service principles.

We are certain that there would be many more such principles of customer service around which a company can base their interactions with their customers. These principles cannot be compromised, else the company would put itself at risk of customer churn, loss of business, damaging its reputation, and over time complete shutdown.

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