“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the customer gets out of it.” – Peter Drucker
Quality customer service, as rightly pointed out in the quote, is that which customer’s see value in. Companies that provide such service see phenomenal growth and a rise in their popularity with customers. This is probably why companies now spend time and resources on hiring the right employees, then consistently training them and putting in place policies that will ensure they stay with the company for a long time. Of course, it has been established beyond doubt that every level and each person in a company should know how to provide quality customer service. However, there are certain roles and jobs, which would have regular and consistent contact with customers, as compared to others.
Quality customer service is absolutely critical and quintessential for any business and in fact tops price, range of products and other factors. Statistics prove the statement – while only 5% customers would recommend a company because they received quality customer service, 58% would never return to a company that provided shoddy service. In addition, 86% customers have said that they would be willing to pay up to 25% more if they knew that they would receive great experiences and quality customer service. How can any company afford to ignore these figures and facts? The truth of course is that while a company might know and understand these statistics, it is quite a challenge for most to provide the kind of quality customer service that would leave their customers wowed.
As mentioned several times, to achieve high and consistent levels of service, a company must include customer service in the overall business strategy but through a separately managed customer service strategy. This will ensure that the company’s focus remains on the customers – thereby insuring profitability, market share, customer brand advocacy, loyalty and retention. How would you know whether your customer service practices are actually effective and that your customers are truly pleased with your company? Setting benchmarks, attainable targets and measurable goals based on the customer’s needs, will help a company identify its strengths and shortcomings.
Many companies may brag about their steadfastness to quality customer service and their passion for customer satisfaction. Almost all companies would claim that service is their USP and makes them unique in comparison to their competitors. However, the customers must believe these statements and must display their belief. Doing too much could overwhelm your customers while too little can make them feel unwanted and unimportant. In order to complement quality customer service claims a company should be able to answer in affirmative questions such as – do customers provide repeat business? Are they happy to recommend your company to others and provide great testimonials of their experiences? If your company, most of the time is able to respond in affirmative then you should know that quality customer service is what your customers receive. Quality customer service simply put will make more money for your company and insure its long-term success.
The main aim of quality customer service is about exceeding the expectations of customers or at least meeting them consistently. Receiving great feedback via surveys or even face-to-face interactions should help a company assess how it is performing in comparison to customer expectations. The general opinion about the company – on pricing, products, service, and value for money – should be one of appreciation. If customers come across as satisfied on these key aspects, the next stage for your company should be word of mouth advocacy. Your company should be able to gain more customers simply on the recommendation of its ‘satisfied’ customers. Many companies have a process wherein they check with new customers as to how they heard about the company and its offerings. This would be a good way to measure whether your company is providing quality customer service or not. Acquiring new customers through recommendations saves effort and costs for a company and in addition, the ‘new’ customers approach the company without any apprehension or doubt. This is a massive advantage for any company given the highly competitive and strained market.
The other indicator of quality customer service is a company’s ability to hold on to its customers. Yes, customer retention is an extremely crucial outcome of quality customer service. The longer a company can keep a customer, the more loyal they tend to be and at the end prove to be highly profitable – both by providing repeat business and gaining more business for the company. When customers stay with a company and speak well of it before others, it proves the company’s dedication towards serving its customers and providing the very best products and pricing. Such customers are also more willing to provide support and value added feedback that would be of immense help to a company by enabling it to grow and rid itself of its shortcomings. Long term customers are the best business partners any company can hope for and the more such ‘partners’ a company can gain, the more successful they become.
Quality customer service is about resolving the customer’s problems and issues with efficiency and lighting fast speed. An efficiently working customer service team will manage customer issues well, ensure that customer’s find the solution they would be happy with, apologize to the customer for any inconvenience, provide compensation where required and thank the customer for giving the company an opportunity to improve and learn. Even dissatisfied and disgruntled customers are appeased by such service and in fact, usually become the most loyal and profitable customers for a company. Providing top class problem resolution is just another feather in the cap of quality customer service.
Another trait for successful service is that customers can contact the company whenever they want – when it is convenient for them. A company that professes to quality customer service would have flexible timings and would offer round the clock service to its customers such that they are never inconvenienced due to lack of support. The channels of communication, which customers can use to connect, too should not be limited. They should be able to reach your company through any channel and the response time and efficiency of each must be consistent. Customers tend to depend on and trust a company more if they are accessible and place the power to connect with them. Being available to customers also implies that they would receive prompt responses both before they buy and after they have made a purchase. People – read as prospective customers – tend to buy more easily from a company that responds to them in a timely manner and with solutions that appear customized and suited to them.
Not surprisingly, another key component of quality customer service is customers believing that they are receiving the best price for the products on offer and in comparison to other players in the market. The price in fact is not only limited to the actual ‘price’ of the product but also extends to the value and service they receive post making the buy. All these put together make for competitive pricing and will be perceived as quality customer service.
The actual value of quality customer service is when customers can perceive the company as one that truly cares about them. A company that shows customers consistently that they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep them happy and loyal, is the one that can lay claim to providing quality customer service.