Consistency builds strong Customer Relationships

“In the not-so-little mind of your customer, consistency is absolutely essential in delivering a world-class customer experience.” – John H Fleming

Don’t you just hate it when the regular store, you visit, has fresh stocks on one visit and is severely out of stock on the next? Or when your broadband connection is smooth as silk on some days and on another you are left pulling out your hair trying to get one stable connection? Irrespective of how ‘big’ the company is, as a customer you are completely vexed and will reach the end your rope with patience for this inconsistency. While every business knows that excellent customer service is their key for success and a strong bottom-line, they must also ensure that this service is consistent. Consistency builds strong customer relationships and these strong relationships lead to customer loyalty. Consistency and ongoing effort towards building strong customer relationships retains customers and their loyalty even if the prices of products of a company are slightly over what the others are offering. Delivering on promises and genuinely caring for customers is the kind of consistency required to build strong customer relationships.

The long term players in the market too, know that despite building strong customer relationships, these are extremely fragile and must be treated with kid gloves. Poor customer service and or lack of proper customer service can break these relationships in even a single instant and sometimes irreparably. Despite being demanding, customers can and do overlook the occasional lapse or human error when it is handled efficiently and rapidly and every effort made to resolve it. They do not and will however, be tolerant of apathy, rudeness, promises not kept, red tape and a lack of consistency. These are but a few things that customers do not take lightly. Should they – especially when there is a sea of other players who are busy ramping up their service in a bid to get their business? Customers have many options however for a business one lost customer often means the loss of many more customers and a dent in reputation. Consistency of great customer service is vital and of huge significance since it gives customers the confidence that the company will deliver every time and not just when it suits their company. Consistency builds strong customer relationships and loyalty.

Consistency is about how often and how well your company services the customers. For customers consistency means that they are at rest and have peace of mind when dealing with your company because they know that there will not be major upheavals or unpleasant incidents. They know that your company is bankable and reliable and that great customer service is not a fluke or an accident. Consistency in great service would be across all departments, all branches such that whoever or wherever your customer connects with they will get the same seamless and impeccable service. High quality cannot be present in one place and absent in another. To build strong customer relationships consistency across the board is vital. An example will elucidate – I had an account with a multi-national bank that had branches across the nation. The branch that I opened my account in was in an upscale locality – the staff was polite, service was fast and the general facilities of the branch were great. Each time – consistently! I had to change residence and to my delight found that there was a branch of my bank close by. However, horror struck when none of the practiced courtesies and facilities were present in this branch. Worst of all was the service and attitude of the staff. They were rude and impassionate and would make people wait in line for some ‘seemingly important’ tasks that didn’t involve the customers! I reported this branch but to no avail. Sure enough, I closed my account in this bank and transferred my business to another.

Also personalization of service does not mean that consistency is not possible. If customization is what you stand for then provide it all customers at all times across all your stores, branches – wherever. You are providing service to many customers but the consistency is in the personalization – such that if customers were to speak to each other they say the same thing – your company provides customized service. Imagine a scenario when some customers realize that they are being ignored when it comes to receiving personalized service from your company. You can be sure that they will not only walk out the door but also be extremely vocal about their displeasure.

Do companies know what are the most of the service features that customers want to see ‘consistently?

1. Timelines – short or nil waiting times, time taken to process, response times
2. Courteousness – politeness of all staff, telephone manners, greeting and closing
3. Accuracy – relatively error free and reliable work and accurate information provided (uniformity of information across all channels and branches)
4. Turnaround times and efficiency – how much time does it take to record a complaint and resolve it, how soon does the company revert and do they keep their promise
5. Seamless and complete service – how well is an order executed from start to finish
6. Choices provided – is there a variety of packages or products that a customer can choose from
7. Customized service – are the customer service agents empowered to provide service that is not rote and bound, can special requests of customers be entertained and managed
8. Facilities and convenience – are the outlets or stores or branches easily accessible and located, is there a parking facility, ease of getting in to and out of business with the company, what are the business formalities – are there too many forms, is information easily available or easy to get, are the offices well done up with proper cleanliness and optimum temperature, is there adequate waiting space, is the reception handled professionally, does someone care to offer a drink of water or a light beverage

A lack of consistency in these services and others, tells the customer that service and products would also lack consistency. However, if the products and services across are consistent with what the company says it stands for, the potential to grow for such a company would seem limitless. Customers will flock to you and with time your strong customer relationships will be the envy of all your competitors. It may sound like a magic formula – but it is far from that. Consistency by its very definition is something that is required to be ongoing, persistent and never ignored. How should your company have and display consistency?

– Consistency in the customer’s relationship with you / his business ‘trip’ with you
From start of the relationship where the customer knows clearly about the products, policies and strategies of the company and the kind of support they can get to the point where for example they need troubleshooting assistance. Every touch point for the customer must reflect the same quality and level of customer service and this should be true for all customers.

– Consistency in the trust and loyalty driving factors
Positive interactions and experiences each time for every customer brings about a feeling of trust and bonding. As these positive feelings spread the company would be able to build strong customer relationships with every customer. All departments, staff and communication channels must reflect these attributes and must be provide a uniform safe feel to each customer.

– Message consistency
Whatever message a company is trying to send across, must be consistent across all channels. This translates in to a promise and irrespective of which channel a customer uses they will see the same message – for example a customer receiving an email from the company must be able to see the same message via social media as well. For a customer to trust a company, the company must ensure that every team has the same understanding and what is being presented to the customer has a ‘single face’. There will be no risk of a customer misunderstanding any message and it will be possible to have complete faith in the message coming across.

The thing with consistency is that customers know that you will always meet their expectations and it shows them that you care and have their best interest in mind. The trust and bond that is built through consistency makes for strong customer relationships that are not easily relinquished or destroyed.

“Trust is built with consistency” -Lincoln Chafee

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