Customer Service Lessons for all Businesses

by | Feb 22, 2017 | Customer Service | 0 comments

“You do not need permission from a boss to make a customer feel great” – Bill Quiseng

In today’s business world, and the current ‘breed’ of customers, it is impossible for any business to survive without learning and practicing the basic customer service lessons. Successful businesses today say that they owe their success to the kind of service they provide their customers – some even reporting an increase in conversions as high as 250%! It would make sense therefore, that businesses of all sizes and types understand what kind of service their customers expect and how they can get better at delivering to these expectations. The customer service lessons we enlist may sound clichéd and obvious, and yet many companies fail at most or all. Is your company a good learner?

The most basic of the customer service lessons is the ‘practice’ of listening – really and truly listening to customers. Irrespective of past successes, it would be foolish for any company to assume that they ‘know’ what customers want without making the time to listen. The fact is that customer needs and expectations today are more dynamic and rapidly changing than ever before. What may have been a need yesterday is probably ‘out the window’ today – and hence it is imperative for companies to consistently converse with customers. Scripted questions are a strict no-no, and it would behove a company to ask customers what they feel about the company’s products and or service, check back on their likes and dislikes, and gain their feedback for future improvement.

Talking and listening to customers would imply that a company and its leadership remained visible and accessible to customers. If the company’s leadership stays behind the ‘walls’ of the company, customers might soon begin to distrust the company. True customer service is about reaching out to customers – talking with them, getting their suggestions, accepting their criticism, asking them for tips on how to serve them better. Many companies stop here – however, one of the most common sense customer service lessons is that the leaders must reach out to the employees as well – especially those that interface with customers all the time. Not only does this make employees feel valued, but the company would also gain some invaluable insights into what their employees and customers actually believe about it. In addition, reaching out to both these ‘precious assets’, shows a company’s passion and commitment to serving customers better. No company can accelerate forward without top class customer service, and service excellence would be impossible without motivated and knowledgeable employees.

This next point, whenever mentioned, brings about vigorous nodding of heads, but very few companies actually keep up. We are talking about a company keeping its promises – both said and unsaid ones. Relationships are formed based on the promises and assurances customers receive from companies, and these promises matter a great deal to customers – irrespective of whom in the company makes them. If a company fails to keep its promises, it can lose customers, market reputation, and trust of a much wider audience too – recovering from which can be nearly impossible.

With the rise of digital tools and technology, one of the most basic customer service lessons would be for a company to use these tools to provide increasingly great service. Use these tools to empower employees to provide swift, effective, and delightful service to all customers at all times. This would also reduce the burden on your employees, make them more efficient, increase their confidence, and boost their morale – in turn, they would be increasingly motivated to ensure that all customers receive exactly what they want and when they want.

Many companies make the fatal mistake of being too rigid and narrowly focused on established policies and processes. They fail to notice when exceptions would solve problems, retain customers, and get them feeling positive about the company even after a service lapse. There could be times, when your company may feel and know, that a customer would be requesting for something completely against the company’s policy. Rather than immediately refusing, it would be better to compare the ‘cost’ of the request against the lifetime value of the customer to make a sound decision. Of course, it would be necessary for the company to mention to the customer that the offer would be only to resolve the current problem, and would be impossible to replicate. The customer would be grateful for the resolution, while remaining aware of what they can and should not request.

Rather difficult to follow but still one of the most important customer service lessons is never to retort in the same vein to an angry customer, especially if the customer may have written a particularly nasty comment on-line. In fact, an increasing number of customers are using social media to praise, and slam companies and products, and in the hyper-connected world of today, not responding or responding inappropriately, could be the undoing of a company.

Connected with the point above, customers today expect companies to be constantly available given that almost all interactions are digital. There is no excuse or escaping for companies from the ‘always awake’ online world, and those that continue to operate in limited timings, can be certain that customers would side line them. Round the clock operations through some digital channel is no longer a nice to have – customers demand it, and do not accept less. Smart companies interact with customers wherever they may be, and at whatever time they expect to connect – a hard but one of the critical customer service lessons today.

As mentioned, customer service is given through the employees of a company. Hence, one of the basic customer service lessons is to hire employees who would have the requisite mind-set, attitudes, and experience required to serve customers. The company can impart skills and knowledge – it is tougher to train employees on attitude. Hence, it would be sensible to hire people with a positive and helpful nature, an attitude of service, and a desire to alleviate problems of others. A company must in turn, treat their employees well, since employees would behave with customers as their company treats them. Treat your employees poorly, and a company can be certain that they would create a lax and slovenly ‘environment’ of service for the company’s customers. Customers who receive poor service, not only leave, but spread negativity about a company over several digital channels, which would be seen and read by a much wider audience.

A common dictum and part of the customer service lessons is the fact that it would be impossible to control what is not monitored and measured. In order for a company to know how it fares with regard to service to customers, it would be necessary to monitor and measure the success rate of the processes and guidelines it puts in place to serve customers. If customer satisfaction levels seem to be on the rise, a company can be sure that it is doing the right things for its customers. Directly proportionate to satisfaction levels would be the amount of business, and repeat business that customers may provide, as also the testimonials and referrals customers would be willing (or unwilling) to provide. It is therefore, imperative for a company to keep a finger on the pulse of its customers, by monitoring the kind of customer service it provides. Among the most important customer service lessons is the fact that customer service is no longer an area that companies can afford to overlook or neglect – customers are bound to ‘punish’ any company that does. What do you think is amongst the best and biggest of the customer service lessons your company may have learned and perfected?

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