When a company’s shifts its focus from the promoted product or service to the customer, the company would have Customer Service Orientation. It simply means, putting the customer at the helm of every strategy, process and transaction. Customer Service Orientation is the sure shot formula for success in the current highly volatile market scenario. A sustained ken of the customer’s needs, wants and expectations will help achieve this orientation. Companies must have robust systems in place to ensure that this focus remains through the life of the relationship with the customer. The company’s culture must reflect a commitment to this focus – Customer Service Orientation is the responsibility of everyone in the organization. In fact, it must start from the head-honcho to work effectively. This manner of working would not be called a focus if it was expected only from the customer service teams!
Evaluate and ascertain whether:
– Each customer is treated equally and with respect
– There are fast and effective responses to customer queries and or complaints
– There exists open, prompt and lucid communication that keeps your customers informed
– Your front-end customer service teams are asking pertinent and relevant questions to gain a sharper understanding of the customer needs
– Your customer service teams are well-trained and highly skilled
– The focus lies on learning from feedback provided and implementing as much possible.
With globalization, larger number of players in the market and increased competitiveness there is no dearth of choices for the customer. Customers seem more willing to be understanding of a flaw in the product or service, but are becoming increasingly unforgiving if treated shabbily. Poor customer service speaks of no customer service orientation. And if you have ever been treated despicably as a customer, you will appreciate how frustrating it can be. Customers mean business and success – reverse this and it is scary even to think about. Customer Service Orientation must be the life-blood of your company to insure your success and booming profits.
Your company must take concrete and measurable steps to keep high standards of customer service. Constant observation and monitoring of progress is also very essential.
• Customer loyalty is not something that is just handed over to you or happens overnight. Review whether the value proposition you as a company promised the customer is being met religiously. Constantly endeavour to over deliver and delight your customers which will result in customer loyalty. Not overnight but over a long period of time.
“Here is a simple but powerful rule: always give people more than what they expect to get.” ~ Nelson Boswell
• Have a robust pre-employment screening in place. Ensure that the people you hire for your customer service teams don’t need to be ‘taught’ to have a customer serving attitude. People with personal traits of empathy, quick thinking, analytical abilities and strong communication skills are the ones you need to scoop up. It is easier to train people on hard skills than trying to get them to imbibe these finer qualities. Honestly, you can’t really ‘train’ someone to be kind or want to be a good listener – these are qualities that are inherent.
• So you’ve picked the crème de la crème for your customer service teams. Well done – it wasn’t easy at all. Make sure you retain them for a long time by treating them well. When your employees feel that they are important and the company values their skills and efforts, you would be able to do away with widespread attrition. Train, reward and recognize them since what they do, does have a direct impact on the way your customers will be treated. Your employees will only consistently exhibit customer service orientation, when they can perceive an internal employee focus.
• Knowledge and product based training is imperative for your front-end staff. Being trained consistently ensures that your customer service staff will remain up to date on the latest developments within the company and the brand being promoted. Also industry related training also helps to keep your teams ahead of the pack. Managers and supervisors must also be imparted these trainings and additionally be trained on how to motivate, coach and give feedback to their teams. When everyone is working together, the cohesiveness will ensure that the customer is served well and each customer experience is memorable.
• Leading from the front or taking your teams with you – are all leadership clichés. But nonetheless extremely relevant if the top management expects all the levels of staff to be customer oriented. Every high level policy or business strategy must reflect customer service orientation for it to successfully filter down to the root of the company. Companies that have open door policies and leaders who interact regularly with employees are the companies that can boast of having a customer focused outlook. Take care of your internal customers and they will ensure that your business flourishes through excellent external customer service.
• A leading insurance provider found that its business was fast dwindling and an increasing number of customers were expressing dissatisfaction at the service provided. It was decided to implement what is known as Voice of the Customer or VOC. This was a risky but must do effort. They actively began asking for candid and open feedback with instances, from all their customers. It was a hard and painstaking process but the company was finally able to pin point the reasons for their consistent service failures. Every company must actively solicit customer feedback and put it to good use.
• Create core teams to manage the responses and feedback received from customers. These teams must have someone from the leadership as well. It is an effective way to ascertain customer needs, behaviour and trends. This is vital to formulating robust and formidable procedures that are aimed at enhanced levels of customer satisfaction.
• After hearing the Voice of the Customer and analysing the data received, it would make it relatively easier to keep tabs on what customers want and expect. To know whether you are maintaining the high standards required, it would be prudent to keep a customer service scorecard. These scorecards are indispensable and serve as important historical data. They are potential time and resource savers if you were to face similar situations in the future.
• Surveys, core teams and scorecards – together need to weaved in to the culture of the company and more pointedly in to the framework of your customer service. Provide leeway and allow the staff to use their discretion in managing customer interactions. Not all queries or situations will be as per the ‘rule book’ and it would be beneficial if your employees were empowered to make the necessary spot decisions to serve your customers in the best possible way. However, it must made well known within your company that serving your customers is not just the responsibility of the customer service staff. Each member is directly or indirectly responsible for ensuring that the customer is treated well making for long term growth and business success.
Customer Service Orientation is a powerful weapon that will let you prosper even if the economy is dull and unprofitable. Delivering outstanding customer service speaks of your company as having a ‘towering personality’, of being a giant among dwarfs. In the long haul, customer service orientation will make your company highly resilient and immune to any competition and market conditions. Customer centric staff will remain unfazed in the trickiest of situations and will be able to deal with even superlative degrees of customer ire. The commitment to serve and keep customers happy will be strong despite adverse conditions. Customer Focus or the lack of it, both have the potential to shape the future of a company making it either successful or wiped out of business. Make Customer service Orientation your guiding light and principle to be the torch-bearer not only within the industry you operate it but also as a benchmark for industries at large.
“Service, in short, is not what you do, but who you are. It is a way of living that you need to bring to everything you do, if you are to bring it to your customer interactions.” ~ Betsy Sanders