“Service is the most powerful competitive advantage we have. Service is not a cost; it is an investment. It’s a growth engine for our company,” – Jim Bush
Business enterprises need customers to stay in business and should therefore be friendly to all customers. This holds true for every business. Customer friendly policies should ideally be the cornerstone of every business enterprise. These policies send the signal that the business enterprise operates to benefit the customer, that the enterprise values customer satisfaction, and is working to widen its customer base. For instance, a wireless telecommunications service provider can create a policy that enables new customers to try its services for a limited period of time. Per the said policy, the customer can use the equipment, bandwidth, and air time of the service provider during said period. Should the customer be satisfied with his or her experience, they can continue to use the service. In case the customer chooses to withdraw, the service provider would not impose any termination fees or initiate any adverse action against the customers. Further, the service provider may choose to reimburse the call costs and the cost of the used equipment incurred by the company to the customers. We may say that this is a stellar example of a customer friendly policy, wherein the business enterprise is working to create goodwill for itself and legions of new customers.
Customer friendly policies should be fashioned keeping the customer’s benefit in mind. Consider this: a retail establishment that operates across multiple regions should encourage shoppers to consider its products and arrive at purchase decisions. The enterprise should also seek customer feedback and in case a customer is not happy with his purchases, he or she can seek a full refund upon returning the merchandise in question. Corporate history and case studies indicate that the majority of shoppers are unlikely to avail this policy, but the fact that the enterprise operates this policy is a big assurance to paying customers. The outcomes of such policy include higher customer confidence in the business, higher uptake of product inventory, a high margin of customer retention, and excellent scores in terms of public relations. All these factors represent emphatic wins for the business enterprise.
Developing customer friendly policies also means that the business should gear itself to serve the customer better. Internal processes and mechanisms should be put in place to ease the execution of such policies across the enterprise. This implies that any action of the customer that commences after the sale is completed does not meet a haphazard reaction. For instance, if a customer chooses to return an item or a piece of inventory, the back-end processes should be ready to receive the returned product and work to fully reimburse the customer. This is only possible when the business enterprise has put in place robust mechanisms to deal with such situations. Further, a retail customer may place a large order for a particular piece (or pieces) of merchandise. The business back-end should commit to a date and time of delivery of the said product(s), which should ideally match the customer’s convenience. We must note that such actions are possible only when the business has fully committed itself to anticipate every customer interaction or situation.
Acting on customer feedback and complaints is a fundamental aspect of developing customer friendly policies. Every business enterprise should keep a keen ear to the ground, and should listen to the voices of all stakeholders. This attribute of a business enterprise should ideally be predicated on face-to-face dealings between an authorized employee and the aggrieved customer. The employee should take care to present a courteous attitude and a friendly demeanour in order to win over the customer. Paying attention to the customer and recording the details of the complaint should be part of the interaction, following which, the executive should set in motion certain processes to remedy the situation. We must note that a customer-friendly outcome reflects positively on the business enterprise; therefore, this should be the first priority for every business executive.
Staff motivation remains an important aspect of creating and implementing customer friendly policies. The enterprise needs to realise that a motivated workforce is a precious business asset that can help the business to achieve its goals. Motivating staff persons is a way to achieve business outcomes consistently. This is because staff persons represent the public face of the enterprise and this face needs to be immaculate. These personnel often create the first impression upon a customer and therefore, they need to be trained and motivated to present a customer friendly face. The training needs to be ongoing so that the enterprise manages to impress upon all staffers the importance of being earnest. Staff members need to understand that they are the ambassadors of the business enterprise and that customer service should be their first priority while on the job. We should bear in mind that customer feedback often hinges on the customer’s experience of an interaction with staff members. Therefore, a smooth and efficient service experience should help the business to win and enhance mind share among customers.
The leadership team of the enterprise should also be trained to abide by customer friendly policies. Every business has its own compulsions and constraints, but when it comes to customers the business should move with alacrity. No customer is too small or too insignificant to merit attention. Every customer deserves attention and fair treatment; business leaders should abide by this dictum. This attitude should be actively encouraged and can then be cascaded into all levels of staffers that serve the organization. Customer service should become embedded in the corporate culture of the organization. Moreover, business leaders should be encouraged to interact with customers, listen to their stories, their complaints and their suggestions. Paying attention gets the job done and the information culled from such interactions can be compiled systematically. This is one of the ways an organization can attain customer delight and thereby, rightfully retain its market position.
A company’s policies need to be re-visited and re-invented at regular intervals in keeping with market trends and the evolving market landscape. These actions can help the company to remain a young organization that is aware of its priorities and its duties. Refurbishing existing policies, procedures, and processes should be an ongoing activity. The changes that have been made need to be documented and their efficacy should be assessed from time to time. In this context, it should be pointed out that an external consultant should be used to evaluate all changes. This exercise should provide an unbiased view which can be shared with the management team.
In the preceding paragraphs, we have outlined the various means that can be employed to fashion customer friendly policies. These policies should be treated as living, breathing entities. The public face of the business should be friendly and amenable to feedback – once attained, the business should work to retain and enhance this impression. Every policy may not have an immediate payback, but it is important to keep working on such matters. The ground level execution of such policies should be flawless if the business is serious in terms of achieving the desired outcomes.