“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.” – Peter Drucker
It has been established beyond doubt that Customer Service is an indispensable portion of any business that strives to be successful. However, is there a cogent method of knowing whether your customer service is making the cut to being high quality? Although extremely vital, measuring the quality of your customer service can be challenging since it would be personalized to each customer’s experience. It is really how they view your service and each customer would have a rather individualistic view. Despite this, it is unquestionable that measuring the standards of your customer service will help determine whether your company is serving its customers with high quality customer service. Consistency of service, positive customer experiences, number of queries answered, speed of resolution and number of complaints received are all factors that can be measured to determine service quality.
In trying to get perfect results for customer service, it would be important to note that customer perceptions play a huge role in this context. Your business revolves around your customers and so each interaction will create one perception or another. As the market scenario changes, it brings with it changes in customer demands. So what constituted high quality customer service for one interaction or one customer, may be below average service for another customer or interaction. Enough to immerse your company in a state of confusion right! The answer to this can be got by pointedly asking your customers what they think of the quality of your customer service. Are they satisfied and feel that you are providing high quality customer service? Are they excited enough to recommend your brand and services to their circle of associates? What can you do to further enhance their satisfaction levels? The answers to these questions directly from the customer are sure to help you in dramatically raising the service quality levels.
Customer perception is the only reality in the realm of customer service. By asking these questions your company will get a clear understanding of whether the customer perceives that all his or her requirements are being met. Further, it would be simpler to determine whether your customer service is good enough to ensure customer loyalty and get you unwitting but willing brand endorsers. Both these factors actually work in conjunction with each other and are vital for the health of your business. If your reports and results reveal that your customers are ‘satisfied’ with your services, don’t start partying just yet. With the increasing number of players in the market and increased customer demands, customer ‘satisfaction’ is now only on mid-scale and will not suffice to hold your business together and keep it successful. A satisfied customer now just means that he or she is probably not in the mode of change or willing to make the effort to find a new vendor partner. It does not guarantee that your customers will recommend you to others or stay loyal to you. Such customers are probably just biding their time and may disappear as soon as a better offering and brand name gets their attention. High quality customer service will ensure that customers remain loyal and happy with you and also are excited enough to speak highly of you via any media available to them.
As we said, customer ratings and feedback can be highly subjective and may not be an accurate measure of your customer service levels. Using some tangible measures would provide unambiguous data to help determine your customer service quality.
– Only customers that are happy will give you repeat business. So it would be prudent to keep a watch on the status of sales figures. Increased sales would tell you that customers are more than satisfied and happy enough to continue using your brand and service. However, if the increase in sales is around festivals, annual sales or in season product sales, then you would probably need to also determine whether the customer was serviced by a knowledgeable and trained staff, whether the staff member was courteous and able to inspire trust in the customer. This data would be available from call records – tone of staff, length of conversation, response time and any feedback from the customer at the time.
– Even if all records indicate that you have been delivering high quality customer service, continue asking customers for feedback. Ask them to rate their interactions over a period of time, the level of knowledge and skill they perceived your staff to be at and more pertinently what ‘improvements’ they think can be made and suggestions to enhance service levels. Asking for advice on long term changes and improvement methods suggests to your customers that you value their opinion and are committed to implementing the suggestions as best as possible. Customers will see you as being pro-active, innovative and keen learners and will also feel responsible to provide the best suggestions. Their suggestions will affect them after all!
– A decreased number of complaints could mean that the irate customer has probably left you and hence no complaint. Find out the reasons for the increase or decrease in customer complaints, the particular areas of complaints and the frequency of the same. This will also tell you whether your customer service staff is displaying care and empathy in their dealings. If customers stay on despite complaining, you will know that your staff has been delivering high quality customer service thereby ensuring customer retention.
– Along with customer suggestions for improvements, do an ‘opportunity analysis’ internally to determine any weak spots that need immediate attention. These could prove to be the weak links and chinks in your armour of customer service.
– The adage “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” somewhat provides a direction towards what companies must remember. Don’t forget your competition – keep updated on their offerings, customer service terms and customer trends. You could even send an employee as a decoy customer to understand how they treat customers. Get better at what they do well and establish higher standards in what they miss the mark at. The few parameters could be service time, delivery time, quality of responses, time taken to respond, effectiveness of solutions provided, availability of services as per customer convenience and the amount of resources especially time and money that is being spent well or wasted. Cutting costs and providing high quality customer service would be the ideal situation for any company.
Gauging customer reactions and mapping the customer behaviour trends is an effective way to know whether your customer service is high quality or mediocre. This pro-active approach keeps you ahead of competition and your customer perceives you as being the leader in customer service. When you have the relevant data you will be able to clearly define your customer service strengths and areas for improvement. Publish your reports and recent improvements and changes you may have made on every communication channel. Being transparent will give your customers more reason to trust you and also will open the gateway for new customers. High quality customer service gets you more than just satisfied customers. You have happy and loyal brand ambassadors thus saving you a large amount of resources that would otherwise be spent on advertising and promotions. You will not only retain your customers but it will be easier to attract new ones since your reputation of high quality customer service will precede you.
“It starts with respect. If you respect the customer as a human being, and truly honour their right to be treated fairly and honestly, everything else is much easier.” – Doug Smith