“To keep a customer demands as much skill as to win one.”- American Proverb
Irrespective of what we write on, we always emphasize the need to have a certain standard of quality of customer service and how important it is to measure this quality. Rightly so – since customer service is probably the single most critical factor that affects the success and popularity of a company. However, without putting strategies in place to measure quality of customer service that your company provides it would be impossible to know whether the service is consistently good and also what your customers feel about it. In knowing what customers believe about the quality of customer service you provide, your company can make improvements in the offerings and customer experiences across all touch-points and communication channels. Even if your customers seem happy and your company is consistently profitable, you would still need to measure the quality of customer service and the products you offer to ensure consistency and continuous improvement. In the words of Hlovate: “You’ll never reach perfection because there’s always room for improvement. Yet get along the way to perfection, you’ll learn to get better.”
While customers might be a tough lot, happy customers can actually prove to be an asset – they will provide repeat business, remain loyal, offer referrals and give excellent testimonials, become a great advertisement and advocate for your company and through their word of mouth save you huge amounts of money, time and effort on marketing and promotions. It therefore makes good business sense to measure the quality of customer service being provided and reap the rich dividends that only satisfied customers can bring.
As pointed out, happy customers will buy more and also recommend your company’s offerings to others and this would translate to better sales. Monitoring sales would give you a fair idea as to the quality of customer service too since part of the reason for increasing sales would be due to better service. Since quality of customer service would be only part of the reason, it would be important to monitor other aspects of increase in sales too.
- The sure shot way to ascertain and measure quality of customer service is to directly ask the recipients – that is the customers. Conduct formal and informal research on what your customers believe to be the level of service being provided. Check back with them periodically and even set up a customer advisory board to raise the levels of service and offerings being provided to your customers. Report back to customers on how you used the feedback they provided.
- Invest in CRM technology to ensure that the vital data of customers is stored safely and can be readily utilized by the teams that require the information. The better you know your customers, the easier it would be to measure the quality of customer service and the products.
- Keep your customer service representatives in the loop. They are a rich source of information since they deal with customers all the time and would be in a good position to provide feedback on what customers feel about the company. Monitor also on the number of complaints that you receive from customers, the nature of the complaints and customers / customer segments that seem to share a complaint. A rise and drop in customer complaints would both be indications of the quality of customer service being provided and tracking them would help to get rid of issues that cause the complaints.
- It is vital for a company to know what their customers perceive to be their strengths and weaknesses. Monitoring feedback, compliments and complaints will provide the answers and help your company to strengthen further whatever they are doing well, put measures in place to remove the things that make customers unhappy and work towards more innovative and creative products and solutions.
- No company can work in isolation or in a silo – every company is part of the entire market scenario which means that there are companies other than theirs – the competition. Never underestimate what your nearest competitor is doing – in fact learn from what works well for them and steer clear of the errors they make especially if those errors are driving their customers away. Check back with customers as to what they perceive to be the differences between your company and your closest ‘rival’ and how you could overcome any shortcomings and further build on what you do well. Keeping an eye on competition is extremely essential for any company that hopes to be seen as customer focused.
Find ways to engage consistently with your customers – since a satisfied customer today could be highly dissatisfied in the future if your company is not aligned to their changing needs. Measuring the quality of customer service must be on on-going process since customer expectations never remain constant and will change depending on market conditions and their own needs. Unless your company can emerge as a great service provider consistently, customers will not be able to ‘lean’ on you or come back with repeat business and or referrals. The key to unlocking loyalty and profitability is consistency!
Often understated, high quality of customer service starts and continues when companies have put together outstanding customer service and related teams. The front-line staff must be able to deliver a memorable first impression and follow it up with the highest quality of customer service on a consistent basis. To ensure that the teams are able to do their job well companies must provide them with all the latest tools, technology and training they require to do their job consistently well. Customer service is a highly demanding role and it is imperative for companies to recognize this and put whatever processes and strategies in place that would be required to help ease the strain on the service representatives. Stressed, frustrated and disgruntled employees cannot be expected to deliver great customer service. They would not perform at their optimum, absenteeism would increase and soon employees would begin to leave – taking with them the skills, knowledge and training imparted.
Companies may argue that customer service is a highly expensive proposition and they would much rather change it from being a cost-centre to a profit centre. This is possible to do when a company calculates the cost of poor service, exiting customers and employees and the time and money they lose in trying to win back a customer or attract a new customer and also in the re-hiring task. Anyone in business knows that acquiring new customers and hiring new employees is way more expensive than investing in strategies that will keep both these vital sections of people ‘glued’ to your company. When you invest in training and coaching methods for your employees, what you are actually doing is setting your company up for success – since well-trained and highly knowledgeable employees will ‘pack a punch’ in delivering high standards of service and a higher output of work as compared to mediocre employees.
Any company worth its salt would know that any investment made to improve and measure the quality of customer service and other aspects of the business, is actually an investment for their own success and future. No business can run without customers and employees and therefore skimping on investments and resources to improve the quality of customer service and the quality of life for employees, is a highly imprudent thing to do from a long-term business perspective. Any business is a give and take – with giving being the first and on-going aspect before you expect to receive. Serving your customers with consistently improved standards is a result of putting in place great strategies and taking good care of your vital human resource – your employees and also consistently measuring the quality of customer service.