Maintainable Customer Service

“The secret of success is consistency of purpose”. – Benjamin Disraeli

Does your company have surges in its customer service after a long bad phase? The truth is you would soon start losing customers since customers expect not only high quality but also maintainable customer service. It must be top-notch on a sustainable basis if a company would like to known as one offering great customer service through the changing demands and expectations of the customers. Maintainable customer service also means being able to adapt to the volatile market conditions, changes in technology and being able to match the trends in social media. Sustainability may not be viable for some companies especially those with ‘pockets not so deep’. However, following some tips could help any company to maintain a great level of customer service irrespective of the industry and the changes that are inevitable in the service sector.

– Maintainable customer service is the result of keeping a sharp focus on the customer. Irrespective of trends and upheavals, keeping the customer satisfied through personalized and honest interactions, regularly engaging with them and delivering on promises with great products and or services.

– To maintain a standard of customer service that pleases the customer, commitment and focus must start at the top most levels of the company. Staff members will emulate whatever the leaders do and if customer focus is expected then the top bosses must demonstrate it first. This means first treating the internal customers – employees – well. Also the top brass must take time to interact directly with customers through various channels so that each person in the organization understands the value of doing so and also in keeping the focus on the customer.

– We know that customer expectations and demands are ever changing and maintainable customer service would mean being able to rise to the challenge and exceed those expectations. The most glaring example is probably that with the rise of social media, customers expect almost instant responses. The companies that have evolved and tweaked their internal processes have been able to stand out from the crowd and emerged winners in the extremely capricious world of customer service.

– Another challenge to maintainable customer service is the ever changing technology and the manner in which customers gain information and also communicate. Customers have begun to expect live chat online sessions, self-service portals and more service while on the go. Companies that have been able to match the speed of these demands through effective responses are the ones who are reaping rich benefits.

Anyone in business knows the above to be true currently and in addition also knows that simply providing the service won’t suffice but to have maintainable customer service, the company must internally know how to measure and map customer satisfaction levels. Accurate customer data, regular soliciting and analysis of customer feedback, competitor and market evaluation, benchmarking exercises and others contribute towards allowing companies to have maintainable customer service through the knowledge of current customer needs and expectations.

– For maintainable customer service, just like any initiative, there must be a plan and a vision. In order to achieve the goal of happy customers it is vital to first envision that goal and then plan the steps to get there quickly. Customers are not likely to wait around hoping that you will ‘someday’ provide them with stellar customer service.

– Maintainable customer service also requires constant improvement and hence companies must revamp their strategies and policies to be in conjunction with this goal.

– As before, for any initiative to pack a punch and be successful, the top line must be totally committed to it. Maintainable customer service also must begin here and be inculcated throughout the organization through various means till it becomes the culture of the organization.

– When the top line is energized and committed, it won’t be long before the rest of the staff is committed too. This staff commitment is vital to maintainable customer service since it is them who interact with customers on a daily basis. Without their support and staunchness, the best of customer service strategies and plans will go bust. Employees put the vision in to action and carry it forward to make happy customers.

– For the staff to be committed, they must also be empowered. Empowering the staff to make spot decisions, would be beneficial to both the customer and the company, makes staff more responsible and motivated. Motivated staff deals more efficiently and smoothly with customers even when there are complaints. It also saves time for customers and makes a good impression as opposed to staff that needed to ‘run to’ the supervisor for every minor issue.

– The front end staff especially can help your company have maintainable customer service. Ensure that their feedback is taken and implemented where necessary and possible. It saves your company loads of money, time and effort to get an outside agency to get feedback for you. Taking their feedback and rewarding them for sustainable ideas, will further motivate the staff and also keep them in the company for a longer period of time. Make the employees responsible for their feedback and the actions thereof giving them a sense of ownership and belonging to the company.

– Ensure that your customer satisfaction measurement system is updated and is able to provide detailed customer profiles, market and competitor analysis, employee and customer satisfaction scores and other such metrics. Unless you know what you need to change, improve or introduce, how will you be able to?

– Benchmark your company’s customer service practices and processes with some of the best practices in the market. Conduct internal audits and reviews to understand where you stand in the current scenario and whether your company has improved in customer service enough to have maintainable customer service that is pleasing to customers.

– Develop a strong team internally who will act as the core group and be the change agents for the company. They are the ones whom the customers may contact in case they are particularly displeased. This team would be suitably empowered to make changes and influence decisions to match the customer’s needs. The team must consist of at least one top line member and have an inter-departmental representation. They would be the force that moves everyone in the right direction and also develops and keep to certain ground rules. Clear communication is imperative to let everyone know what is expected and also that non-adherence to policies regarding maintainable customer service would be dealt with strictly. The benefit of forming a diverse group is that there is company-wide representation and everyone understands the limitations and responsibilities of others. Each team learns from other and also appreciates the value the other team and its members add.

Having said all the above, the truth is that there would still be times when all efforts seem to reach a dead-end – the trick lies in not giving up but moving forward relentlessly. Humans are bound to make mistakes but when the commitment for maintainable customer service shows, customers are more likely to overlook the errors and will also work towards making the improvements.
Companies that are able to push the extents of customer service are soon able to achieve maintainable customer service and reap the rich benefits of providing great customer service over long periods of time. The time of leaning and depending on scripted solutions and rote customer interactions are long over. Rather having a holistic and well-rounded approach to customer service through every person in the hierarchy believing in it will make the company’s service sustainable and viable for all in question. Start by creating emotional influences and networks with customers and display sustainable values. It is never too late to pick yourself up and commit your company and its service to not only pleasing the customer constantly but also rewarding your company with an ever increasing bottom line as happy customers continue to provide you repeat business. Maintainable customer service is more profitable, cheaper and more rewarding. Are you there yet?

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