Providing Timely Service to Customers

“Top two reasons for customer loss: 1. Customers feel poorly treated and 2. Failure to solve a problem in a timely manner.” – Report by Harris Interactive

In the previous exposition we spoke about the fact that customers leave when they feel they received slovenly treatment. Equally important is the fact that they expect timely service and failure to do so by a company would make the customers leave for someone who is more attentive to their time. Irrespective of the size of your company, the number of years of experience and the large numbers of skilled workers in your company, if you are unable to provide timely service to customers they will not stick with you for long. Timely service to customers includes a vast array of actions – promptly answered phone calls, knowledgeable and timely solutions to problems, prompt delivery, keeping promises and other such aspects. Customers will always have queries, some questions or will just want to connect to remain informed. It is the responsibility of the company and its representatives to ensure that they receive timely service by way for efficient and speedy responses. Customers have the right to be kept informed – their time and money are invested in your company.

The task of providing timely service to customers is everyone’s. Irrespective of the position or role in the company, the skill or expertise level of a person – each person must ensure that if the customer interacts with them for anything, the service provided must be top class and the customer should be delighted. Failure at any touch point to provide timely service to customers can and does result in them getting frustrated and ultimately taking away their business and also spreading the negative experience with others. Timely service to customers is an essential part of customer service and is one of the aspects that help to forge a strong bond between the company and their customers, leading to business success.

It is no secret that the economic and business environment has become tougher – there is increased competition, more similar offerings and a customer base that is becoming smarter. The main differentiation then is customer service and within this realm communicating regularly, striving towards innovation, reducing costs and effort for them and providing timely service to customers are highly critical. The challenge for companies is to maintain uniformity of service across all contact points and through all the channels of communication now available. However, the omni-channels can prove to be a major advantage for those companies that use them effectively, swiftly and in ways that keeps them ahead of competition.

Timely service to customers is not just about providing swift solutions. It is also about ensuring that any promise made by the company – on delivery, service, phone answering, responses via other channels – are kept each time. A single broken promise can soon have a happy customer turn into your greatest foe translating to tarnished reputation, loss of business both from current and prospective customers and huge costs in damage control. It is the onus of the company and its representatives to keep customers engaged and to cater to their needs. Timely service to customers is perceived by them as getting personalized and immediate attention which is something that every customer values. In turn this allows your company to have a better control on customer communication and relationships which proves to be an extremely profitable tool.

Customers have so many options in terms of companies and offerings and also a vast ‘buffet’ of communication channels to choose from, and hence no longer have the willingness to wait for service. If they are forced to wait or your company is unable to respond to their problems and needs when they want, customers are quick to take their business to someone who will serve them how they want, when they want and wherever they want help. Timely service to customers does not always mean that a solution can be provided ‘right now’, but it does mean that the customer will be kept informed on the timelines and a reasonable and effective solution will be provided at the end of the deadline.

Many companies now are realizing the value of timely service to customers and hence have set-up round the clock telephone answering centres, live chats and other services that will allow their customers to get in touch with them at any time of the day and night. Such services give the customers a level of comfort and convenience that translates to long term business and loyalty. They see your company as one they can depend on and trust, which are two indispensable traits for a company in relation to their customers. Companies that do not keep pace with the fast moving business and customer world would be at a disadvantage. Their customers would be left waiting for responses or resolutions and in some industries it is still acceptable not to have round the clock service. However, the expectations of customers here too is that the company would respond to them within 24 hours or less and most definitely keep them updated on the kind of solutions being put together and by when. Timely service to customers is all about keeping them at the core of the company’s strategies and functioning such that their needs and expectations remain the prime focus.

As customers, you too would have had to connect with the company providing the service or product. In such interactions you would be able to clearly recall the most outstanding and the most frustrating experiences and the bad experience would have been something that you would have shared with others. This is the same with your customers – they remember and share their frustrating experiences more often than the good ones and if your company is giving them reason to be upset, you can be sure that they will not let it pass. Timely service to customers, means that a company provides them with many and easily accessible routes of communication and then responds in a swift and efficient manner through the channel that the customer seems to prefer. Customers understand the limitations of providing on the spot resolutions but when your company consistently responds to them in short time frames and with effective answers, they are more than happy to advocate your services to others. Over a period of time, such exceptional service allows your company to be noticed and stand out among the many players in the market.

The bottom line is that customers know their value and expect that the company they invest in realizes it too. Companies should be able to form an emotional connection with them and through providing reliable and timely service to customers would be able to do this successfully and repeatedly. It is the company’s responsibility to reduce customer effort, make it easy for them to do business, ensure that they can ask, complain, return and talk to the company at their convenience. No customer will last if they need to wade through a series of options, call repeatedly or even wait endlessly just to get their point across. When the survival of your business depends on your customers, does it not seem foolish to treat them badly or provide them with service that looks only at your company’s convenience? If you don’t give customers a reason to stay – they will leave, for good.

Whatever the method you use to connect with and engage your customers, ensure that it is preferred by your customer. If they believe that face to face interactions will work better, then make the time and effort to arrange such meetings. If however, social media or your website is their preferred mode of communication, then comply. The fact is that whatever the customer is comfortable with, they would make time to access that channel quicker ensuring that the communication between your company and them is swift and efficient. The efficacy of providing timely service to customers can never be overstated or over emphasized. It is an absolute and an essential aspect for your company that if managed well can firmly place your company in the top companies in the market.

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