Stand out or Fade Away – Customer Service

“It’s very logical: There is proven ROI in doing whatever you can to turn your customers into advocates for your brand or business. The way to create advocates is to offer superior customer service.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Customers tend to do business with a person and not with a company. Also true is that despite the volatile market scenario, the extreme globalization and the internet revolution that has changed the face of doing business, if your customer service pleases a customer they will probably tell a friend or associate. However, even a minor service lapse leads them to speak to a larger number of people and unfortunately on the more visible medium of social sites. That hurts – it is what makes the difference for a company to stand out or fade away in to oblivion.

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Now, irrespective of the nature of your business – online entrepreneurship or otherwise, customers expect the same high standards of service. In fact it would be more challenging for online businesses to keep customers since the physical or human contact is very limited. Learning the ropes of first-rate and awesome customer service before venturing in to online business would make better sense for such business owners. For any business or company to stand out, it is not sufficient to just have value statements that show customer focus. Unless this customer focus is manifested, in a way that customers can perceive it and feel the importance being given to them, it is a sheer waste. Superlative customer service is an amalgamation of a number of things – strong customer service team that is constantly trained and upgraded, a customer focused company culture and of course well priced great quality products or services. Some organizations tend to forget one or the other and focus solely on their offerings without realizing the negative impacts of overlooking the other aspects. Ignoring any one often is the difference for a company to stand out or fade away. Basically, whatever a company does must be for one reason – customer satisfaction and loyalty. If customers are happy they will not only keep you in business, but will partner with you to grow it and become a stronger player in the market.

– Make your brand stand out and speak loud and clear. They should be holistically built and promoted through every possible channel – social media, emails, newsletters, television advertisements, social events and causes. Use both ordinary people and celebrities to endorse them depending on what you are trying to sell. Customers must feel your brand and know that you are making every effort to reach out to them even while promoting your brand. This feeling of importance proves indispensable in the realm of customer service.

– Reaching out to your customers and prospective ones, helps you forge ahead in garnering support for the company’s offering. Respond immediately and efficiently to customer queries and deliver as promised. These actions keep up the image of a stellar brand and customers are more likely to flock to you and recommend you to others.
– Brands and companies exist because the customer creates a market for them. Without the customers there would be no business. Make the offerings extremely likeable and something without which your customers will not know what to do.

– The company’s management must be a walking and talking example of customer focus. Look internally – if the company’s policies are employee friendly, it will be certain that the employees in turn would be customer friendly. A customer friendly customer service team is easily identifiable and customers will be able to experience the feeling of being important and wanted. Through a strong management and committed staff, not only will the company stand out from the rest but the fear of fading out will be far removed.

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– An all employee customer focus is important but what is even more important is an efficient and multi-skilled customer service team. One that views customers as guests who need to be served with respect, patience and a certain level of personalization. Even the best of brands can fail succeeding only if there is emotion attached. The customer service team should be able to touch the hearts of the customers if they want their company’s offering to sell. The team’s passion for the brand will be evident from the kind of service they give their customers. It could be answering a simple query, or resolving a minor problem or going through a lengthy troubleshooting document or troubleshooting diagrammatic representation – whatever the service required if it is perceived by the customer as being excellent, they are sure to reward you. Forming a bond and relationship with your customer will ensure that you stand out even in the toughest of times and market scenarios.

– Stand out or fade away either one will be a choice that the company’s management makes. If they don’t invest time and effort in to understanding what customers really want especially in terms of customer service, the entire endeavor of spanking new products or services will hold no water. Unflinching focus and support on customer service endeavors will be the key to success. The management must be aware of the fact that employees are watching closely and they must practice what they preach. Companies that have great successes are the ones where the management not only believes in the brand, but also goes to any length to ensure customer focus and start by treating their own employees well.

– A company can never stand out on price differentiation alone. It would be one of the factors but unless it is accompanied by outstanding customer service that wows the customer, it would be wasted. It makes business sense too – rather than be constantly involved in a self-defeating price war, raise the standard of customer service so high, that customers are willing to pay more and remain loyal to you.

Companies must focus on getting all employees to focus on retaining all current customers and attracting new ones. Whichever member of a company gets an opportunity to interact with a customer they should create a memorable experience for the customer. The customer service team should be trained to map patterns and behaviors that show up when customers are unhappy. Reaching out to such customers more often and asking them to give the company another chance is one great way to build reputation of a company that cares about every customer. A great interaction would certainly get them back to the fold and will probably always remember this gesture on your part. For example if a customer was facing a problem with their internet connection and despite a promise to call back no one did, you can be sure that you will have an irritated customer. To make things right, instead of a call, send a representative to the customer’s home (of course check with them first) and get it rectified in person. A handwritten apology note from the head of customer services will add an emotional connection.

Don’t just provide service – make your customers feel like they are part of your company. Allow them to be able to make suggestions and provide feedback easily. Implement the suggestions that make sense and give them due credit for it. Make sure your customer service team knows that they are actually the team to build customer happiness. Train them, invest in them and motivate them to provide the best customer service possible. These ideas have and will continue to prove highly successful in building a loyal customer base.

Making your company and your customer successful requires innovative and creative thinking. Looking beyond the basics and formulating ideas that will please the customer in every respect will ensure they remain loyal. Over time they will learn to overlook any minor service lapses and will be more than willing to be your brand evangelists. This will only happen when everyone in the company walks the walk and talks the talk.

Stand out or fade away – the choice will always be yours!

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