How Good Is Your Customer Service?
Why is it important for us to care whether or not our client’s like our service, perhaps they should just be happy that we are giving them a great product?
Unfortunately, human beings are emotional creatures and love to feel pampered, important and respected, so whether you offer an out-of-this-world product or not; you are going to have to up your game and make sure that your client’s feel ‘Wowed’, in order to retain and gain clientele.
It is important that you have the correct outlook towards customer service, for you to be able to identify and improve on your businesses current service experience.
There are 3 (three) steps to review, improve and monitor on your customer’s service experience.
- Step One: Review
- Step Two: Improve
- Step Three: Monitor
Step One: Review your current Customer Service Satisfaction Levels
Gather all data pertaining to your customers’ satisfaction, including all the good, the bad and the ugly. Remember that Customer Service effects all areas of your business and not just your front-line staff, so ensure that you get the data from all departments. Make sure that you have also included all social media comments. Social Media has become one of the main sources for receiving and responding to customer comments/complaints.
Divide the comments into categories:
- Green – Happy Clients
- Orange – Clients who are not too impressed
- Red – Irate Clients
The Green pile is what you are doing right! Keep up with the good work!
The Orange means that clients were not 100% satisfied. You do not want client’s to be in this category because if a client is not 100% happy then chances are; you will not get repeat business from them, nor will the positively promote your business. Happy clients are the best promotional asset for your business!
The Red means that corrective actions are required immediately! As, they say in monopoly “Do not stop, do not pass begin and do not collect R200” (because chances are your client has already taken the R200 from you due to poor service).
Take the time to read all complaints and compliments
Every message from a customer presents an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction. Compliments show you what you/your business are doing right, while complaints point to new ideas and action steps for improvement.
Get feedback from your lost/unhappy clients:
If you do not have many client feedback's, but noticed that clients are not purchasing your service or product, don’t be afraid to ask them WHY? Whether you send them an email, ask them in person or give them a call; you will find that people are more than willing to share with you why they are not buying from you – granted you approach them with respect. People love to feel valued and if you express how much your feedback will help you to improve on your service or product, then they will help.
Step Two: Improve your customer’s experience
Now that you have sorted and reviewed what your customers currently think of your business, it is time to see what you can improve on. As I mentioned above, customers (aka human beings) are emotional creatures and need to be nurtured.
Improving on your customer’s service experiences should be an ongoing action. Do not wait for clients to get irate or for sales to decrease before stepping in and making changes. At the end of the day, your employees are your company and your customer experiences will be defined by the skills as quality of service that they receive.
How to improve on your customer’s service experiences:
Customers are people and they like to interact with people and not with machines. You need to ensure that your employees have the necessary skills to make that interaction one that leaves them satisfied and valued. There are many ways to demonstrate these skills, here are a few skills that you can use to get your customers smiling:
- Empathy, a world of patience and consistent delivery. When you are dealing with customer’s you need patient, friendly and handle every client like they are the King or Queen of your business.
- Adaptable. No two clients are alike, so you will need to adapt your approach to suite each individual’s need.
- Clear communications. Miscommunication is one of the largest cause of irate clients. Avoid this by being clear on instructions, what your services include and what your product can do. You need to ensure that you and your staff are transparent to your clients.
- Knowledgeable with a strong work ethic. Customers rely on you to know your product and or service, back to front. They look at you for honest, expert advice. A client would rather you be honest and say that you are not 100% sure of something, than have you make-up the information as you go along. The strong work ethics comes into play when you are able to focus on the client’s needs while keeping the good time management.
- Broad Shoulders. Customers are not always right, but they are the ‘bread and butter’ for your business and remember to not take it personally even when the client gets personal with you. If you are feeling like you are going to explode at the client, then rather ask the client calmly if you could get your supervisor, who will be able to assist them.
Improve your customer’s interaction with your staff.
Once again, this is all about the human touch. Being human means that we make mistakes, but how we handle them, is what will make all the difference. Showing clients that you value them and that you are human, will make the customer interaction experience a good, honest one.
How can you show clients that you are human?
- Practice Active Listening. Just by acknowledging what your client is saying, whether it is by nodding your head, clarifying and rephrasing what they have said or by asking relevant questions pertaining to their inquiry; this shows that you are truly listening to them.
- Be honest. If you have made a mistake, rather admit this to the client, as soon as possible; instead of the client picking up the mistake and then having to prove that the mistake was yours. Many conflicts can be prevented just by someone being honest and admitting and fixing the mistake. Never cover-up a mistake that you have made, hoping that it will go away – This will only come back to bite you in the bum, later down the road.
- Follow-up. No matter how embarrassed you are, it is better to follow-up or give a courtesy call or email thanking your client for the opportunity to amend the error and for their support. Like I have said “clients want to feel valued”.
- Feedback is vital to your businesses success, so create ways to give your client’s the opportunity to provide you with feedback. This can be done by placing feedback cards on all tills/counters, sending a follow-up email to clients and then ask them if they would not mind rating your services for your ongoing Customer Service Enhancement program; or by placing a feedback form on your website.
Step Three: Monitor – Prevention is better than cure principle
The fact of the matter is, that a single interaction between you and your client, can either make or break a relationship. By learning from previous mistakes (step one), knowing and improving on your service standards (step two), you will be able to give your business the best tools to provide your clients with excellent customer service. The key is to continuously monitor your service standards in order to catch any problems that may slip through the cracks, causing client’s to look elsewhere.
Make Service Excellent the ‘norm’ in your business.
Run a Service Excellence program for your staff, rewarding them for giving your clients outstanding service. It is a sad fact, but as great as your staff are, rewards talk, so offering rewards is a great way to get their buy-in.
Show your client’s that your business is dedicated to improve and provide Service Excellence by placing posters up in your offices/store telling about the program and what is means for them.
How can you monitor your customer satisfaction levels?
- Listen to your customers – they know what they want and expect – but you will only know if you listen to what they have to say.
- Ask your clients if they have any suggestions on things you could improve on.
- Monitor online feedback's and record all feedback received via email.
- Continuously assess and monitor your staff’s behavior, by incorporating your businesses Customer Service Standards into their performance contracts.
- Remember, evaluating service standards is an ongoing task which should always be improving and evolving. Place the discussion on Customer Services on your monthly/weekly meeting, agendas, which will ensure that it does not fall through the cracks and open your business up to unnecessary irate clients and complaints.
No matter whether you are a large corporate organization or a small business owner, ensuring that your customers are satisfied will ensure your businesses future. Identifying, implementing and monitoring a Customer Service Standard across your business can take extra resources, time and money; but it will all be worth it when your customers experience excellent service and generate positive word-of-mouth references for your business. Keeping your customers happy will encourage them to support and refer your business, which will help your business grow and prosper.