We all have read the countless studies that state retaining a customer is far less expensive than acquiring a new one, so shouldn't a company's focus be on improving customer service and their overall experience? YES!
It's even more important today, because customer's expectations are very different from 10-15 years ago -how they shop, look-up and write reviews, engage with companies on social media, to what they expect and how quickly they require a response to issues and feedback.
So, the question is…do you spend as much time developing your service strategy and culture as you do on your sales strategy? As service providers - and we are all in the service business - your service level needs to be continuously reviewed to meet the demands of customers. If not, you could be losing those customers you worked so hard to capture and in the end, spending more money to acquire new ones.
The most ideal company culture is one that focuses on being customer centric from the top down, but sometimes leading that change is hard and it will not happen overnight. However, you do have the power to make a difference, just start where you can and involve the departments and managers that engage with customers on a daily basis.
To help you get started, here are the top 5 things you should do to get your company on track to meet the demands of your customer’s expectations in today’s world.
1. Continuously involve those employees who deal directly with customers in targeted meetings to discuss the customer experience.
The people that really know what is going on with your customers are those that handle questions and receive feedback from them on a daily basis. This is your internal quality team and they hold the keys to helping you proactively resolve issues such as out-of-date processes, system issues, website/mobile modifications or needed customer communication.
2. Be present on all social channels and react to customer comments quickly.
A great working relationship between the service, sales and social team is essential to handling customer's issues and feedback. Don’t let a comment sit on your social page without being acknowledged!
3. Record every interaction with customers so all employees understand the customer's prior or ongoing experience.
I learned a long time ago during my time with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, if it isn’t written down, it never happened! As a customer, there is nothing worse than trying to resolve an issue and the employee has no idea or record as to what is going on, so the customer has to repeat the issue over and over until resolved.
4. Have consistent processes and policies on how to provide proactive service and how to resolve issues in a timely and effective manner.
Never tell a customer no! Always give them options and make them feel listened to, and most importantly...follow up! When you see a reoccurring issue, do what is in the best interest of your customer (and ultimately the company) and take the necessary steps to remedy the customer pain point.
5. Make service training a priority to reinforce the importance of your customer's experience.
Training doesn’t have to mean your entire staff is out of the office all day. While major 1-2 day training should take place at least once a year, (or move your training online to fit within your schedule - learn more now) more frequent mini-training refresher sessions should take place throughout the year. These mini-sessions could be weekly 10 minute or monthly 30-minute discussions to review service standards and recognize staff for providing extraordinary service.
It doesn’t matter if you have a dedicated service department or not, or if you employ 10 or 1,000 employees. Exceptional customer service touches all employees and is a company-wide responsibility. And remember, nothing happens overnight - change should be made slowly to allow employees to adjust.
My favorite phrase has always been "baby steps". You can’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the task, you just have to start by taking that first step to see future improvements.
Don't know how or where to start, or need personalized customer service training? We can help, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org