“How do you find the time to manage all of this social media stuff?” That’s one of the most common questions I’m asked whenever I present. And sometimes, I get the sense that people are hoping that it’s so complicated and time-consuming that they’ll have a great excuse NOT to do it. Not to learn [...]
Winning Through Service: Focus Your Attention on Your Customer
Customer service is vital for success in today's business environment. So is customer satisfaction. Providing and maintaining outstanding customer service will be the critical difference in your business's success.
If you are not focusing on your customers and their needs, you should start right now. The 1980s and 1990s were about quality, with business owners focusing on getting the quality right. Then it became important to focus on getting the quality of our service right. The 2000s will be about focusing on customer service and customer satisfaction.
Customer service relates to all the activities performed in your business, by you and your employees. It means analysing these activities and ensuring they are benefiting the customer. More than just handling complaints, providing refunds and smiling at your customers, outstanding customer service means doing everything possible to satisfy your customer.
Therefore, customer service needs to be incorporated into a pro-active, strategic plan that is implemented throughout the organisation. It needs to be a part of every decision you make and the question ''how will that affect the customer?'' needs to be asked before any change is implemented.
Making your customers happy
We have all experienced being a customer. We know that as customers we want to be treated as though we are special and valued. We want products or services we purchase to be delivered to us when and where we want them, with customised changes made if necessary. And we all know what it's like to receive very ordinary customer service with no flexibility or special care.
How to keep your customers happy and coming back for more
Your customer service program must become a customer retention program. As it is six times more expensive to attract new customers than it is to retain existing customers, doesn't it seem more cost efficient to work on keeping your customers for life? Concentrate on strengthening relationships with your existing customers and focusing your attention on the 20% of customers who are most likely providing you with 80% of your business.
Turn your customer service into a competitive advantage. Recognise that your staff are your most valuable asset - they are your keys to customer satisfaction. In order to consistently deliver excellent customer service, everyone in your organisation must be trained, supported, and committed to providing this high level of service.
The service you need to deliver to attract and retain customers will differ depending on your product and your competitors. The process you need to implement in your business will be different too. Some guidelines for improving your customer service processes include:
- Design and implement systems and processes that deliver consistent quality.
- Conduct a customer service audit on your business.
- Ensure your staff have the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver the standard of service required.
- Adapt the service culture of your business so the focus is on the customer.
- Design and implement customer service standards so that your internal and external customers know what is expected.
- Link staff incentive schemes to service standards.
The good news is that in today's impersonal environment small business has a great advantage when it comes to personalised, flexible and friendly service. An environment where we deal all day with machines providing automated service, where we listen to a recorded voice more often then to a ''live one'', it is becoming increasingly important that the people we deal with are friendly and helpful and have the power to make the decisions that affect the customer. When your business is small you work more closely with your customer and therefore have the chance to personally build positive customer relationships and gain feedback. Use it to stand out from the crowd with your level of service and your customers will do your marketing for you.