Customer service isn’t just about being courteous to your customers – it’s a vital element of business operations that can impact your bottom line and affect how your company is viewed in the public eye. Several high-profile companies have been in the news of late, finding themselves in the spotlight because of poor customer service policies. The good news is, it’s relatively simple to implement a customer service improvement plan that keeps your business on top.
What Is Customer Service?
Customer service consists of a collective set of policies that govern every way you and your employees interact with your customers. It encompasses everything from how much parking you have available to how you greet customers, handle service complaints, and back up your product or service. At its core, quality customer service is about making sure your customers feel they are valued, treated fairly, and appreciated by your business.
Customers frequently share their opinions of businesses online and through social media, which means even one wrong move or perceived slight – especially one caught on camera – can spread quickly and damage your business. In addition to providing high-quality service, monitor what’s being said about your business online so you can quickly address and resolve any complaints as they arise.
Why Customer Service Is Important
A lot of businesses just like yours are competing for customer dollars and customer loyalty. Chances are good that you’re investing in marketing and advertising efforts to bring consumers through your doors. The important part of customer service is in keeping the customers once you bring them in. It costs significantly more to attract new customers than it does to take care of the ones you already have.
Customer service is important to reducing turnover. Employees who have to deal with unhappy customers are unlikely to enjoy their jobs for long and may leave to seek more hospitable working environments.
How to Provide Exceptional Service
Good service starts with your attitude and employee training. After all, good service works from the top down, and employees who are specifically trained in the art of quality customer service are far more likely to represent your company in the way that ensures satisfaction and repeat business.
Develop customer service policies: Implement service policies that address every conceivable aspect of the customer experience. This includes how quickly your phone is answered or your website or email questions responded to, how many cashiers you have on busy days, how generous your return or exchange policy is, and how you handle irate customers. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and brainstorm every potential scenario your specific business could encounter, and then develop customer-friendly ways to address them. Involve your staffers in the process – you’ll get fresh ideas as well as buy-in to the customer service concept.
Hire well: When you interview candidates, ask them what quality customer service means to them. Pose sticky customer scenarios and ask them how they would respond to the situation. This gives you an idea of whether the people you hire for your front lines will represent your business in a way you find acceptable.
Provide customer service training: Train your employees on customer service policies. Role-playing works well with one staffer acting as the customer and another as the staffer. Moderate the session to offer your take on what the role-players did right and where they can improve. Make customer service training an ongoing part of your company’s professional development program so that staffers are continually urged to up their games.
Check out “Customer Service Excellence” by Asia Metropolitan University on eVarsity.