How do you provide world-class customer service that satisfies your customer base? One way is by establishing a standard of behavior as it affects your customers. Why is it so difficult to put yourself in the shoes of a customer and try to provide them with same sort of experience that YOU would like to receive? A second element is to make sure that all company team members are pulling on the same rope. If the boss makes it a priority you can bet your bottom dollar everyone else will as well. A third element is to make sure that your company’s computer system is top-notch. There is nothing as frustrating as being on the phone with a customer and being unable to retrieve the necessary information in order to answer their questions.
I used to work with an organization that performed scientific equipment rentals, leases and direct sales. Our CEO always stated that he wanted our company to be, “The Most Customer Service driven Test Equipment Company in the world.” If we was representing the organization that way to other executives we understood that we’d better not make him out a liar.
Consider for a moment what could possibly go wrong with regards to delivering scientific equipment throughout the country for people to use on a contractual basis. There is no shortage of challenging scenarios: downtime credits for units that stop working, equipment exchanges, meeting shipping deadlines, pricing discrepancies, etc. Suffice it to say we had ample opportunity to provide stellar customer service.
Performing a customer needs assessment. What does your customer need from you in order to feel taken care of? Some customers can be unreasonable in their demands but by and large most customers just want: 1) To receive the product or service that they ordered, 2) They want to receive it in a timely manner. If they cannot receive it in a timely manner they would like to be notified and kept up-to-date as to when they can expect to receive it. 3) When something breaks or there is a problem with the service the customer needs to feel confident that the situation will be rectified ASAP.
Establishing and meeting quality standards for services. Who will establish the level of customer service that you attempt to reach? Let’s be clear: There are different levels of customer service and someone has to make the call regarding whether “okay” or “good” is good enough. One thing that has stuck with me is that a former CEO was resolute that there had to be a human at the front desk. He refused to have a machine or foreign call center answer when his customers called in.
Effective evaluation of customer satisfaction. Do you contact your customers regularly and solicit their feedback? Have you established measurable standards that will determine whether customer service goals are being made on an incident by incident basis? Trust me. If you keep your customers on hold for a long time (i.e. any amount of time over 30 seconds) the feedback is liable to be less than stellar.
One thing is certain. If you can deliver excellent customer service in addition to offering a quality product or service, your customers will stick with you come hell or high water. And isn’t that the reason you are in business in the first place?