What would I really want?
What’s the one thing that can really set your organisation apart from your competitors, retain customers, increase business and improve relations within your organisation?
Yep, you’re right… ASP but what I’m also referring to here is the age old art of customer service...
Now customer service shouldn’t be something mysterious, hidden or for someone else to deal with and it’s all too easy to get complacent. Delivering great customer service should traverse all departments and be at the forefront of every employee’s mind. From the ground up each person in an organisation needs to do their bit in maintaining an effective customer service strategy.
When I say strategy, I don’t mean everyone smiling like a Cheshire cat while talking on the phone or saying yes to every request as not only will you all look like lunatics and have a sore face after an hour but it won’t be effective.
I mean a solid multi-faceted plan of action covering all touch points with your clients externally and colleagues internally. Including colleagues as a touch point is essential because if you can’t have a positive relationship with your co-workers then you’re already behind the game in being an effective customer service force.
Customer service needs a little more thought, more planning, dedication and most of all effort.
So before a customer service game plan can be put into place, it’s necessary to understand what being effective really is and what it isn’t. There really should be no middle ground, effective customer service is, what I like to call the four “ings”:
- Being ahead of your customers’ expectations & delivering more than they expect
- Making your customers aware of what you are doing for them
- Having your customers feel generally grateful and not just satisfied
- Turning negatives into positives
Don’t get me wrong good customer service is...er, good. In fact it’s invaluable and means going out of your way to do everything possible to satisfy a customer but this still might not be enough in today’s business environment. It’s getting to the next step that makes the strategy truly effective. The setting of realistic expectations and not just meeting them but exceeding them, treating customers with respect and making them feel that they are the most important part of the business are the foundations of having an effective customer service strategy.
Sounds exhausting I hear you cry! Well you’re right - it’s a minefield! It takes practice and resolve to follow through with a strategy but the gains far outweigh being mediocre. A half-baked idea of a strategy that’s not properly communicated within an organisation can be more damaging than not having one at all.
A poorly dealt with complaint, issue or query can not only result in the breakdown of a customer relationship and sully the client experience but it can quickly escalate into something bigger.
By all accounts 1 dissatisfied customer tells an average of 11 other people, therefore the consequences can be far more damaging and widespread then initial perceived.
So where do you start to formulate a strategy?
You start with yourself. Each one of us has been at the end of a good and bad customer experience many times over, so always put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself; what would I really want?