Getting customer service right is a vital ingredient in company growth, Shaun Thomson tells us.
Any business that doesn’t subscribe to the “customer is king” mantra faces an uphill struggle to grow their company – happy customers recommend services to others and ultimately buy more of them too. Ensuring that you are getting customer service right is a no-brainer. However, knowing that customer service is a priority and ensuring that you are consistently delivering good customer service are two different thing entirely.
Take The Temperature
Firstly it is important to understand what constitutes “good customer service”. Ultimately this standard is dictated by the thoughts of your current customers. As with all things, customer expectations are increasing all the time. What was considered “good” two years ago might now be the “norm” or even the minimum expectation just to be in business.
With that in mind, step one of getting customer service right is to identify how you are currently faring in delivering “good” customer service, so you know exactly how much work needs to be done to improve it. This can be achieved via an initial customer satisfaction survey, which then needs to be consistently measured so you can track the improvement.
It is also important to be clear that today, customer service should be proactive and personalised.
Previously it was expected that customer service should be a reactionary business function; customers would call or email the business with issues and speak to a customer service representative. With the advent of new technologies this is changing – many businesses have implemented ways that customers can be proactively contacted, with software that tells the business if there is a problem with a customer’s product or service. Also, many businesses are proactively monitoring social media for mentions of their company and then contacting customers that are complaining about their company.
Many businesses have also caught onto the fact that customers want to be treated as individuals, not just another number. Having a function that pulls up a customer’s full history with the company will enable the customer service representative to speak with more confidence and insight.
Equipping The Team
Companies need to have a major paradigm shift in how they think of their customer service teams, moving away from treating them as a cost and moving them to being an investment for the company. People don’t buy products or services – they buy outcomes. So when companies invest in their customer services team they are buying customer loyalty, more sales, higher margins and keeping the competitors out of an account. Richard Branson says it well: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
Enabling the team to be accountable is also a great way to enhance the customer experience. By being more accountable, the customer service representative can more confidently and quickly address a customer problem. However, to be accountable they must be and feel empowered to get these things done. Accountability is impossible without empowerment.
Sharing The Knowledge
Customer service doesn’t start and end with customers. It must permeate, throughout the company via excellent communication and integration between departments. The customer service team is at the coalface of the business and have the best insight into how customers are feeling and what they want. Enabling mechanisms to share this information will benefit the whole business. The key is having a process within their company for how to handle these opportunities.
Top Customer Service Tips.
- Do attract the best staff – offer excellent salaries and benefits packages to get the best in the industry.
- Carefully screen candidates – consider psychometric testing and a longer interview process to ensure that you only offer jobs to candidates that will fit in well with your company and stay with the business.
- Reward staff – staff need to feel recognised and valued, and be incentivised to over-deliver-complacency leads to demotivation.
- Have a process for career development – to retain great staff be sure to regularly communicate what milestones they need to hit to progress with the company.
- Equip staff with necessary materials – make sure that new staff have a clear “on-boarding” process, which includes scripts and FAQ.
- Provide training – ensure that you invest in ongoing training for staff
- Have a mechanism for customer feedback – provide them with ways to garner customer sentiment and feedback, this information is invaluable
- Regularly review customer feedback – be sure to keep measuring and improving customer feedback and have a mechanism for implementing improvements.