Customer Satisfaction, Guaranteed
Customer service is no longer a differentiator. Every business makes the same promises, and everyone says that they put their customers first. But do you? Here are three ways to up your customer-centric game.
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It's a stock standard differentiator that every company uses: Customer service. And yet so many businesses are anything but customer-centric. Whether you're in a B2C or B2B environment, here are three areas you could improve today.
1. GUARANTEE YOUR SERVICE
If you don't believe in your service, you can't expect anyone else to. So, guarantee your service. This should not just be an empty phrase — back up your guarantee with a money-back promise.
Advertise that promise in your business, on your website and in your communications. That tells your customers, "We have such confidence in our service, and we're so determined to be great that we put our money where our mouth is."
The benefits of a money-back guarantee:
- It encourages first-time customers to try your services.
- It forces your team to keep standards high and focus on results, as slip-ups will hurt your business immediately.
- It fosters pride in your business. "Our service is 100% guaranteed to be great!"
- It is a selling point. "At Venus Video Games, satisfaction is guaranteed, or your money back!"
- It sets you apart from your competitors. Would you rather try a new store that offers a money-back guarantee, or one that doesn't?
We implemented this at the Brazen Head at the Leaping Frog Centre, Fourways, offering a money-back guarantee on all our meals. Staff were reluctant at first, but the guarantee forced us to maintain standards at our front and back of house. In the end, we only had to honour the guarantee once in eight months.
2. COMPLAINTS: RELATE AND RECOVER
Often, what a customer wants most from a company is to be treated like a person. They want real, authentic, human interaction.
Mostly, this human kindness will come while you cater perfectly to their every need, deliver the goods and services efficiently and then send them on their way with a massive smile on their face.
But every now and then things will go wrong. The customer won't get exactly what they were looking for, the service won't be 100%, or there will be some kind of misunderstanding.
This is unfortunate and of course nobody wants it to happen, but occasionally it does. If handled properly, these hiccups can be an opportunity to improve customer relations, build real human interaction and turn an unhappy customer into a happy one.
When a customer calls into your bank branch to complain that an unauthorised debit order was taken off her account, treat the person like you would like to be treated. Here is a good procedure to follow that fixes the problem while building a real human interaction.
- Understand the problem. Listen carefully and make sure you know exactly what the client's complaint is.
- Apologise. It doesn't matter if they actually signed an authorisation and it's technically their fault. This isn't about who's right and who's wrong. It's about building a relationship of good customer service.
- Take immediate action to fix the problem. In this case, reverse the debit order.
- Ensure it doesn't happen again. That means working out who authorised the debit, and why and adjusting your systems.
If you go through this process as efficiently and as pleasantly as you can, you might find the customer comes out the other side in a pretty good mood. Their complaint has been acknowledged, they've got an apology and it's been sorted out.
Service Tip: Don't take customer complaints personally. They are part of your job, and your role is to handle them professionally. When a passenger of your airline says, "You've lost my bag!" they don't mean it was you personally who lost it. But in this case, you represent your airline, so you should take responsibility, apologise and sort it out.
3. USE YOUR OWN SERVICES
There's no better way to check what your company's service is like than by being your own customer. Of course, if people recognise you as one of their colleagues, they'll be on their best behaviour, so use one of your digital channels, phone up or use a branch where they don't know you.
Now pretend you're a customer looking to make a purchase, but without too much knowledge of your systems. You're a person off the street, as it were. What is your service experience like?
Here are some ways you can use your own services:
- Try to get hold of your company. How easy is it to find your details? Is your website clear and logical, is your phone number prominently displayed? How is the phone answer
- Try to make a purchase. Is it easy? Is your query handled efficiently and quickly? Most importantly, what's the service like? Are the staff friendly, positive and dynamic? Do they go the extra mile to deliver exceptional service? Do they build relationships, do they provide help beyond just making the sale?
- Phone to complain. Use the customer-care line, or website. You've been advertising this channel for years — what actually happens when someone uses it? Are complaints handled efficiently and in a positive spirit?
- Leave a message. You can do this by voicemail, text or email. Does anyone get back to you?
- Be inconvenient. Call over the weekend, after-hours, during lunch, or even during a busy period. Are the staff just as keen to help you? Can you even get hold of anyone?
- Try to get hold of yourself. When last did you listen to your own voice message? What does the signature say at the bottom of your email? What does your switchboard operator say when answering the phone?