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Customer service?

Oct 23, 2009

As a business owner I always hear about customer service, I think my employees provide that but how do I really know?  What can I do to improve the elusive "customer service"?     Ann,  Torrington

By: Anya Petersen-Frey, Regional Director, WyomingEntrepreneur.biz

 

It’s a fact of doing business.  To stay competitive, you must constantly monitor the quality of the customer service you offer.  If the first experience is poor, you may never have a chance to change that expectation.  The customer will find another supplier.  Yet, customer service is a buzzword that like many others has lost its significance.  It’s time to revisit this valuable asset.

 

Every single contact that your business has with its customers, internal and external, either enhances or corrodes that relationship.  This includes letters you send, advertisements you run and phone calls you make or answer.  This includes employee contact and vendor contact.  So, your business is only as good as your worst employee!

 

Try to see your business through your customers’ eyes.  Create systems that will encourage a positive customer service experience.  Let your customer feel valued and appreciated.   Your customers may range in age from 12 to over 80.  They come from varied ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds.  They are very diverse in their tastes.  They are also more educated, technologically savvy and wealthier than any previous group of consumers. Recognize that they are less tolerant of mistakes and are demanding higher levels of service.

 

Try to see your business through your employee’s eyes.  One of the goals of customer service training is to instill in your employees that it is their business too.  Customer service must be viewed as company etiquette.  If employees are not treated will, it’s tough for them to treat others properly. 

 

Often the difference between a good company and a poorly run company is not always demonstrated when things run smoothly; the difference is how they handle situations when there is a mistake.  Create a feedback loop for customers and employees.

 

Ten Commandments of Customer Service: As shared by Inc. Magazine (2002), and still holds true today

  1. Care about your employees and treat them well.  Employee relations mirror your customer relations.
  2. Praise and recognize your employees often.  The more, the better and don’t just leave it to ‘employee of the month’ programs.
  3. Know and listen to your customers.  If you don’t really know your customers, how can you value them?
  4. Believe that customer service drives profit.  Your bottom line can be positively impacted if your service is good enough.
  5. Train and empower your people.  How can you expect employees to handle difficult customers if you’ve never taught them how to do it?
  6. Clarify your service strategy.  Are you going to be a Ritz Carlton or a McDonalds as far as service goes?  How far are you willing to go to achieve the level of service you desire?
  7. Weed out policies and procedures that are customer unfriendly.  For example, is your return policy easy to understand and implement? 
  8. The company culture must be fanatical about customer service.  As Home Depot states: “If you’re not serving the customer, you’d better be serving someone who is”.
  9. Continually improve your service levels.  Everyone in your business needs to continually look for ways to improve service.  Develop systems to capture everyone’s ideas and implement the best of them.
  10. Remember that everyone has customers.  Internal customer service is just as important as external customer service. 


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Category: Marketing

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