Customer service and customer satisfaction is an attitude and a culture that starts with the owner/ founder/CEO and travels down to every single employee. It is a total team effort that everyone must buy into from day one on the job. For More Than Perfect ® customer service, it can never be an “it’s not my job” mentality, but more importantly a “how can I help” approach.
Repeat business and customer loyalty are more important than ever before to the bottom line of every business. Attitude, training, and empowerment are three key areas that must be stressed at all times to maximize the effort of all employees. It’s a win-win situation for customers, employees, and businesses.
Companies that epitomize a customer service culture share common characteristics as a way of life, writes Forbes columnist Micah Solomon. His article and five others I’ve collected this year are ideal recommended reading and help drive the importance of creating a culture of service that starts by exceeding customer expectation every day.
The travel and hospitality industries are stepping up their game in trying to make their customers their best source of advertising, as described in this article from IT and business process provider TELUS International. Making your customers raving brand evangelists is leading to increased profits and customer loyalty. According to Ron Kaufman, author of Uplifting Service, white glove service consists of personalization, memorization, anticipation, and response to requests. Once companies can start remembering names (the sweetest sound to anyone’s ears) and previous interactions, they can anticipate customer returns.
For instance, in my industry (the cruise industry) once a waiter knows a guest prefers ice tea with their meals, a glass of ice tea will be waiting on the table before they arrive for the rest of the cruise. The same thing will happen if they enjoy chocolate ice cream every night, or if they request a bucket of ice in their stateroom every evening. Customers remember the fact that they are remembered, and they like to remain loyal to the businesses that remember them.
This interesting video from Harvard Business Review discusses what customers are looking for in a customer service rep, and how self-service customer service is changing the way calls are handled. More and more people are using self-service (FAQs, video, message boards, etc.) to find answers to their basic customer service questions, but when the questions or complaints can’t be rectified on the first go-round, that’s when certain types of customer service personalities come into play. Is it better to have an “empathizer,” “hard-worker,” “innovator,” or “controller” handle the call? The data reveals some surprising results. Maybe it’s time to do a personality profile on your customer service reps!
Marketer Steven MacDonald, writing for European CRM provider Super Office, drives home the point that customer service is still the differentiator on whether your customers will do business with you again, stay loyal to your brand, and will refer you to family, friends, and neighbors.
Businesses must remember that to stand out in the global economy, you must exceed expectations every time, no matter what the product or service might be. Customers expect more and more, and if you deliver, they will spend more and more of their hard-earned money once the trust factor has been established. Even if a problem arises, if it is managed correctly the first time and in a timely manner, odds are that the customer will do business with you again. Do not ignore your customers, or they will find someone who takes them seriously.
Starbucks is a great example of a company that has total buy-in from the executive level on down to every employee. New CEO Kevin Johnson is taking the reins from Howard Schultz and committing the company to weighty social issues he feels passionate about, reports Seattle Times business journalist Janet Tu. From hiring veterans and their spouses, championing sustainability issues, or using tech to increase growth, the goal is to be around for many years to come all while serving individual communities and the people who live there. They are continuing to develop new tools to help the customer on every step of their experience.
Communication has been, still is, and always will be at the core of every successful business. The problem businesses face now is that there are a variety of ways for consumers to communicate, and they want to know you are listening.
Despite all the technological advances, the most popular way for consumers to communicate, especially if it is a customer service issue, is by phone. And technology has impacted how we use the phone.
Are calls picked up by a real person, or does it go to an automated machine that (hopefully) directs the call to the right person? Does it go immediately to voicemail where a message has to be left, and (hopefully) someone will return the call? How long is the longest hold time you want your customers to stay on the phone waiting for you? What tone of voice comes across to the customer? Is someone monitoring your social media channels? (Do you have social media channels?) In this article from Entrepreneur magazine, writer Mike Taylor starts the conversation you need to have.
A Final Word
Outstanding communication skills, exceptional customer service, and top-notch management will always result in higher customer satisfaction, higher profits, and higher employee loyalty and productivity.
In my keynote addresses and workshops for companies, associations, and other customer-facing organizations, I share stories from 30 years as a service culture expert. Ready to learn the best practices that guarantee your customers have “the experience of a lifetime” in every encounter? Reach out anytime to get started.