Everyone is in Customer Service
by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
We are all in customer service. It doesn’t matter what position you hold within an organization you can affect the customer experience. Often it is an indirect impact, but you can affect the overall experience just the same. Since we start the Athena Alliance we have had many situations where we provided customer service training to internal departments. A recent example of this was a service company who was having difficulties between the various departments and the finance department. The finance personnel didn’t realize the impact they were having on the other departments ability to service the customer in a timely manner. After the training, things improved drastically.
Everyone in an organization should have customer service excellence as a focus. Customers have many choices these days and depending on your industry they can move their business without too much difficulty. In sales we always talk about the importance of building rapport and trust. It is equally, if not more important when it comes to the service we provide our clients. Without our customers we have no business. Everyone needs to understand this!
I am sure I am no different than anyone reading this blog and have come to expect the employees of the companies I deal with to treat me with respect – all the time, not once in awhile. I have read many stories over the years about how some hotels have empowered their people to “go the extra mile” when needed. Companies that adopt this philosophy don’t make excuses, pass the buck or point fingers when a customer calls to complain. Their staff does what it takes to WOW their customers. This doesn’t mean you will do everything your customer asks (especially if it doesn’t make good business sense for your organization), but it does mean the customer has the experience of being heard and respected. It is extremely important to tell the truth even if it isn’t what the customer wants to hear. I have had the experience where I have literally had to chase a customer service person for three weeks only to find out they couldn’t help me. What a waste of time and energy. I would never consider doing business with them again. I would have stayed their customer if they had said right from the beginning it wasn’t something they did. I could have gone elsewhere and still felt OK to continue with them.
Take a minute now and close your eyes. Think about an exceptional customer experience you have had in the past. What made it so special? Do your customers experience service like that from your company? If not, what has to change? Who needs to be involved to make the change?
How often do you ask your customers about their experience?
One of my personal pet peeves (maybe because I am a boomer) is when everything is automated, when there is no phone number to call in the event I have a problem. Sometimes the phone number is so buried on the website it is next to impossible to find. I say put it front and center!
I have listed three keys to delivering exceptional customer service every time!
- Learn what can be a hindrance to good service first. Are there systems or policies and procedures that affect the ability of the customer service rep to perform at their peak?
- Ensure everyone has adequate training. Make sure your employees know how to handle difficult situations, upset or irate customers. This is critical when the emotions are high.
- Have aone-touch approach. What I mean by this is when a customer calls, that as much as possible they are not passed from one department to another. It can happen of course from time to time but it should be the exception not the norm.
The old saying “treat people the way you want to be treated” may not apply anymore. The newer version of “treat people the way THEY want to be treated” is the better approach.
Remember your customers are your best advertising, make them brag about you!