This enables your organisation to become more competitive. It can also improve your reputation, and mean that you’ll spend less time responding to complaints or handling crises.
Key skills include:
Every organization has to deliver on its promise to customers. If you don’t “come up with the goods,” you let your customers down at the most basic level. They won’t feel able to trust your team or your business, and they certainly won’t be happy.
Sometimes, the underlying problem might be out of your control. Perhaps the logistics department is struggling to keep up with orders, your website has some bugs that need to be fixed, or a supplier has delivered poor-quality parts. But don’t give up: identify the areas where your team does have influence, and act on those.
For example, if your team members are responsible for handling queries or complaints, encourage them to be fast and accurate. Organise briefings for them so that they can give customers consistent and up-to-date information. If it’s appropriate, post updates online when a problem occurs, and notify your customers when it’s fixed. And share customer feedback with other departments, so they can improve their own reliability, too.
Whatever your particular business and processes, you’ll always be more reliable if your team has a Customer Service Mindset. In his book, /community/BookInsights/WintheCustomer.php “Win the Customer: 70 Simple Rules for Sensational Service,” Flavio Martins says, “Service should be part of the behaviour, thoughts and actions of everyone in the organisation. It should inspire people, encourage their development, and transform their work, as well as the customer’s experience.”
How clear is it to your customers that your service is reliable? For example, they need to know that their credit card details are secure, so your systems must be up to the job, and you must be able to demonstrate that you have the necessary safeguards in place.
Customers also want to be sure that they’re buying the right product for their needs. If your business is online, they must be able to find the relevant information quickly and easily. And they may want to contact your team to find out more, so it’s vital that your representatives are polite and well-informed.
Regular communication with your operational or product development teams, for example, can break down silos and help to ensure that your team has a broad understanding of the products or services that your organisation offers.
You can also carry out a training needs assessment to address any gaps in your team members’ technical abilities, or in their “soft” skills. This will enable them to deliver customer service with confidence and credibility.
Throughout, be sure to support your people practically and emotionally, and to encourage them to do the same for one another. This will likely increase their resilience, despite the emotional labor of dealing with problems or complaints. Team members who feel valued and engaged will feel more loyalty to your organisation, and their enthusiasm will shine through in their customer service.
Do all of your communications with your customers deliver a message that’s consistent with your brand, and with their needs? To build strong customer relationships, your social media and website, your printed material and packaging, and your team’s knowledge and skills should all align to form a recognisable and trustworthy identity.
To achieve this, your systems and infrastructure also need to be robust enough to support your people effectively. You may not be able to make such resourcing decisions yourself, so develop your powers of persuasion and negotiation to ensure that your team has what it needs to do the best job possible.
Staff turnover can be a good indicator of how your people feel about their work. If they find their jobs too tough, they’ll be tempted to leave, or they may even be at risk of burnout. But, if they feel supported and /community/Bite-SizedTraining/Empowerment.phpempowered, they’ll be proud and happy to stay, and will likely be an asset to your business.
It’s essential that you and your team see things from the customers’ point of view. If you do, you’ll gain a better understanding of their thoughts, actions and needs, care about their experience, and communicate with them more effectively.
You can gain this perspective by working on your empathy and listening skills, and by learning how to build rapport. And you can develop an even deeper knowledge of your customers with surveys, business ethnography, skilled use of social media, and Customer Experience Mapping.
If you manage complaints and feedback continuously, rather than just responding to crises as they arise, you’ll be able to preempt future problems. And, when things do go wrong, you can draw on the positivity that you’ve built up with your customers, and manage their expectations. If unhappy customers know that you’ll do everything you can to make amends, they’ll be less likely to “jump ship” to a competitor or share damaging comments online.
Aspire to the highest level of Miller and Heiman’s Buy-Sell Hierarchy. At level one, you are simply providing a product or service. But, at level five, you’re helping your customers to solve their own problems – you become indispensable!
Every interaction that your organization has with a customer is a chance to build a relationship, to increase goodwill, and to learn. And, if your people are listening carefully and feel empowered to take action, they can drive change and innovation.
For example, online clothes retailer Zappos® sets no time limits on its employees’ calls with customers, has no targets for the number of calls they should complete in a shift, and doesn’t script conversations. Instead, the priority is to be personal and thorough, and to build customer loyalty.
Zappos is a world leader in adding what it calls “wow.” Customers can speak to the same person each time they call, and they receive personalised cards, gifts and services in response to complaints. If you use a chatbot on your website, ensure that your customers know that they are talking to a chatbot, and that they can speak to a human if they need to. Chatbots are a great way to automate routine customer service tasks, but they are likely unable to handle more complex inquiries. This can quickly become frustrating for the user.