When it comes to turning your business into a vehicle for the delivery of world-class customer service, the buck stops very much with those at the top of the tree.
Your employees may be out there in the trenches doing their best to serve your customers but they can only go as far as you allow them to.
The responsibility for ensuring a commitment to excellence in customer service across all levels of your firm rests with you as the leader.
Here are seven core customer service concepts, on how to improve your customer service, that will help you consistently set the right tone and drive results.
- Systems Trump Smiles
A warm, friendly smile goes a long way in any one-off customer service encounter but it’s no substitute for the type of long-term satisfaction that a well-run business with carefully maintained systems naturally inculcates in its customers over time.
Consumers value predictable quality over nearly everything else precisely because it is so hard to find on a consistent basis. Systems thinking is the key to providing this to your customers. Get on it.
- Smiles Make A Good System Great
Once you’ve got your proverbial house in order behind the scenes, that extra layer of genuine warmth and engagement that a friendly approach provides will lift any encounter from good to great in the minds of your customers.
Naturally you’re seeking to provide this type of natural engagement from the very beginning but it really starts to pay off when it’s no longer being used to cover up avoidable mistakes.
- Don’t Limit Your Customer Service Horizons
It should go without saying that you’re looking to establish your company as a market leader in the sense of customer service in your current market segment.
Don’t limit your ambition to the pond you happen to be swimming in however.
Benchmark yourself against the best from industries far and wide and always look to be learning from other types of businesses.
If you’re in retail, is there a tip you can take from the world of haute cuisine? Or vice versa? What can a manufacturer learn from a retailer or wholesaler?
Stay hungry for input from unlikely sources. Inspiration is everywhere once you know how to start looking.
- Hiring Is The Most Important Decision Your Business Can Make
Companies across nearly every business category consistently underestimate the impact – both positive and negative – that the quality of their hiring makes long term.
This is nowhere more obvious than when it comes to delivering world-class customer service.
It is orders of magnitude easier to simply hire people who are naturally inclined towards delivering this rather than trying to browbeat the concept into those unwilling to learn.
Qualities such as warmth, empathy, teamwork and conscientiousness can all certainly be encouraged but they are extremely hard to create from barren ground.
Screen any potentially customer-facing employees you are considering thoroughly to save yourself an awful lot of long-term hassle.
- Support Your Team
Put simply, if your employees don’t feel supported by your company they will naturally be disinclined to go the extra mile in supporting customers on your behalf.
Whether it’s in terms of salaries, working conditions or modes of inter-office communication, your employees need to feel you have their best interests at heart if you seriously expect them to deliver to the outside world.
- Don’t Micro-manage
When it comes to the day-to-day reality of customer service, your team is going to need to be able to think on its feet.
Customer service interactions are, by their nature, unpredictable and if you’ve scared any prospect of being able to think independently out of your employees through constant micro-managing, they will be at a loss to deal with anything even slightly out of the ordinary.
Empowering your team to take ownership of as many micro-decisions as possible in an appropriate way is an excellent means of building both internal company confidence and external resilience in the face of customers’ demands.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Manage
Micro-managing is very much to be avoided but active management is a must.
What do we mean by active in this context? It’s simple. Implementing all of the points we’ve covered so far is a process that will have to be managed.
Someone is going to have to step up to the plate and oversee the implementation of these customer service fundamentals and make sure standards are being maintained.
That person is more than likely going to be you. Don’t be afraid to take ownership of this.
Start with these seven core customer concepts and you’re setting yourself and your employees on a course to long-term customer satisfaction and a growing reputation in your field.