Great customer service seems to be a lost art for many companies. As consumers, we put up with long hold times, rude employees and must work diligently just to get our basic questions answered.
One of the easiest ways to set your company apart from your competition is to provide excellent customer service. Here are some tips to help you accomplish that.
- Always put the customer first. This sounds trite, but it is a mindset. From day one, teach employees that any customer facing action is their first priority. Customer calls are to be returned before the deposit is taken to the bank. Appointments are scheduled with ample time to complete the session so that the next customer isn't left waiting. These are examples that show a commitment to the customer experience.
- Look at every customer transaction. We often put procedures into place for the most obvious customer transactions, but fail to address others. These "other" transactions may be a source of dissatisfaction to your customers. Examine, for example, how long customers sit on hold before being answered, and whether or not customers have to deal with a transaction via mail even after handling it over the phone. All these little things add up.
- Be friendly. This should go without saying, but it's amazing how often businesses are rude to their customers. As an employer, you should have a "zero tolerance" for rudeness. Customers are sometimes rude, it's true, but employees must be trained to handle this behavior without engaging in it themselves. In addition, if the rest of the customer service issues are addressed, you'll have fewer rude customers to deal with.
- Train, train, train. One of the biggest consumer complaints about customer service is that employees simply don't know what they're doing. If an employee cannot answer most customer questions, that employee should not yet be customer facing.
- Document customer interactions for review at staff meetings or training events. When an employee is faced with a particularly difficult or brand new customer situation, it's a great training opportunity for everyone. Review the situation and make decisions about how to handle that situation in the future.
With these five tips, your organization will be well on your way to ensuring that your customers receive excellent customer service. It takes work but is critical to retaining those customers you've worked so hard to acquire.