Improving customer service is something all companies and businesses say they focus on. But do they really? I find that many say they are doing this, yet few have a set plan on how to do it.
You must set clear expectations for customer service
To improve the customer service and satisfaction levels within a business, there must be clear expectations. “Be nice to customers” is by no means a clear expectation. Good customer service skills are not enough. Your staff truly wants to know what the expectations are and will most likely meet them once they are spelled out. What defines “Good customer service” to one person is likely very different to another. Leadership needs to clearly define what they consider excellent customer service and give clear expectations on how to treat the customers. This includes phrases to use, how to address customers, responses to questions, ways to interact with the customer that are appropriate for the business setting and culture.
Leadership must set the example
In order for any expectations to be effectively implemented, leadership must set the example. If leadership is treating the internal customers – the staff and associates poorly – it is virtually a guarantee that the external customers – the ones spending their money with you – will be treated poorly as well. Leadership is in the position to create and foster an environment that is working the in the best interest of the customer. Staff is watching, hearing, and learning all of the behaviors that management is practicing. These, in turn, are the behaviors that will be adopted by the staff and how they will treat the customer.
Improving customer service is an ongoing process
Many companies and businesses hire coaches like myself to deliver a presentation on delivering excellent customer service and hope that it is the “Magic Bullet” they are looking for to improve the service they are delivering. However, on a good day, most participants will learn perhaps one or two ideas presented to them and integrate them into their daily actions.
To be truly service oriented, leadership needs to present customer service as a main focus and objective. The service that is delivered to your customers is the most important factor in determining whether or not that customer will return to your business. Service needs to be taught, addressed, discussed and brought up at every possible opportunity. Customer service training needs to be a regular part of the company’s ongoing development. Skills need to be refreshed over time. Perhaps there are some techniques that are not delivering the desired results. By addressing the topic regularly, it can be determined if the technique is applicable or effective anymore.
The smart and successful companies are those in which leadership is cultivating a service oriented environment. They recognize the importance of customer service and the impact that it has on customer retention. They set clear expectations to the teams and provide the training in order to achieve those expectations. In the words of customer service expert Lisa Ford – “You must have clear customer service expectations. Otherwise, everything is left to chance.”