With the holiday season just beginning, businesses are scrambling to get more customers and show more sales. However, retail and business to business (B2B) research continues to suggest businesses are failing to deliver adequate to exceptional customer service. Poor customer service dramatically affects the bottom line of every organization. Hence, all that scrambling may be for naught.
The 2005 American Customer Satisfaction Index, a survey conducted by the University of Michigan, is at one of its lowest levels in the past 10 years. IBM survey of 2004 Christmas shoppers revealed poor customer service was second only to long lines. Good customer service is essential in developing loyal customers who are only a click or a few steps from visiting your competitors.
1. Assess Your Organization
Customer service begins with the internal customer also known as your employees. Assess your organization from the top down. In many cases, poor customer service is a symptom of a more serious undiscovered problem. HINT: Incorporate proven criteria such as Baldrige to determine what you do well and where you need to improve.
2. Assess Your Customer Service Training
Poor customer service is not because your employees don’t know how to, but probably more often than not they don’t want to. If your customer service training focuses only on knowledge and skills, you are draining your K. A. S. H. Box because you are failing to address attitudes and habits.
3. Don’t Assume Employees Know What Good Customer Service Is
With the world a far different place than 50, 30 or even 10 years ago, don’t assume that your potential and even current employees know what good customer service is. Specifically define what good customer service is. HINT: Good customer service is when a customer comes back, spends more and doesn’t visit the competitor.
4. Deliver Customer Service Training in Real Time
Customer service training should extend beyond the procedures and policies. Infuse good communication skills and professional appearance within your learning sessions. Create mentors that new employees can job shadow.
5. Ask Potential or Existing Employees If They Buy From You?
If you are a retail chain, ask employees if they have ever bought from you? What did they like about your store or business? Many businesses ask the “Why do you want to work here?” question. Why not dig a little deeper?
6. Ask Yourself If You Would Buy From You? This question may sound ridiculous, but would you buy from you?
7. Focus on Delivering Exceptional Customer Service
Exceptional customer service is when a customer brings or directs a new customer to your business.
Customer service is the beginning and the end for any business. All businesses are in customer service because without customers there would be no business. If your customer service is not at the exceptional level, then you are missing incredible opportunities to build your business and you are wasting a lot of money and resources. And, if that isn't bad enough, your poor customer service is growing your competitor's business.
Copyright 2005(c) Leanne Hoagland-Smith, M. S.
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