Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, know I believe that great customer service, delivered consistently, doesn’t happen by chance. Companies that consistently meet or exceed their customers’ expectations have taken the time to develop a service strategy that includes clearly outlined service expectations (based on well-understood customer expectations), training, measurement, reward and recognition tactics.
Below is an excerpt from my soon to be completed book ‘Customer Service from the Inside Out’ that outlines four rules to keep in mind when developing a customer service strategy for your company.
Rule Number 1: Put the Customer First
You’ve seen the slogans. Perhaps your company even has one.
- We are number one in service.
- Where the customer comes first.
- Come for the price, stay for the service.
It’s not that service slogans are wrong; it’s just that very often the slogans are created as a marketing tool instead of an actual service promise. A lot of companies focus on the product first instead of on the customer. We go into business wanting (hoping?) to provide good service, but there is no concrete plan on how to deliver the implied promise.
Rule Number 2: It’s the customer’s perception that matters
There is very often a huge disconnect between how often organizations believe they deliver good or great service and how often customers believe they receive it.
Some of that is simply because the people within those organizations are faced with the daunting and challenging task of hiring, training, scheduling, coaching, mentoring, ordering, reporting… the list goes on and on. Supplies are late, weather is bad, someone calls in sick and yet, somehow, in spite of all the challenges, the business is open and customers are coming in the door. We give ourselves a lot of credit for the challenges we overcome on a regular basis.
Go ahead, pat yourself on the back. After all someone has to! Just don’t expect your customers to do so. They’ll pat you on the back, give you figurative high fives, maybe even the occasional real one, if and when their expectations are consistently met and even exceeded.
Rule Number 3: Service teams provide the service they receive.
If you want your service team to provide great service, provide them with great service. If you want them to value and respect their customers, value and respect them. If you want your service team to acknowledge your customers, acknowledge your service team. Say good morning, good afternoon. Ask them about their day. Know their names!
Disgruntled service providers are usually disgruntled employees. Don’t assume it’s their bad attitude. Make sure you are not a contributing factor.
Rule Number 4: Make This a Team Effort
Consistently delivering good to great service is not the responsibility of just one or two people. It doesn’t matter if someone works front-of-house or back-of-house. It doesn’t matter if they answer phones at front reception or sit in a corner office. Everyone plays a role in the overall customer service experience.
It takes a team to build a strong customer service strategy. As the leader of a service team, if you want your team members to buy into the process, include them in it. Identify key players on your team who can help you build your customer service strategy. Who will talk to other team members to get ideas and input? Who has the trust of other team members? Who has great listening skills? Those are the people you want to pull into this very important project.
Are there some other rules you can think of? Please feel free to share them here.