No company wants to admit it to occasionally dropping the ball. But when you’re employing human beings, mistakes are bound to happen. On the other side of the equation, level-headed customers understand that experiencing minor inconveniences is bound to happen. Such as a delay in a product shipment or the rescheduling of an appointment. But in both of these instances, at the proverbial intersection where avoidable and unavoidable problems meet, the most successful companies are often those with a focus on providing solid customer service.
Still not sold on the value of a customer-centric approach to business? According to the American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer, about one-third of Americans said they would consider switching companies after just one instance of bad service. If that statistic was enough to open your eyes and make you think about your own approach, we’re here to help. We’ve put together some ideas around customer service as a business principle and how to foster that type of culture company-wide.
Shake up the norm whenever and wherever it’s needed
One of the most overlooked traits of customer-service driven companies is the fact that they are constantly striving for improvement. These progressions come in many different forms. From the phone tree the customer encounters when they call, to the payment methods the company accepts, to its hours of operation. The most important factor in all of this is that the company is making these enhancements with the customer in mind.
Frequently ask for feedback
Before you can make improvements that benefit the customer, you’ll need to get a sense of what areas aren’t working. To do that, you must collect customer feedback at various points of their customer experience. One of the best ways to solicit this information is through surveying. Customers can complete these surveys either in person, over the phone or via email.
You may even be able to incentivize customers. Offer a discount on future goods or services if they complete a survey. Not only will your customers appreciate the coupon, but they’ll feel like their opinion means something.
Measure and track customer service-related metrics
At the end of the day, every company wants to make money, right? In order to monitor progress and how successful the business is at making money, there are specific metrics you must measure and track accordingly. The same approach applies to a business that wants to instill a strong culture of customer service across the enterprise.
It’s critical that you implement customer service-themed metrics into your company’s key performance indicators. Hold employees accountable for meeting the related goals. Using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goals as part of that strategy will ensure your employees understand what you’re asking of them. If you do implement the surveys we talked about in the last tip, you can always incorporate questions that you can anchor to your goals.
Stay current with the rest of your industry
There’s a reason why companies who make televisions now only produce the sleek, thin designs we see today. One innovator found a way to make a TV set less bulky and more attractive. The other manufacturers simply followed suit. What do you think happened to those companies who refused to adapt to the new design? They’re probably no longer in business.
If your industry is in the midst of sweeping changes, plan for your company to ride the wave as well. Customers will expect you to offer the latest-and-greatest designs or services. If you don’t, or if you refuse to change course, be prepared for a throng of angry customers.
Emphasize customer service with all employees, not just those that are customer-facing
While some employees may not believe it, every employee in your organization has an impact on customer service — and it’s up to you to make sure they understand that. Employees who don’t have customer-facing roles still play a part in how a customer feels about your brand. Or how they interact with your products.
As an exercise, ask each employee how they think their job contributes to customer service and satisfaction. Talk collaboratively among the department so that everyone recognizes how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Good customer service can be the difference in a company that thrives and one that fails to survive. If you’re interested in hearing more about how we’ve helped utilities and energy co-ops improve their customer service efforts, contact us today.