How Much Emphasis Do You Place On Customer Service In Your BusinessBy Sue Brooks on Thu, 05/10/2012 - 17:18
The time and money invested in customer service will be repaid by increased customer loyalty and you will spend less retaining existing customers that you would looking for new ones.
The focus placed on customer care differentiates you from your competitors and you also avoid the damage caused by competing solely on price. I’m sure we can all think of examples where competing on price has damaged a company’s margins and also devalued the offering in consumers minds.
Some businesses, such as John Lewis, have realised the importance of customer service for some time and have started to use their reputation for customer care to attract new customers.
The Institute of Customer Service (ICS) has calculated that around half of the companies on this chart who have suffered serious falls in sales are 10% below the sector average for customer service ratings. Customer care is certainly not the only thing influencing a business’s success, but with 85% of UK consumers saying they choose retailers based on customer service*, it’s an important factor.
*Fly Research consumer survey, September 2011
How do you define excellent customer service?
I’m sure you’ve all purchased at least one item from those companies above, do you recall, how this was handled? Dissatisfied customers use their bad experience to inform family and friends at work and at social gatherings and unfortunately their custom, in the majority of cases, is lost forever.
So what can you expect from a company that prides itself on it’s customer service:-
· The phone is answered within 3 rings
· Customers are listened to carefully and attentively
· Promises made to customers are kept
· Existing customers can be identified with access to sales history data
· Complaints are dealt with promptly and politely
· A company complaints procedure is used and transparent for both parties to see/follow
· Customer service personnel are helpful and trained to use their own initiative in order to keep the customer happy
How do your customers rate your service?
Do you actually know how they rate your customer service, when was the last time you asked them?
Ask your customers on a regular basis how they rate your customer service and keep a log of each time the customer is asked and whether they obliged or declined. Make it easy for customers to provide feedback by displaying a standard feedback form whether it’s available in your premises, on your website, email or telephone.
If you don’t know how they feel, how can you turn disgruntled customers into loyal customers?
You may not have a Customer Service Department or even considered appointing someone responsible for the role. For Customer Service staff to be effective they need a good telephone manner, excellent listening skills, the ability to remain calm and defuse anger and, most importantly, good problem solving skills to build trust and rapport between the two parties.
Close contact with the sales department will ensure that together they can take responsibility for managing your customers satisfaction as well as grow and develop the relationship. Check that anyone responsible for customer service is consistently working to a high standard and make sure you set benchmarks to measure their success.
Good service can give you a competitive advantage as demonstrated by Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Boots and bad customer service would be welcome by your competitors!