As we begin the New Year, let’s submit our best ideas for improving service to all consumers.
Let’s start with my wishes for customer service in 2013:
Care about my business: In my experience, most frontline associates don’t seem to understand the concept of showing appreciation for the consumer’s business. Maybe an easier concept is to train your associates on the concept of showing the customer that you care about their business. Make the customer feel that you care that they are purchasing goods and services from your company versus your competitors. Try to communicate a clear message to consumers that your company wants to do business with them not just today, but into the future too.
Tell me what you can do: The word that consumers hate the most is “no”. “No it’s not in stock.” “No, it’s not our policy.” “No, it’s two days after our return policy.” Don’t tell the consumer what you can’t do, tell them what you can do.
Check first, then communicate: There is an old saying for carpenters; “Measure twice, cut once.” Don’t tell your customers it should be in stock, on the truck, coming in soon, etc., without checking first. Checking before responding will help to communicate the correct answer the first time.
Make it easy for me to reach your company: Whether it’s reaching a live person or finding the “Contact Us” page, make it easy and make it visible. Companies who intentionally make the option to select an operator a maze of menu options or hide how to contact the company via their online site don’t understand the concept of reducing customer effort.
Encourage longer talk times when appropriate: Consumers appreciate when they feel as if associates are giving them their full attention, listening to what they have to say, and being patient. Longer talk times are frequently necessary for securing loyalty, satisfaction and repeat business if they solve problems and make the customer feel the associate is more interested in them than saving the company money.
Make me feel welcomed: Every customer should be made to feel welcomed on every interaction. If the customer’s first impression is “hey, this person is treating me like a friend or a neighbor” from the interaction’s inception, it sets a really good tone for the entire conversation.
Answer more than my question: Don’t just answer the customer’s question. Think of other useful information you can add that can be potentially valuable to the customer and will communicate that you feel the customer is important and valuable enough to spend that extra time and guidance.
Think outside of the box: Some of the best ideas for improving customer service can be found outside of your industry. Don’t look at what your competitor is doing well, look at the top 10 companies for delivering superior customer service across all industries. You will be amazed at the ideas that can be replicated for your company.
Let your associates make mistakes: Frontline associates who can make the customer happy (within limits) will make your company look good. Empower your associates to use good judgment. Some customers may take advantage, but the majority will return for life. In turn, your associates will feel much better about working for your organization. It’s worth taking the risk.
Which other customer service wishes would you like to add to the list?