Customer Service Excellence – Does it Still Exist?
As proclaimed by President George Bush in October 1992, our observance of National Customer Week begins October 4th. Bush declared in Proclamation 6485 (and I’m paraphrasing here) that for the US to remain competitive in the global economy; everyone involved in US business, from corporate CEO’s to frontline customer service personnel, must adapt a “personal goal” to deliver “the highest quality customer service”.
Sounds great, now how do we achieve that? Many corporations spend big money to provide training to any of their employees who will be interacting with customers. And most of that training can be very effective up to a point. But no matter how many layers of personnel are assigned to dealing with customer questions and complaints, many of us have experienced examples of poor customer service from those big companies. One of the worst types of “non-service” service is being connected with someone who is obviously bored with their job, who appears distracted or who is not knowledgeable enough with the product or service to address your question or problem. Once it’s obvious that the service representative does not understand the problem or will not be able to help, you’ve likely had to ask for your call to be escalated to talk to someone, like a supervisor, who should be able to help. If the issue cannot be resolved in a reasonable timeframe and to your customer’s satisfaction once it has been escalated, you are going to have an unhappy customer.
As a consumer, I’m sure you’ll agree you don’t like the type of treatment. But now, as a business owner, how many clients can your risk losing due to poor service? You may have a great product or service and an effective sales pitch that is translating into a respectable sales volume. But if your service is lacking, your customers may not continue using your products/services. What’s more? You also risk their telling all of their friends, relatives and business associates about how you treated them. And that’s sales revenue you are never going to see. Unlike stardom, any kind of publicity is not necessarily good.
Sales and customer service go hand in hand. Yes, sales are the life-blood of a business but the way you service your clients will determine your continuing relationship with them. Providing an easy access for them to get answers to their questions quickly and correctly is a good start. But if your customers are experiencing problems using your services or products, you must be available to solve their problems quickly.
As a business owner, you have the discretion to do whatever it takes to turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied customer. But unless you have the time to be handling all customer services matters, your customer service staff should be experienced communicators, be knowledgeable about your business, and be competent and confident. Lastly, once you have someone or a staff of people with these qualities in your corner, empower them to resolve complaints quickly and to your customer satisfaction.