As you can probably tell by the tone of some of my recent writings, I’m on a real exploration journey to discover the very best customer service ideas I can find. I have read a number of books and talked to a number of people on my search to find the best examples of not just good customer service but GREAT customer service.
Customer service is the real key to successful sales growth. Customer acquisition is so expensive, and time consuming that we all need to be doing, all that we can to retain those dear customers once we have gone through the blood, sweat, and tears of attaining them.
Great customer service is the single most important element to a company’s success. The better your customer service, the better your customer retention, and the more successful your company will be.
The fascinating thing about great customer service…or poor customer service, is that it crosses all markets, all products, all technologies. If you are building circuit boards, your customer service is not only being measured against your PCB fabricator competitors, but you are also being measured against Disney and Nordstrom’s, and The Ritz Carlton. Customer service is universal and should be treated as such. There is some pretty stiff competition out there.
One fact that I can never get out of my head is that when is customer is treated right, she will tell at least 50 people about it. That’s pretty good right? But when a customer is treated poorly, 250 people will hear about it. Wow! those are some odds. 5 to 1 in favor of poor customer service. That alone should make us all realize how truly important a factor great customer service is to your company’s success.
This week I have been reading a book by Shep Hyken called, AMAZE Every Customer Every Time: 52 tools for delivering the most amazing customer service in the Planet. This is an excellent resource when it comes to finding inspirational ways to amaze your customers.
In one of the most striking chapters in the book, Mr. Hyken talks about internal and external customers; the internal customer being if course your own company’s team. He references Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines whose strongest philosophy was to put his associates first. even before his customers. He felt that if he could make his associates happy and delighted with the company then they would delight their customers as well. He uses this philosophy, to show how by amazing your employees, you will empower them to amaze your customers as well. Author Hyken, talks about “moments” different times when your employees have the option to shine by delivering amazing customer service.
From the book:
- A Moment of Magic: this is when the customer receives above average service.
- A Moment of Truth: This is anytime a customer has an opportunity to form am impression.
- A Moment of Misery: This is what happens when the moment of truth is mishandled.
- Moments of Misery can be turned into moments of magic with good recovery.
Let’s talk about that last one for a minute. Great customer service companies take advantage of a problem by the way they handle problems. As the saying goes, “great relationships are forged in adversity”. Look. we are all human and we all make mistakes. But the way a company deals with a customer problem, the way they remedy the situation is the most telling indication of what kind of customer service company it truly is.
If you want to be a truly amazing customer service company here are the actions, you have to take when a customer problem occurs:
- Don’t look for blame, right now there is a problem to be fixed. Solving that problem is top priority. Don’t waste time (or kill the relationship) by starting out declaring that it’s not your problem but the customer’s problem. The words “its not our problem” are certain relationship killers. Even if indeed, the customer is at fault, you could win the battle but, in the end, lose the war.
- Take responsibility for solving the problem as quickly, and efficiently, as possible. Fix it! And fix it fast!
- Fix the problem to the benefit of the customer…even if it costs you money. One of a things a great customer service company does is make sure it knows the lifetime value of each of their customers, once armed with that information they’ll have the proper perspective on how a small investment on their part will assure a longer lifetime with that customer.
- Once the problem is fixed, then do an analysis of what happen? What caused the problem and what you can do make sure it does not happen again.
- And finally, be gracious, If the problem was cause by something your company did, accept responsibility, apologize, and convince the customer that you have put the proper precautions into work so it will not happen again. And if it proves that your customer who caused the problem, well, that is a great opportunity to shine. This is your moment of truth and your moment of magic. The more gracious you are, the more you will make that customer, your customer for life.
And, making a customer for life is the ultimate goal of any great customer service business. It’s only common sense.