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Research Triangle Business Advisors

July 2014 Newsletter

 

Providing world class customer care will lead to increased sales.  And, it’s so important because an unhappy client can fire anyone in the company from the CEO to the administrative staff.  Customers can do that by simply choosing to purchase your products or services from someone else.  This month we talk about what you can do to become a world class customer care company and thereby grow your successful business. 

 

 

 

  Bob De Contreras

  919-280-1307

  Bob@rt-ba.com

  www.rt-ba.com


How to Improve Customer Service

 

Some companies talk about customer care, some say customer support and others customer service.  What ever you call it, you will not be successful unless you take care of your customers.  At one company we know, the CEO mandated that on employee business cards, under the person’s title was another position description.  The business cards read something like Miles Owen, President/CEO, Customer Service Representative.  Yes, even the CEO’s business card said Customer Service Representative.  This was to make the point to the customers that they were very important.  It was also a way to be sure every employee was constantly reminded that customer care was the first order of business and part of the company culture. 

What follows are some tips on what you need to have if you want a world class customer care program, some of the things you can say to calm an irate customer and some words that should never leave the lips of an employee when talking to an irate client.

Topics

Four Key Principles for Customer Service Success.

Be a Customer Focused Company.

What Customers Expect When There is a Problem?

How to interact with the Customer.

Be Viewed as Offering World Class Service.

Factors that Create a Negative Impression.

Words That Should Never Leave the Lips of the Customer Service Person.

Drive a Customer Crazy by Saying These Words.

The Impact of Customer Service on Sales.

Four Key Principles for Customer Service Success

Your keys to success lay in being able to thoroughly know all you need to know about your customer and filling their needs within reasonable bounds of time and effort.

  • Expand your definition of service

    • Service should provide SATISFACTION

  • Know what your customers expect?

    • They want the same as you – value and support

    • They need you to understand their needs

    • They want simple answers – not jargon  

  • Know who is a customer

    • Anyone who calls you for help

    • Everyone you interface with, as a representative of the company

    • Internal contacts, as well as external buyers

  • Develop a customer friendly approach

    • Over communicate

    • Build relationships

    [Back to Topics]

Be a Customer Focused Company

Without happy customers, your company will ultimately fail. It has to be given a high priority for resources to perform effectively. It is performed within the bounds of mutual respect for each other’s time and effort, striking a balance between customer satisfaction and resources spent achieving it. Being a customer focused company means:

  • Customer Service personnel take ownership of customer issues

  • Employees know that customer service is a priority

  • Customer service training is a priority

  • Employee success is based on job performance AND customer support

  • Managers support the staff in fulfilling the customer service function

  • There is recognition for employees who provide quality customer service

  • Customer Service must be a part of the culture

[Back to Topics]

What Customers Expect When There is a Problem

Don’t let customers guess about what to expect from you in service and support. Take the time to let them know from the time you achieve your first sale. Customers expect:

  • Responsibility

    • Vendor owns the problem

    • Customer has involvement and influence on the outcome

  • Friendliness

    • Courtesy and politeness from the vendor

  • Empathy

    • Vendor appreciates their circumstances (the impact of the problem)

    • Vendor LISTENS to customer

  • Fairness

    • Vendor provides adequate attention and answers

  • Alternative

    • Customer is given a solution choice and vendor provides flexibility

  • Information

    • Customer is given pertinent information in a timely fashion

    • Vendor does no selling

  • An Apology (works 50% of the time)

[Back to Topics]

How to interact with the Customer

Your company’s behavior when confronted with a customer problem will really tell all about how you value customer service. To show your customer commitment instill these behaviors in your service personnel:

  • Act like you own the problem

  • Listen without interruption and with full attention

  • Behave without aggression, and without arguing

  • Do not make excuses for the problem

  • Thank the customer for drawing attention to the problem and helping solve it

  • Express sympathy and full understanding with the customer’s situation

  • Ask necessary questions to get more complete information and a complete picture of the situation

  • Find out exactly what the customer needs you to do for them

  • Explain first what you can do, and then gently add what you cannot do

  • Do what you committed – IMMEDIATELY

  • Check the result to make sure the customer is completely satisfied

[Back to Topics]

Be Viewed as Offering World Class Service

Now that you have the basics, take the next step to really make a lasting impression on your customers. You want your customer to be satisfied, even though the situation is terrible, and you want them to remember what you did for them for a long time.

Build long term loyalty by finding out what your customer wants and then:

  • Surpass customer expectations

  • Go the extra mile

  • Delight the customer

[Back to Topics]

Factors that Create a Negative Impression

On the other hand, avoid your own bad behavior by remembering the following dissatisfaction factors:

  • Making the customer wait

  • Not answering the phone promptly

  • Not saying “please” or “thank you”

  • Speaking loudly or condescendingly to the customer

  • Downplaying the problem

  • Focusing on another task while addressing or servicing a customer

  • Deflecting issues by joking

  • Blaming someone else for the problem

  • Interrupting or answering before the customer is finished explaining the problem

  • Offering an answer that does not fit the problem

[Back to Topics]

Words That Should Never Leave the Lips of the Customer Service Person

Further yet, avoid saying those things that are going to infuriate an already upset customer. Saying these words is like throwing gasoline on a fire.

  • “No.”

  • “I don’t know.”

  • “That’s not my job / that’s not my department.”

  • “You are right – that is bad.”

  • “Calm down.”

  • “I’m busy right now.”

  • “Call me back.”

  • “That’s not my fault.”

  • “You need to talk to my supervisor.”

  • “You want it by when?”

[Back to Topics]

Drive a Customer Crazy by Saying These Words:

Showing how much you care by your very demeanor with the customer can make all the difference. Avoid these things that will project an “I don’t care” attitude.

  • “That’s not our policy.”

  • “That’s not my job.”

  • “I’m not allowed to do that.”

  • “I have no idea”

  • “You’ll have to wait for the next release”

  • “We didn’t test it for that”

[Back to Topics]

The Impact of Customer Service on Sales

Customers will spend up to 10% more for the same product with better service.  When customers receive good service they tell 10-12 people on average.  When customers receive poor service they tell 20 people.  There is an 82% chance customers will repurchase from a company where they were satisfied.  There is a 91% chance that poor service will dissuade a customer from ever going back to a company.

               Bailey, Keith and Leland, Customer Service for Dummies, 2001

                                                                                                            

Find out what your customers want,

How they like it,

And, let them have it.

Just that way!

 


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