According to Forbes, 80% of businesses feel they provide superior service; but only 8% of their customers think they do. This is worth a second thought because studies confirm that the biggest magnetic force drawing clients towards your business is the same factor pushing them away – The quality of service you provide. In fact, customers only shop based on price when price is the only thing that separates competing offerings. A 2013 study revealed that eight out of ten customers would spend more money for the same product if they received excellent customer service. The growing power of social media influence presents even more of a need to understand how to close the gap between how good we think we are versus how good we actually are at serving others. A 2014 study by Salesforce discovered that news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience. This is quite significant since more than 60% of consumers are influenced by other consumers’ comments (Salesforce 2014)
With customer service being such an integral part to customer acquisition, consumer loyalty and client retention, it is in everyone’s best interest to understand the reasons for the glaring disconnect. Consider the following three tips to strengthen your customer service.
- Exceptional customer service begins with employees. The quality of customer service cannot exceed the quality of the provider. It therefore makes sense that companies prioritize training their staff in customer service. When you heighten everyone’s awareness to the importance of their energy, body language and priorities, suddenly blind spots are reduced and behavioral self-correcting automatically happens. If there is one aspect of staff training that is most vital, it is training in communication. Studies consistently confirm that the majority of work frustrations can be solved or minimized through improved communication. The leader’s role within any organization is to grow the people so they can grow the company. Neglecting to train staff in communication is a leadership failure that is costing companies more than a cut in their bottom line. By taking time to improve the competency and quality of employees, companies instantly turn up the dial on customer satisfaction.
- Employees who excel at customer service focus on the customer more than the product or their specific task. They provide personal attention rather than a cookie-cutter, disengaged transaction. Generic greetings, industry lingo, rushed or sloth-like service, carrying bad “weather” and poker face expressions have no place in the customer-service tool box. Providers of exceptional customer service see each client as not just a consumer about to purchase their product, but rather an individual whose day he or she day brighten by getting to know the person through an authentic, transformational interaction. They are first to smile and greet the customer with eye contact and a casual but personal greeting. They are not over the top with their offerings to help, but rather gently seek to ask how they can assist. They understand that the customer is seeking more than a transaction. Today’s consumer desires an experience. Every consumer has expectations of their shopping experience. Great customer service goes above and beyond that minimal expectation. We all have experienced the satisfaction of a service provider who goes the extra mile. The influence behind doing a little extra cannot be overstated. It is often the “little” things that make the biggest impact. Focusing on the customer is often most challenging when things go wrong. It is however, not such a factor that the ball got dropped but rather what happens after the ball is dropped. A consumer’s experience hinges on three key things: The attractiveness of the environment, the value of the product for the money spent, and the service provided. Out of these three qualities, customer service is the most potent.
- For customer service to be outstanding, the endeavor must be critiqued regularly and often. The statistic mentioned in the opening sentence reveals how poorly we are at intuitively knowing our level of proficiency. To be certain how effectively your efforts are working, ask those you serve. Through simple, brief and anonymous surveys or informal chats, there is no need to second guess. Promote someone on staff as your “customer service leader.” His or her responsibility is to catch and reward employees providing exceptional service, make certain there is a personal follow-up after a complaint or mishap, arrange regular meetings to role play customer service scenarios, share stories that are both positive and negative and above all, keep the focus sharp on the importance and fulfillment of providing exceptional customer service.
Great customer service doesn’t just happen. It requires intentionality and priority placement. Organizations that emphasize customer service and make it a top priority in their company culture catapult themselves ahead of their competition. According to a 2014 study, 81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are outperforming their competitors. If you are providing average customer service, you place yourself and your company in a vulnerable position because consumers can fire you and walk right out the door to find someone offering the same product with outstanding service. Why not carve out a unique magnetic niche by regularly training your staff in communication, interpersonal relations, teamwork and customer service? In doing so you will engage the staff and provide a service where each person walking out your door become walking billboards for your company and your success!