International Customer Service Week is celebrated every October. Globally recognized customer service expert Teresa Allen recently relocated to the Emerald Coast. We thought it would be great for Destin Life readers to hear her insights on how to build business through common sense customer service!
Customer service truly IS the new marketing and requires laser focus by any successful business. So now is a great time to examine what I believe are five irrefutable customer service truths critical to business success moving toward 2020:
1. Train customer service skills and hire customer service attitudes.
Can you teach anyone to be a great customer service representative? A great trainer should be able to teach skills that bring measurable improvement to your customer service efforts. This is not, however, saying that all people can be brought to the same level. There are certain qualities impacting service that are somewhat innate. If you are going to work in customer service, you should like and respect people. That may seem to be common sense, but we all have run into people on the other side of the counter who appear to have a bit of contempt for fellow human beings. Hiring is thus a critical success factor. The first seconds of an interview may tell more about a person’s ability to perform in a customer service setting than their entire resume.
2. The customer doesn’t have to do anything, particularly buy something from you.
We are blessed to have many exceptional service providers on the Emerald Coast who are passionate about serving guests and residents of our area. There are also service providers who are happy to help only as long as the customer says and does the right things at the right time. Unfortunately, that is not how the game is played in today’s marketplace of demanding customers. Make sure your team knows that in a competitive market, your customer can choose between many alternatives including those online instead of local. An exceptional service representative is an important business asset.
3. Preventing customer anger beats an apology every time.
Many organizations teach employees how to recover from a service failure. Sadly, far fewer aggressively pursue conflict avoidance strategies. Be obsessed about documenting what can and does go wrong on the customer journey and take steps to avoid such mishaps. An apology is important to preserve a relationship, but it does not make up for inattention to details that would have prevented a poor customer encounter.
4. Customers want to be treated as individuals, not as cattle.
Today’s customer wants their entire experience to be custom tailored to their likes and their life. Study customer journeys of varied types in order to know why your customer buys your product, how and where they buy it, and exactly how they plan to use it. Share this information with your team and your customer service will reach a whole new level. Effective use of social media gives you the opportunity to connect one-on-one with customers today more than ever before at a relatively low cost. Invest in a social media strategy that monitors customer feedback and builds one-on-one customer relationships.
5. Improving your customer service will improve your bottom-line results.
Customer service is not a feel good exercise. A carefully planned and executed customer service strategy will make customers and your staff feel better, but this is not the reason for the endeavor. Customers spend more with companies providing exceptional service, a recent study by American Express says as much as 13% more! If your sales and bottom line aren’t where you would like them to be, look at your investment in the service provided to customers. This must not only include customer service training for customer contact personnel, but also an operational structure that supports their efforts, and a management team that champions the cause.
Teresa Allen has been recognized as one of the world’s top customer service experts by GlobalGurus.org for 4 consecutive years with two years at #1. Author of Common Sense Service: Close Encounters on the Front Lines, Teresa has presented keynotes and training across the U.S. and abroad for 25 years. To learn how Teresa can help your business improve customer service, visit www.AllenSpeaks.com or call 850-460-7105. Mention Destin Life to receive a 20% discount on any program scheduled through March of 2020.