The role of customer service in today’s business is not to simply solve a problem, but instead it is to foster (and in some cases create and rebuild) goodwill with the customer.
Good customer service is actually an integral part of a business’s marketing engine. When done well and right, excellence in customer service builds profits and referrals. Customer service is a proactive responsibility that works hand in glove with sales. Sales is the front end, customer service, as part of marketing, is the essential back end that dots the I’s and crosses the T’s.
Here are FIVE KEY questions to ask in order to develop Killer Customer Service, you know the kind that makes your customers clamor for more of whatever it is you are selling.
1. What is the purpose of our customer service?
The typical answer is to solve customer challenges. The better answer is to develop customer relationships that ensure lifetime referrals and create unshakeable loyalty.
Remember that you have a choice about whether you allow customer service to be a place that allows customers to vent but not much more, or actually swings into rapid action to satisfy disgruntled customers and turn them into raving fans. An example of customer service that develops loyalty through customer care is American Express.
2. Is our customer service empowered to take the action necessary to create satisfied customers?
Too often, customer service is a warm body with a script on the other end of a calling tree. UGH. They have no power and the customer calling knows it and the smart one’s ask to escalate or speak with a manager or executive. When you empower your customer service representative(s) and train them into proactive solutions that deliver outrageous value, you turn skeptics into raving fans.
Growing from zero to a billion in sales in under a decade was accomplished with empowered customer service by Zappos.com.
3. What is the follow up process for our customer service?
Customer service is not there only for problems but needs to be an vital piece of every sale. Customer service is the place where you create real fortune by your follow up.
This is the place in your business that gets to know each customer and call them by name, keeping up with their purchase history (and problem history if one exists.) One of the finest companies renowned for extraordinary customer service by relationship is The Ritz-Carlton hotel company.)
4. How does our customer service build value?
This is about keeping your finger on the pulse of your customer. Staying a step ahead of them by finding out what they want most and making it easy for them to get it. This can be done by paying close attention to what they have already purchased (services and products) as well as eliciting regular feedback and review.
The ace in the market on customer service that builds value is Amazon.
5. Do our customer service values come from the top?
Great customer service starts at the top of any organization, no matter how small or large. If you, personally, had to handle the complaint, would you do it with grace, ease, and generosity? Or instead, would you be annoyed, speak ill of the complainant when you got off the phone, and treat customer service as a chore instead of as an opportunity? It’s your choice.
Summary: Effective customer service leaves a customer wanting to do more business with the company and spreading the word about what a terrific job they did in handling a specific challenge.