While conducting a recent workshop one of the participants asked me about trends that I see. I informed the audience that we are in an age where customer-to-customer influences mean everything. With the use of the Internet with its spontaneous method of instant communication, customers quickly inform others about the good bad or indifference about products and services.
To that end, it is vital for all organizations (profit and non-profit) to engage more frequently in customer service. Service is as much a part of the marketing and branding process as sales, in fact it might be even more important. The reason is that we are in a service-based economy. What that means to organizations is a need to constantly engage clients so their equity speaks well of your business to promote your brand. In an age of connectivity brand helps visibility as well as revenue vitality.
Organizations then need to ensure the following:
1. Hire the right people that are concerned with servicing the customer. There is a major difference in the manner an enthusiastic employee handles clients. Tom had a computer issue as was told by the representative they would remain on the line until the issue was repaired. Tom since purchased 8 computers from the firm.
2. The pen is still mightier than the posting. While the amount of email and texting messages get lost or forgotten. Clients' love receiving gratuity cards in the mail thanking them for business or congratulating them on a special event. The closer you become with clients they more they trust you and conduct business with you.
3. Constantly engage in conversation. As clients become more familiar with you the relationship grows. Similar to any other relationship the more they know you they want to tell others. The qualitative feedback helps grow the brand as others learn about the organization. Even Facebook and Linkedin grew their brand by sustaining client relationships and community.
4. Make life easy. Simply return calls as promised or follow up when needed. Bill has called his service provider four times and still has not received a return call. Clients have too many choices today; don't allow your clients to become a casualty of stupidity.
5. Do something nice. Everyone likes a surprise. I frequent a wonderful Chinese restaurant every week. A few weeks ago I asked Kelly the owner for Dim Sum. The restaurant does not make it they buy it. Three days later she arrived at my front door with plates full- at no charge! Customer appreciation is the best provider of brand value.
6. Service must be consistent. Customer service must exist in paper, your website, your marketing materials- everything. Customer equity is built with relentless consistency.
7. Learn how to handle the truth. Never trust anything to instinct or fate. If you truly desire customer centric relationships then you must mystery shop the business. Tools used for mystery shopping assessments range from simple questionnaires to complete audio and video recordings. Mystery shopping can be used in any industry, with the most common venues being retail stores, hotels, movie theaters, restaurants, fast food chains, and banks.
Improving customer loyalty helps costs. Loyal customers generate more revenue. Loyal customers with more experience with your brand typically will be more efficient to service. For customers returning again and again there will be a history of working together and understanding expectations and procedures that simply makes doing business together easier.
Yet loyalty cannot occur unless there is proper customer service. Service must be culturally embedded in the organization. It must be the walk and talk of your company and it must be the reasons why it exists. See it from your customer's eyes so that you can create enough chemistry using the organizations best ingredients.
What are some ingredients in your customer service formula? Place your comments in the area below.
© 2011. Drew Stevens PhD. All rights reserved.