Outstanding customer service can take many forms, it will look entirely different in the local butcher to the Grand Hotel, but there are some key themes that will continue no matter what you customer profile is like.
Of course, your delivery should reflect your style, you need to be consistent to your brand identity. Be formal, be social or be down to earth… check out these golden rules to build loyal customers who promote your brand for you.
1- Build a happy team.
If the people serving your customers are counting down the minutes to the end of the working day, you are unlikely to get the best out of them. If your team enjoy their job, not only will they be more productive, they will want everyone who comes into contact with your company to have a great experience too.
They are your greatest advert, your strongest brand advocates, and they can make or break your customers service standards in a heartbeat. Invest in your employees, training, opportunities, recognition, flexibility; it is often the basics that make the biggest difference, not the quirky benefits.
2- Give your team the tools to serve
Micro-managers make unhappy teams but they will also make it very difficult for customers to be wowed. Providing excellent customer service means making decisions that help, support and care for them quickly and efficiently. Having to ask for authority on your solutions each time is not only a frustration for the employee, it is a great frustration for the customer.
Customers will be left feeling that they should have just spoken with the manager themselves. Train your team on the decision making process you employ and trust them to follow it, providing review and feedback as appropriate. You could set a threshold like John Timpson did for his shoe repair business. Find out more on employee empowerment here.
3- Provide clear and simple lines of communication
Whether you want to place an order, ask a question about your account or make a complaint, there is nothing more frustrating than having to overcome barriers to communication. With social media providing rapid responses, people expect to get through to someone very quickly, even if they email or call you.
Long and complex call menus, or hunting through websites for contact details make customers unhappier so simplify the channels of communication. Use social media as an instant touch point, set standard for the response to emails and clearly display the options customers have for getting hold of you.
4- Really go the extra mile
It shouldn’t just be a mantra; you have to actually think outside the box for cost effective ways to over deliver, especially if you are at fault in the first place. Customers might not comment to you on the extra effort you have or have not made, but they are likely to tell others and you never know just what clout a person has these days.
United Airlines found out in 2008 when they refused to replace a $1200 guitar broken during a flight. The owner, Dave Carroll, generated over 10 million views on the subsequent YouTube video, causing a stock price fall costing $180 million in three weeks. Fortunately for Dave, Taylor Guitars stepped in, gave Dave a new guitar and created a 2-minute video reminding people of their repair service and how to travel safely with guitars. Taylor’s positive actions generated over half a million views.
5- Monitor, review and adjust
Your customers are your greatest assets and your interactions with them generate a wealth of data. You can identify how happy they are, how fast/appropriate/easy your service is and you can highlight any choke points that might be impacting on your service.
It is critical to learn from your mistakes. They will happen as people are only human and even the greatest technology supporting you requires human intervention. Creating a blame free culture in your business will encourage people to be open about mistakes, to share a problem to generate a faster response and to see if further training or a change in process would prevent the issue arising again.