Great customer service is a fundamental part of every continually successful organisation’s tool kit and should be something that every business strives for. In times of economic pressure excellence in customer service is essential.
When times get tough organisations can match quality, match product specifications and chase down the price, eventually their only differentiator becomes service. For consumers as their purse strings tighten their expectations on getting value for money increase and poor service just won’t be tolerated.
So how do business leaders with tightening resources, increasing customer expectations and lower revenues meet if not exceed the need for better customer service? By focusing on and thinking from the perspective of the two “C’s”, their customers and their colleagues. It is important not to loose sight of a couple of home truths; ‘without customers you have no business” and “from a customers perspective the colleagues who serve them are your business.”
The best businesses think from the ‘outside in’, in other words they; think like a customer and for the customer to make it as easy as possible for them to get the things they want, the way they want, when they want. It’s about putting in place a customer service ethos and approach which delights the customer at every point of interaction with your business. Nothing can substitute really knowing the different types of customer you have, their needs and wants and making sure you deliver for them, not just at the points of sale but every time they come into contact with you. It is important to have a distinct identity which your customer can relate to and be reassured by.
Looking from the outside in try to see and experience your businesses as your customers do and make sure its something you are proud of. Think through every step of the customer journey; where did they hear of you and how? Does your store look inviting from the outside and is it inspiring on the inside? Is your website a good representation of your business and easy to use? Are the signs in store clear and the POS informative? Is your aftercare engaging and efficient and does it create a lasting good impression on your customers? Most importantly are your colleagues excellent at customer service and true ambassadors of your brand.
Thinking about your colleagues, who are the face of your business, it is worth the time and investment to develop a true ‘customer centric’ approach as part of your proposition, your unique Brand. Don’t think that a Brand is merely a new logo – It isn’t! A brand runs deeper than this it should have the customer at the heart of it and be present at every customer touch point. Over the telephone, when a customer walks through your door, the communication about the products and services you provide and the impression they take away, your people should be your Brand. Each element that contributes to the customer’s experience will paint the picture of you and your business. All these parts should embody your business’ personality and this should be something which is valued and connects with your target customer.
Too often we experience businesses that spend a lot of time, money and effort advertising and promoting their business to get customers through their door, only to disappoint them by having colleagues who are poorly trained, not engaged and lacking the personal skills to delight customers. All elements which are easily remedied with the right focus on your people.
Whether times are tough or not, service can make a business distinct. Those who focus on the interaction with their customers and develop their teams do live their Brand and deliver excellent customer service will thrive. Those who don’t do so at their own peril.