When asked, most companies state 'customer service' as one the ways that they engage their customers, strengthen their brand and stand out against their competition.
When asked to define it, they describe customer service as a friendly smile and an offer to help. Customer Service, to them, is represented by general civility and friendliness.
It seems like being polite should be the bare minimum of the human existence.
Customer Service, if executed in an extraordinary manner can provide a point of operational excellence.
The following customer service points should be a part of your organization:
1 - Be Your Consumer - Put yourself in their shoes. Approach your company from the outside and think about how your customers interact with your company. Is it easy? Is it pleasant? Does the process encourage someone to be a customer or make them want to run away?
2 - Be Prompt - Answer your phone calls and emails promptly. The more frustrated the customer, the faster your response needs to be.
3 - Be Generous With Information - Every question that a customer might have should be answered in an easy to find place on the website and through whomever (or whatever automated attendant) answers the phone.
4 - Be Equal - Treat every consumer as if they are the most important customer. The customer who makes a small purchase today could be the largest single buyer tomorrow.
5 - Be Empathetic - Assume that your consumer has a very valid reason to be upset. Listen to them completely and then discuss how you can be of assistance.
6 - Be Memorable - Give a part of the experience that is unexpected and will give your customer a reason to speak well of you.
7 - Be Empowering - Employees want to be great. Give them the discretion to make decisions that will benefit the company and they customer.
8 - Be Curious - Ask your customer questions. Find out everything you can about who they are and what they are looking for. You will find out if you are providing or if your competitors are.
9 - Be Fun - No one wants to do business with a company that isn't fun. Find a way to be fun and more importantly make it fun for your customer.
10 - Be Extraordinary - How can you go above and beyond the call of duty? How can you exceed their expectations? What can you do that will give them something to go away talking about?
CNNMoney.com reports on 6 companies that have made outstanding customer service a part of their mission:
Nurse Next Door, Vancouver BC
Genesis 10, New York, NY
HyperFit USA, Ann Arbor, MI
John Robert's Spa, Cleveland, OH
SimplySoles, Washington, DC
Threadless, Chicago, IL
There are a few things that you have to make sure to avoid.
1 - Don't break your promise - If you tell your customer that you will get an answer to them today, be sure to do it. Tomorrow will be too late.
2 - Don't hide behind technology - Be accessible. If you only provide a website and voicemail for customers to relate to, how can they engage?
3 - Don't be frustrating - If you use complicated terminology or even worse use "policy" as a defense mechanism then your customers will be very angry with you and your company.
4 - Don't forget your manners - Be a good listener. Don't interrupt. Say please and thank you. A little bit of kindness goes a long way to making someone feel better.
If you really want to claim Customer Service as a way to stand out in the crowd, you will have to make that service extraordinary.
What can you do to go above and beyond the call of duty?
Sr. Partner/Brand Strategist