Rude customers are a nightmare however...

While watching an episode of the ever popular BBC program Watchdog, a phrase from company owners has become very familiar to viewers, “We have had millions of satisfied customers and we rarely get any complaints.”

Customer service seems to have become a by word for not being attentive by replacing human contact with robotic answering machines to save money when in fact it should embody everything you believe about your product or service offering. Customer service should be planned for from when your potential customer starts searching for information, makes a purchase decision through to after the product or service has been paid for.

How many times have you been unhappy with with a meal in a restaurant but never bothered to complain? Did you simply decide not to make the mistake of giving that business your custom and walk away rather than complain? Many businesses believe that those “satisfied customers” are theirs but they are most like looking for better deals or services being offered by their competitors down the road. Many buyers do not want the hustle of confrontation and would rather bestow their hard earned cash on someone who understands their needs and fulfils them. Businesses that show they are willing to listen by being accessible and provide timely solutions to problems that arise with products and services are winning customer's hearts and minds.

Whether you are a one woman band or a multi-billion conglomerate, have a good working customer policy in place. Millions of pounds are wasted on marketing strategies to acquire new customers only for them to be lost because of bad service and if that is not enough bad news spreads like fire through word of mouth and made even worse by accelerants like social media which then have stories rapidly picked up by mainstream media even the BBC published an article on why it pays to complain on Twitter. 

Your customer service team should be fully immersed with product knowledge, when I was on holiday in France my mother-in-law asked me to visit the local green grocer and buy some peaches. To my amazement he asked me when I was going to eat them and I said tonight, he then carefully selected the fruits by carefully touching and smelling before declaring it suitable as part of evening meal. I was still sceptical until that evening I have to say I could never tasted a better peach in my life. Was it customer service? I'd say yes but I wasn't sure he probably loved his job so much dealing in vegetables and fruit that he only felt the best was good enough for his customer. That is what customer service is all about, your customer should feel that you care and that builds trust and loyalty.

Planning your customer service strategy

1. Always ensure that you and your team have a positive frame of mind when listening to a customer and any issue they might have with the product/service. A lot of insightful information on how to improve your product of service can be gained for free with out resorting to expensive market testing and focus groups.

2. Personally see to some customer complaints and answer them. If some one has taken the trouble to call or write to you it is more than likely that they are voicing the concerns of customers who cannot be bothered to contact you.

3. Ensure that your team has thorough knowledge of product or service and the logistics of getting the product into your customers hands.

4.If there are known problems that seem to crop up have them resolved as soon as possible. Formulate a script for your customers response of how the problem is being taken care of so that the message remains consistent.

5 Use the information to change the process to better the experience or compose a response addressing each concern and what action you are taking.

6. Sometimes common courtesy pays off, select a team that are naturally empathetic and can see the problem from the customers point of view. 

7. If you have or outsource a customer service team, investigate and keep tabs on how your company is being represented. Customer service is often the least valued part of a company, often very little investment is made in terms of making sure staff are paid well and training/development is often undertaken sporadically compared to the more glamorous marketing and sales departments.

 The 80/20 rule

According to the 80/20 rule Twenty per cent of your customers account for eighty per cent of your profits. Very few business follow that axiom as evidenced by the plethora of online  switching platforms for everything from mobile phones to energy companies who do not place their loyal customers first. Develop programs or incentive plans to thank your loyal customers  to encourage them to keep coming back.  This will keep your business streets ahead of the competition.

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Comment by : Philippe
Greetings from Belgium Very good article



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