On the heels of National Courtesy Month in September, I find myself reflecting on the consideration and politeness we expect to see from the company’s we patronize. From my perspective, respect and courtesy are the core of excellent customer service. The cost of poor customer service in the US is 41 billion dollars per year, so taking a moment to consider what kind of experience you’re offering your customer does impact your bottom line. Your mission should be geared towards providing your customers with a genuine relationship, and that courtesy lasts more than a month; it lasts a lifetime. Take a moment to consider some of the basic tenets of customer service to evaluate if you’re providing top-notch care for every customer your business receives.
When you’re facing a problem or need to contact a business you call the customer care number, right? You are then greeted by a recording that asks you tedious questions before you are —hopefully—directed to a customer service agent. Phones still handle at least 68 percent of contact center communications, so when your customer reaches a human on the other line they are looking for an employee who is going to solve their issue and provide reliable information. How many times have you personally brought up an issue with a company and found that there were three or four different people offering you inconsistent advice or explanations? It gets frustrating, and I know from my experience in the banking industry that customers crave consistency. When performing a transaction, a customer wants the same quality service they received the first day they signed up with the business.
What is the goal of your business? When you’re evaluating your customer service you should be looking at your mission statement. This goal is a promise you are making to your customer, and it’s a promise that cannot be broken. If a customer has to endure a policy or a procedure that isn’t working or leaves them unsatisfied, then it is time to rethink your strategy. You should always be committed to delivering a level of service that stands as a point of differentiation from your competitors. Customers will choose you because they are happy with your products or services, so remember that and provide a truly excellent experience. Not only will it add value to your relationship with the individual customer, but it will also add to your business’ competitive edge.
In my line of work, one of the many ways we care for our customers is by making sure their information is secure. Customer privacy in the banking world is paramount, so we do our best to ensure data safety because customer service is not a department; it’s an experience. Maintaining a high-level of security is a daily action, and it is an action you should be using to show customers you care. Telling your customer that you are thankful for their loyalty is a great start, but you can further improve your service by solving existing issues or by taking it a step further and preventing future problems through vigilant account monitoring. Be proactive in your relationships by hosting customer appreciation events or adapting your processes to fit the needs of the individuals you serve. Almost 70 percent of American customers would recommend a business to their friends or family after a positive experience, so grow your company by investing in your service.
If someone were to ask you what it is you do, you’d be able to inform them easily. It should be no different when you approach the issue of customer education. You are the expert on your products and services, so it’s your responsibility to provide them with simple, clear guidance when they interact with your business. If they are setting up an account, which features will resolve immediate concerns? What products will they benefit from down the road? When a question arises, make sure your employees are trained on the appropriate responses, too. The service your business provides is going to come from the employees you keep, so give them instruction and information that will allow them to thrive in their position.
We each look for exceptional experiences in our daily lives, so treat others better than you’d like to be treated. Exceed common courtesy this month and beyond at your business by putting a framework in place to provide extraordinary service and commitment to your customers.