Good Customer Service – The First Steps

Good Customer Service – The First Steps

“Customer service is paramount!”

“We’re the best because our customers matter to us. We pride ourselves in taking good care of them!”

At least, that is what many businesses are telling you.

If every business out there is providing good customer service, why does it seem that customer service is at an all time low? Is the customer service promise we so often see merely an attempt by companies to convince their customers they are worth trusting without even delivering on the promise? Why the disconnect?

With all the talk of wanting to have good customer service, very few such efforts start out well. Rather, they begin in the fair to average range and grow into good. Getting back to the basics is paramount to solving this problem. You can’t run before you walk, and in order to walk you have to take that first step. Here are three first steps to providing good customer service.

Know Your Business

“What do you mean ‘know’ your business? Obviously we do! We have a product that is unique in the industry and…”

Wait a minute; the only reason your business exists is because of the customer. Whether you sell the most amazing product or dominate a niche in the service industry, if it wasn’t for the customer, your business or service would simply be a nifty hobby. Your product is your product and your service is your service, but your business is your customer. Without this understanding, you are doing a disservice to your business and not providing good customer service.

Now that you know what your business is, what else do you know for sure? How do you gather information or insights about your customers? Is it done proactively or do you simply find out via the complaint department? Is your customer service platform reaction based, or are you looking two steps ahead of your customers’ needs?  Knowing your customers is the first step to providing good customer service.

Sell Products and Build Bridges

No matter what product you sell or service you provide, your company is in the bridge building business. Not bridges made of cement and steel that span rivers and valleys, but rather the relationship kind.

“Why do I need to build a relationship with my customer? All she wants is a cup of coffee and a muffin.”

Why? Because of customer loyalty. Customer loyalty should be a primary goal in every business game plan and lifelong customers are the gold standard. Loyalty is based on a good relationship and trust with your customer.

Is your game plan about just making that one-time or next sale, or is it about establishing a relationship with a lifelong customer? Loyalty does not come easily. In fact, gaining customer loyalty is harder than ever these days. Markets, industries, products and services are changing almost daily and the customer’s attention span evaporates quickly. With a preoccupation about what is new and what is next, customer loyalty is a must.

Excellent relationships, when broken down to their fundamentals, have good communication as a foundation stone. And when you break communication down to its basics, it is less about the talking and more about the listening.  Customers want to be heard. Are you listening to your customers’ wants and needs? You need to hear what is being said and what isn’t. Being able to read between the lines is important. If you don’t take the time to listen to the details, you may be missing out on an opportunity to build a loyal returning customer.

Train Your Staff

Customer confidence is a must in any businesses’ success and customers want to be lead. They may not communicate that but in reality, that is what they are looking for. Courteous, skilled and professional staff are essential to effectively leading the customer to the right product or service. Your staff members build customer confidence in your product or service through their professionalism and product knowledge.

Customer product awareness is on the rise and when your customer has a better understanding of the product or service than your staff, it can shake their confidence in your company or business. Providing good customer service hinges on your staff, and there is no such thing as over-trained staff. Train, train, train!

Are you known for providing good customer service? Would your customers check the fair to average box on an evaluation, or would you get five out of five for providing good customer service? If not, maybe it is time to retrace your steps and start over. What else could be more important?

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