Time to hone your customer service skills?

Fuel Marketing - blog imageMany organisations assume that their main marketing goal is to woo new customers to their business. But keeping your existing customers is just as important as acquiring new customers, as well as being cheaper and easier of course.

A recent survey found that 82% of customers said that they stopped doing business with a company because of a bad customer service experience. Whilst 15% say they left because their need for a product or service had changed. Whatever the reason for customers not being satisfied, as business owners we have an obligation to listen, understand and try to improve things going forwards.

What is good service?

When you think about good service you need to put yourself in the shoes of your customer and think about what makes you happy. Essentially as customers we want to know that we exist and are important. We also want to receive a timely and quality service, where we feel we have been listened to, and finally know that our expectations have been met and in some cases even exceeded.

I few years ago I attended an FSB conference in Birmingham and was fascinated by the words of former European and World Champion athlete Kriss Akabusi who said. “Remember: no-one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” This to me sums up how our commitment to delivering good service lets our customers know how good we are, and that they enables them in turn to trust us more.

So whether you are the sole face of your business or whether you have lots of staff, everyone has to be on the same page when dealing with customers or prospective customers, in order to send consistent messages that can be quickly and easily understood.

Feelings and solutions

It’s worth remembering that customers don't buy products or services, they buy good feelings and solutions to problems. Most customer needs are emotional rather than logical. So by identifying and anticipating these needs, you are more likely to give your customers exactly what they are after.

Bearing all this in mind, one of the most effective things you can do is to re-structure your customer service and customer-facing team responsibilities and priorities so that you are solely focusing on improving the customer journey. By doing this you will be able to take the time, effort, and energy to provide the best customer service experience possible.

This might sound logical but really it does come down to establishing or re-establishing the customer care basics. And by basics I mean making sure that everyone knows how to:

- speak politely to customers

- listen and understand the issue or problem

- avoid negative or offending words and phrases

- respond in an agreed time to questions or calls

Top tips for avoiding customer service disasters

But if all else fails, here are my top 10 tips for delivering a first class customer experience that will have people talking about your business for all the right reasons:

1.    Communicate clearly and effectively

2.    Measure service quality and feedback

3.    Keep up-to-date about your products or services

4.    Use processes and systems that are customer friendly

5.    Always go the extra mile

6.    Under promise and over deliver (never the other way round)

7.    Set time limits for responses

8.    Treat people fairly

9.    Apologise when it’s your fault

10. Monitor what your competition are doing

Good customer service makes us smile. It makes us happy and encourages us to share our positive experiences with others. So if you want loyal clients who make referrals and recommendations and of course give you great testimonials too, then all you need to do is to treat your customers how you yourself would like to be treated.