Upgrading Customer Service

January 1, 2011

From all the indicators, it appears we are at the start of a recovery. Credit is opening up and people are starting to buy again. The key question at this point in the cycle is: how do potential customers decide if it’s you or your competition they are going to buy from? Customer service could be the deciding factor.

Customer service is a major decision factor in every purchase. As I’ve said in many articles over the years, customer service comes from the combination of three areas: customer dialog, customer friendly processes, and employee commitment to customer service. You must upgrade your performance in all three areas to win business in today’s tight markets.

Customer Dialog

Customer dialog is the method you use to understand what customers need and want and the way you find out if customers are satisfied with what you provide. All means and avenues of communication should be used to find out if you are giving your customers the products and services they want. You should use surveys, questionnaires, phone calls and face to face conversations to facilitate the dialog. The results of your dialog with your customers should be distributed throughout your organization so everyone knows what the customers need and want. Upgrade your customer service by upgrading your dialog with your customers. The ACA Group can help you design, implement and analyze a customer dialog program.

Customer Friendly Processes

Customer friendly processes mean it’s easy for customers to do business with you. Every process from finding you in the first place, to initial contact, through quotation and sales, order status, delivery, and invoicing should be designed to make it convenient for the customer, not for you. And don’t stop there. How you respond to the customer after the sale is just as critical to retaining that customer. It must be easy for the customer to understand and use your product. If they have questions, it should be easy to get those questions answered and if, in the end, the product has to be returned, the process of doing so should be remarkably easy. Upgrade your customer service by reviewing and revising your processes. The ACA Group can help you make improvements to your customer service processes.

Employee Commitment to Customer Service

The employees who deal directly with your customers are the company in the eyes of the customer. Excellent customer service is provided by employees who are committed to exceeding their customer’s expectations. Employee commitment to customer service is obtained by training your employees on customer service tools and techniques and by recognizing employees who exceed customer expectations. Untrained and unmotivated employees provide indifferent customer service. Indifferent customer service will not get you the business you want. Upgrade your customer service by upgrading your customer service training and by upgrading your reward system. The ACA Group can help you with employee commitment through customer service training and guidance on a reward system.

Your ability to prosper as the economy recovers depends largely on your level of customer service. If you upgrade your customer dialogue efforts, upgrade your customer friendly processes and upgrade your employees’ commitment to customer service, you will be the one that customers choose to buy from.

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