No matter what business you’re in, this article is relevant to your business.
Whether you call it a customer service department, a client help desk, a support line, or reception, it’s likely you have one, two, or a team of people who are responsible for the delivery of your customer service. But it’s not just their job.
For your customer to have great experiences that they will rave about to others, every single person in your organisation, from the cleaner to the CEO, must take ownership in making it easy for your customers to do business with you.
I recently visited my local Kmart store to buy some planter pots and had a bit of trouble finding where they were located. I looked around and all I could see was a sea of people, but none of them appeared to work there.
So when I finally spotted a young lady that looked like an employee, she seemed in a hurry to get somewhere. As I chased after her asking if she could direct me to where the plant pots were displayed, she curtly informed me that I had to go to the Customer Service desk to get assistance. So there I was, forced to queue up at the Customer Service desk to get a quick answer to my question.
For your customers to have great experiences, tell others and come back, it’s not just a matter of going through the motions by setting up a desk displaying a Customer Service sign. Every employee needs to take responsibility and work as a team to ensure every customer has a great experience, and tells others about their experience. When a customer needs assistance, it is the responsibility of each and every team member to take ownership and make it happen.
A few years ago a new house was being constructed next door. Over a very windy weekend some loose objects on the building site started blowing around, making loud clattering sounds. I called the after hours number of the building company, and spoke with Tom, who informed me that he was in Sales, and there was nothing he could do, suggesting I call back on Monday. Oh you’re in Sales, I replied. We live in a new housing estate and I often talk to people who ask my recommendations for a builder. Do you think I’m going to recommend you? Not likely. And if you’re in sales, you will know that word of mouth is your best form of marketing.
A third story and this time it’s a positive one. On recent visits to David Jones I’ve experienced consistency in their great customer service. Each time I’ve walked into the store to return an item and enquired at the closest counter, the assistant has politely informed me that the xyz department can help me with my refund, and I’ve been promptly and courteously escorted to that department. Not only that, when we’ve arrived at the right department, the assistant has done a ‘warm’ handover by explaining why I was there.
Think about it for a moment…how could you ‘escort’ your customer to the right department and delight them with a warm handover?
Here are my top 3 tips for improving your customer service even when it’s not your department.
- Have an attitude of helpfulness. If it’s not something you can realistically help with, find an alternative solution that the customer is satisfied with until the full solution can be found. Customer service is about finding solutions, even when it’s not your department. If your customer has a quick question that you know will only take a second to answer, like directing them to where they want to go, don’t make them wait. They might just vote with their feet and walk out the door. This also applies when dealing with your customers over the phone.
- Have an after hours contingency plan. Understand that your customers see your organisation as one entity, and they expect the organisation to solve their problem. You are a representative of your organisation. Even though I was talking to Tom in Sales, I expected him to do what it took to solve my problem so that I could sleep peacefully.
- Don’t make your customers jump through hoops. Make it easy for them to do business with you, or want to do business with you if they are a prospective customer. Do what it takes to help them and exceed their expectations. ‘Escort’ them with a warm handover, even if that’s done over the phone when you need to transfer a call.
Great customer service is the exception rather than the rule. So if you simply improve your customer service you’ll stand out from the crowd. It’s not rocket science, yet it’s something that is often overlooked in organisational marketing plans.
Customer service is way more than a department. It’s an attitude of helpfulness, courtesy, empathy, and service to others. An effective customer service training course that delivers results is the key to instilling these skills into your team members, together with creating procedures to ensure consistency across your teams in practicing great customer service skills.