Improving Customer Service

Whichever business you are in, you are likely to be in close competition for the dollar in your customer’s pocket. You may frequently ask yourself what it is that makes a customer choose you over the competition and you may believe that you know the answer. However confident you are, improving customer service should be a daily topic for you and your people to ensure that you never stop learning how to be successful.

Success in business will have something to do with your advertising, your product, your pricing, your stock, your service and your people but the real measure of success in business is whether your customer would come back and do repeat business with you.

Each customer comes to you with a set of preconceptions developed over a lifetime. Studies tell us that they are looking for some fairly simple things; they don’t always expect to be delighted or excited.

  • they want to be acknowledged
  • they want what they are asking for
  • they want it quickly
  • they expect to pay for it

In a face-to-face situation customers would quite like to be “acknowledged” within 60 seconds. You will notice that they don’t expect to be served and have left the premises in 60 seconds. All they want is “G’day”.

During an online purchase or a telephone purchase, customers now have an expectation that they will be recognized by the system if they have registered or have called previously. This is the type of recognition they are looking for.

Quality of Service
A useful definition of “Quality” in any business is where something “meets customer expectation”. So, if they are looking to buy something simple they might expect you to have it in stock. If they are looking for something complex they might expect that it needs to be ordered and they may need to wait. They might expect you to call them when it arrives and in some circumstances they might appreciate delivery. In Germany, for example, if a chemist does not have your prescription when you call in, they will deliver it to your house by the end of the day.

Speed of response
Time continues to be the scarce resource in our society. Your customers are no different from the rest of the population. When they shop for something specific, they quite like to be able to find it easily, try it on for size, test it out, discuss the specification or do whatever is appropriate before they buy. If you don’t respect your customer’s time and help them to feel good about their purchase with a sense of interest and urgency then don’t expect them to fill your bank account with money.

They want to pay you
How many retail stores have you been to where they are filled to the ceiling with stock but there is a real bottleneck when you try to hand over the cash? Either the check-outs are understaffed or the sales people are busy trying to sell extended warranties to increase their meager income. Yes, there may be some great economies being played out here but some customers really just want to pay and go.

Remember that even the best customer service examples in the world will only satisfy 8 out of 10 customers. They still have to work hard to find out how to better serve the 20% of customers who were less than satisfied with their service experience.

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