Customer Loyalty, Customer Satisfaction Tutorials

Striving toward Greatness

As we strive toward greatness in the area of customer service and relations, here are a few more simple strategies to deliver an even higher level of service. It all goes back to managing your Moments of Truth — each and every contact you have with a customer — and creating Moments of Magic.

Benchmark with the competition. You must know how you stack up against your competition. Find out what the competition does well, even better than you. Then use this as the minimum standard. Do not copy! Simply use this as a starting point. If the competition is doing something you are not already doing, then figure out how to do it even better. The benchmark is not to set a standard or a goal. It is to become the eventual starting point on which to build. Your goal is to differentiate yourself from the competition, to be better than, not the same or as good as them. You don’t want to be another choice, but the only choice.

Benchmark outside of your industry. At a recent seminar I had eight groups share the best and worst customer service experiences they ever had (outside of their own industry). They came up with some great stories about the good and the bad. What amazed me was that the majority of them had to do with going to a restaurant. Then it hit me. If we think back to the best service we ever had, and it takes us to a restaurant, then why not try and emulate what this outstanding restaurant does for its customers? Think about the waiter that seemed to always be there when you needed him. Or, the food that seemed to arrive in a timely fashion, cooked to perfection. Draw parallels between your business and others outside of your industry. Look at what other companies do to create legendary service and simply bring their ideas to your own company.

Discover what you do best and exploit it. In the process of benchmarking with the competition, you may, if you don’t already know it, find out you do something different or better than they do. Make sure your customers know this. This could be one of your differentiation factors. It may be one of the reasons to do business with you. Just make sure what you do better matters to your customer.

Know your customers. This sounds so simple, but so many companies miss the mark. We have an exercise we do at some of my seminars. We ask the audience to list what they think the top five customer expectations are. Most of the time they break into small groups to do this. Once the answers are shared, they get a reality check. We get data through customer surveys and focus groups. Guess what? Almost every time what the employees think the customer expects is not actually what the customer really expects. Getting to know your customers is not that difficult. You can hold focus groups, informal surveys (low response for mail, higher for phone), solicit comments and feedback at the same time you are doing business, etc.

Know the value of your customer, specifically the dollar value. It may put a lot in perspective for you. Knowing the dollar value of a customer will help you make decisions about how you handle complaints, problems, special requests, etc.

In this cutting edge world we live in, we must stay up with technology. We can’t be left in the dust! Be on the cutting edge, which means taking advantage of new software, more powerful computers and even the internet. Many of my clients have fought being a part of the internet. Faxing used to be the rage. Now, it is e-mail. E-mail is the easiest way of quick, non-personal contact communication. The ability to get a message, a letter, computer file, etc, not just to another person, but groups of people, has never been easier.

And, if you sell any type of product or service (and I know you do) and are not yet using the internet to exploit it, you are missing a great opportunity for exposure. You can also use an internet site as a way to help promote your image. We have one client who uses their site not to sell, but to help people decide if they want to work for their company. They even have employment applications that can be filled out and sent to the company via e-mail.

So there you have six simple things to help you create a successful service strategy. While these six things focus on what you and your company should do, please don’t lose sight that it is all in the best interest of the customer.

After all, the customer is the reason we are in business. Your company can’t possibly be successful if no one is buying what you are selling, and you aren’t creating MOMENTS OF MAGIC.

Shep Hyken, CSP is a professional speaker and author specializing in the areas of customer service and customer relations. For more information on Shep’s speaking programs, books and tapes contact (314) 692-2200
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