A customer-centric strategy is the best way to deliver world-class service, and it all starts with the initial point of delivery. In order to make customers happy, we need to be sure our employees are happy, and there is no better way to uphold and maintain a sustainable strategy than by being an excellent role model.
Maybe I am a bit more critical of world-class customer service than most people because I write about it almost daily, but I am sure the expectations I have about good systems and processes are consistent with what all people want when dealing with any business. Let's face it - without customers there is no business.
So here I am in the process of moving from one home to another; an experience that stresses even the most stoic. It's also an opportunity that one gets to encounter the customer service departments of the most complained about, the most efficient, and even a few companies who I am still shaking my head in utter disbelief. The experiences however, remind me of what world-class service can offer.
World-class service is made up of the best systems and processes. They keep their promises, they do what they say, and when someone has a question or a problem, someone is there to help. Here are my observations:
- The best companies know their product and services. In the process of learning about hardwood floors and all of the options available, the best company I had the pleasure to deal with didn't try to sell me the most expensive products, but educated me on options, quality, costs, and extras I might need.
- World-class customer service listened to what I had to say. In a most undesirable situation, the owner of a local auction facility called to complain to me about how hard his business is and to complain to me that customers bother him when they call. Needless to say, his company will never be recommended again.
- Respect is always given to each and every customer. Admittedly some customers are more difficult to deal with, however the customer is always right and he has the right to feel the way he does. It's when a business doesn't listen and adopts a negative attitude that a customer will tell the world. Disgruntled customers can cause significant business loss.
- Communicate when things go wrong. We all want to believe our organizations can deliver flawless service, but when things go wrong, our chances to make it better can get a business noticed. Consumers do forgive when organizations take extra efforts to correct problems. Internet service and cable companies notoriously are on the top of worst customer service, yet some really try to make amends to rectify problems.
- Ownership belongs to the customer service person in an organization who takes the call. Employees need to be empowered to act on the company's behalf and not have to make a customer wait until someone else gets back to them. When I called a local moving company and requested the movers be at my home earlier in the morning than is the usual procedure, a customer service representative was able to make an exception without having to "check with her boss."
And to add the best advice to delivering world-class service, is to remember to treat any customer as you would like to be treated yourself. Along with quality, value, and having solutions for the unexpected, take the extra step and be known as the company that listens and lives up to their promises.