ChrisTyrellChris Tyrrell of Customer Service Excellence. Pic: Emily Hughes
With the economy still as unpredictable as ever, with major organisations going into administration every week, good customer service is more important now than it ever has been for companies not only to survive but also thrive.
With this in mind, and with the business scene as competitive as ever, we’ve asked some leading assessors for some top tips to help businesses achieve better customer relations and here they are:
1. Core Values - When companies identify, agree and embed clear core values, staff start pulling together to achieve better delivery of all aspects of the business, including customer service. Staff and, where possible, customers should be involved in agreeing the values.
2. Broad statements - No organisation can provide excellent customer service unless everybody, whatever their function and whatever their place in the hierarchy, recognises they have customers, be they external or internal.
3. Complaints - The organisation can learn from such feedback and improve its service delivery. By publishing the actions and service improvements it has taken as a result of complaints and comments, it can demonstrate it is a ‘listening and learning’ organisation, and welcomes customer feedback.
4. Reaction - Again, it’s good practice to empower frontline staff to deal with customer service issues when they arise, if they can but, if they do, it’s important to capture those expressions of dissatisfaction, or ‘informal complaints’ in order spot any emerging issues that could lead to formal complaints.
5. Channel Shift (online service provision, support, information and payment) - Use your website to demonstrate your transparency as an organisation by publishing your:
- Core business standards and your performance against them;
- Your standards for the timeliness and quality of response to customer contact and your performance against them;
- An explanation of any dips in performance, together with any remedial or preventive action you are taking;
- Action you are taking in response to customer satisfaction surveys, comment cards, and complaints.
6. Survey fatigue - Consultation should be a mixture of quantative (eg surveys) and qualitative (eg forums, focus groups and the response to open ended questions in surveys).
7. Mystery shopping - can be a useful supplementary tool, especially if it is carried out by trained customers.
8. Driven by the top management - Senior managers also need to demonstrate, on a regular basis, their personal commitment to excellent customer service.
9. Experiencing the customer journey - Test out the actual customer journey – the process path may represent the theoretical customer journey but how do you test it in practice? It’s important to capture the customers’ experiences:
- Ask a group of customers to record their emotional highs and lows along their journey;
- Alternatively, structure a customer survey to ask customers about their experiences and emotions along the journey;
- As a last resort, ask staff who are not involved to mystery shop the customer journey;
- Reducing unnecessary customer contact along their journey should be a key objective for any customer-focused organisation. There are various ways of doing this – customer journey mapping (above) is one example. Good practice for call centres is to log each call as to whether it could have been avoided by accessing the web site;
- Get managers to ‘walk the talk’ - do a frontline job for a day or more.
10. Benchmarking - If you have service standards or a customer charter or pledge, always review on an annual basis that you actually delivered them and publicise the results to your customers. This will show your promises are genuine and deliverable and will stop them becoming cosmetic statements. As a result you will deliver excellence!
For more information please visit www.customerserviceexcellence.uk.com