Would you say that your customers are satisfied with the products and services provided by your organization? Do you think that having satisfied customers indicates that your organization is one that provides exceptional customer service? If so, think about what the word satisfaction really means. When your customers are satisfied, it simply means that you have met their service and performance expectations. It’s like earning a “C” on your report card. Your performance is average – not worse than expected, but not better either.
If you want to be recognized as an outstanding provider of customer service, you have to consistently exceed the expectations of your customers. This is how your organization can build customer loyalty, which is much more important than customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers aren’t angry or upset with you, but they still may choose to do business with your competitors. Loyal customers, on the other hand, are those who choose to keep coming back to you, and choose not to purchase from your competitors. Customer loyalty is based on the relationship between your organization and its customers.
Organizations that are recognized as exceptional providers of customer service are the ones that have incorporated customer-focused behaviors into their daily operations. You can do this at your organization.
Customer focused behavior requires:
1. Make the Customer #1
Positive initial contact
Don’t keep customers waiting
Don’t rush customers
Encourage customer to return
Make customers feel special
2. Appropriate Attitude
Respect the customer
Keep communication positive
3. Determine Customer Needs
Ask questions until you understand the customer’s request
Use positively phrased, direct questions
Use active listening to convey respect and verify understanding
Ask how you can better serve the customer’s needs
4. Build Relationships
Keep your word
Provide peace of mind
Seek service opportunities
Know your products and services
Admit errors and lack of knowledge
5. Effective Problem Resolution
Empathize with the customer
Respond to problems in a timely manner
Formulate/negotiate a win-win solution
Don’t take problems/complaints personally
Recognize problems as a learning opportunity
Remember that perception is reality with customer service. If your customers don’t see your organization as one that engages in customer-focused behavior, then you are not providing exceptional customer service. Remember that every time anyone who represents your organization comes in contact with a customer or prospective customer, your reputation is on the line. Treating your customers as valued individuals is often more important than price. You can cultivate loyal customers by focusing on the qualitative factors of service that mean a lot to your customers.