How do we improve the quality of customer service?
How do we get better results around customer service? Is this something that is more about the training or about our hiring? Can good customer service be taught or is a certain personality a prerequisite? What do you think?
Hi Armando, Customer service is a mix of both, it's about the personality of the customer service rep but also in the training. A lot of companies (especially SME's) are not investing in the right CS training as they believe it's not necessary.
Let me assure you it's probably the most important training that you could invest in (for yourself, your business and your team).
Many people believe CS is about being friendly, the customer is king, and smiling when it is so much more. Your CS reps are the front line of your business, your invisible face so to speak. They are the ones who make sure customers return over and over again, are happy with the products and services they receive and deal with complaints and unhappy customers.
You can learn a lot from a great customer service team and from your customers however only if they are trained well.
Imagine you hire 2 service reps to start with. 1 is extremely friendly but always residing with the customer (has customers business in mind rather than your own), providing free bees to solve problems whereas the other might have a different standard, doesn't provide immediate free gifts and has your business in mind. Both might be wrong in their approach but both believe it's the best way to deal with customers. What do you do?
Customer service is about providing an overall unified approach, no matter who you talk to in your company, the approach/ guidelines/ rules should always apply to everybody. For example, answering the phone first by company name followed by their name with a smile and a how can I help you today?
If one only answers the phone with hello or you're through to company x or you're talking to Dave (because they believe that you already know what company you talk to) you will have a problem eventually because there is no consistency.
Customer service is all about consistent behaviour no matter if you're dealing with customers, suppliers or people just walking in to ask for directions. Your approach should always be the same, no matter who you're dealing with in the company.
Customer Service training alone will not do much, make sure you have follow up coaching included in the training to help your employees achieve the best possible results.
They are representing your business, don't take a chance on just hiring somebody you feel is friendly.
If you have more questions, please feel free to connect on LinkedIn and I can put you in contact with our Customer Service Expert who is more than willing to talk to you or anybody about proper customer service and how to build loyalty.
I hope this is a bit helpful.
Thank you and all the best
I have always felt that there is a company culture that is passed down from upper management and reinforced by HR. One of my observations was that the staff of a company are often like peas in a pod. I see a company whose staff is all sort of folksy country type of folk, and another company whose staff is all sort of stiff know it alls and another company whose staff is extremely professional and skilled.
If you want to improve customer service it needs to be from the top down. You need to develop a culture that cares about customer satisfaction and providing the best products or service in your field. Problems can be a great asset to a company. It can be a way to learn how to improve your products and processes. It can be a way to create a strong bond with a customer when you show them you care about their needs and problems.
Great question Armando! I get this question a lot. I have been fortunate enough to train over a quarter million people from around the world in Excellent Customer Service. There are 3 things you must do to transform your customer service:
1. Hire well! Hire friendly people that are genuinely nice. A lot of times we look just at someone's resume and qualifications and hire based upon that. Though resume and background are important, make sure they have the personality for customer service. Training is essential as well. Make sure you had regular customer service training. However, someone who does not enjoy serving others will be very difficult to train if trainable at all.
2. Make customer focus your top priority from the top down! "You must obsess over your customers." - Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.com Your customers are everything. You need to build customer value into your company culture, values and decisions. It must come from the CEO all the way down to the employees. Treat your employees and communicate with them the SAME way you want them to communicate with your customers. Set an example.
3. Always smile when communicating with your clients. Even over the phone. It comes though. Make sure they know you are eager to help them find solutions, clarify their needs and execute on the solution. Follow up with them to make sure they are taken care of and they THEY think they have been taken care of. Never let an upset customer leave your business or interaction upset.
There are a lot more insights to providing excellent customer service. For a COMPLIMENTARY customer service strategy session, visit me at David Brownlee dot com. You can also check out my YouTube Video Training on the CoachDavidBrownlee Channel, "What is customer service? 7 Essentials To Excellent Customer Service."
Hope this helps Armando. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Good customer service is about 3 things (at a minimal): good training, the right employees and more importantly listening to clients.
Good training: In addition to skill set -- making sure employees are trained in the skills and duties are that required to service customers, employees must exhibit a honest and valued brand of the company by building a rapport with the customers. This will allow employees to not only service the customers, but learn of better ways to service the customer.
Right employees: Training is required, even for experienced employees that are new to the company. Regardless of the amount of experience a new employee possesses, EVERY company differs. Accordingly, as a company continues to grow, you must make sure employees are well-versed in company policies and procedures, as well as requisite skill set. Employees must have the right personality to pleasantly service customers.
Listening to Clients: More often than not companies distribute surveys to customers without making changes or at least investigating customer complaints and/or suggestions. This is critical to improving customer service. If a customer has a bad experience a first time, they are likely to look over that ONE experience, but not a SECOND bad experience. In other words, all customer complaints and suggestions should be investigated and addressed. This is a sure way to build a reputable brand and encourage and build positive word-of-mouth experiences.
Remember a person will always remember how they are made to feel during a particular situation or problem; good or bad.
In addition to a good personality and exceptional training - the customer service representative should have the authority to actually fix the problem. You will get higher quality customer service when the employee actually has the autonomy and authority to "do what it takes" to fix the reported problem. Sometimes it takes some ingenuity and creative co-problem solving with the client. Sometimes, fixing the problem is giving the client a full refund and referring them to a different solution that a competitor is offering.
Carsten is right, but if want to keep the people you have on board, I would bring a blank composition book and use it as a tool for communication.
Say a customer has a problem that you don't know how to solve, but the person that has that skill or knowledge is not on the floor, then you write that as a note to your employee body, so that people can read it.
I had this when I began my job at a retail store and brought the idea to others, it was very effective and very useful in communication.
I would you write a formula for success customer service.
In the process of writing the formula, you will review your current standard of the customer service and rethink your goals at the same time.
Just like to add this little thought " use policies & procedures to restrict actions & guide mindset ...eventually convert these into behaviours and culture or the organization" - use this to build your customer service.
Interesting how all these answers talk about how important customer service is. How hiring the right people and training them is critical to success. What no one even mentioned is how to secure engagement and enrollment from your staff by compensating them appropriately. If your customer support is the key to your businesses success are you paying your customer support people a fair and living wage? Are you providing them with incentives to go above and beyond just answering the phone? Are they rewarded for being problem solvers and relationship builders? Or are you constantly looking for ways to put more money in your pocket at the expense of the people who do the work and actually generate the income? Customer service is often a reflection of the attitudes of company owners and top management. Case in point - Time Warner Cable or Comcast. Top management pays themselves hundreds of times what their labor force makes and their customer service ratings reflect how the workforce see this. Just something to think about.
Striving to be better implies an improvement in the Quality of your customer service, and by extension comparing your actual with a goal. A goal generates metrics.
Classic metrics are:
1. Reported Customer concerns: break this metric into----
-Categorization of concerns
(eg, time to delivery, product quality, % order fulfillment, etc)
-Turnaround time to resolve them (no guessing; you need hard data)
-Number of outstanding cases (eg, >10, 20, 30+ days)
2. Operations/Engineering Support----
-Technical resources assigned by category
-Effectivity of engineering changes when a product is modified
(eg, number of field issues between before and after)
Establish targets for these metrics and measure/track the actuals against them.
To get started, common tools to employ are kaizens and lean analyses, conducted by a qualified facilitator.
Training is important but the CSRs first need to know the standards by which the whole organization will measure itself-- see metrics. They should participate in the kaizen, for example. This promotes buy-in to the overall team's efforts.
Customer Service is a key component of an organization's Balanced Scorecard.
Customer service is an important part of your company. I always say, the company is like a human body, if one part of the body is not healthy, the body don't work well. It's the same for the company.
you want to know, how to improve the quality of your customer service ? and to know if you have the good collaborator in your customer service ? for me the best way is ...ask to your customers. Send a survey. In this survey ask to your customers what they think about your customer service, and try to measuring the smile ont the phone, the quality of you front desk etc...and you could ask them how you could improve your customers service, what they need for to be satisfy.
To improve customer service, it is training, hiring, and the organization’s culture.
If the organization’s culture is not customer, service focused that it is a trickledown effect. People follow leaders, and if leadership does not practice what they preach it is going to have an impact.
Additionally look at your metrics.
Customer service really starts with the education of your customers.
They need to know what they can expect from you and in return what you expect of them.
If the relationship starts on this basis then the customer will not have unrealistic expectations and will not be disappointed when you standby your terms of business.
Further, if you decide to exceed the agreed service levels, they will know you have provided a better service level than agreed.
From this position of strength you be able to renegotiate price levels.
Customer service is usually part of the company culture and therefore is difficult to change unless the inniative is driven from the top.
Good customer service stems from company policies and therefore in my view can be trained but the company must see the importance of customer service and pay much more than lip service to any policy.
As long as policies are robust and fit for purpose, the personality should not be an issue.
Armando, customer service technique can be taught, however that which really matters is the genuineness of your staff. When it comes to customer service people are like blood hounds on the scent. They can sense genuine customer service and spot the fake stuff a mile away. What do you do? Try your best to identify the genuine folks in the hiring practice. As for training, inspire your people to know and believe that each and every one of them matter to the business so that their pride will show when they engage your customers.
Hi Armando- the fact that you and your brand have a passionate concern for 'better customer service' is refreshing. Way too many brands are 100% focused on profits and neglect CRM. Remember, it's more costly to gain a new customer than it is to retain (brand loyalty) one.
To answer your question- it all comes down to personalization, sensitivity, compassion, and good will when it comes to responding to a customer. Be honest, 100% transparent and apologize if you've been in error. Make good- extend your apologies by offering to replace (and your cost) or remedy the customer's concern to 100% satisfaction.
Practice this motto: Do whatever it takes to resolve the customer's concern and earn back their loyalty.
Lastly, switch places with the customer and ask yourself, 'how would I like to be treated if this was me?'...I think you'll find these tips useful and wishing you much success. G
Good customer service can be taught, but part of that involves defining what your customer means to you and what type of experience you want the customer to have. I recommend a proactive approach to customer service that emphasizes the importance of the customer experience and ideally heads off potential issues and problems instead of waiting to react to them.
This may sound a little off-beat, but I would urge you to look online for the CNBC show, "The Profit" and find the episode about Key West Key Lime Pie Store. They transformed that location, the customer experience, customer service, streamlined product offerings, and had some very good business advice. Marcus Lemonis is very effective and got this business humming.
1. Everyone in the business is part of customer service so everyone needs to have an opportunity for professional development and input in to what customer service is and how it is reflected in the day to day operations of the business.
2. Keep your eye on the ball so that you're always aiming to fulfill WHY you do what you do. What is the change in the world that your business needs to be.
3. Role play, Role play, Role play
4. Measure results by clarifying how you will know that you are achieving the customer service standards you set out and check that against the reality on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.
You need to hire people with the right attitudes, competencies and personalities for customer service to begin with. And then you need to adequately train them for the specific customer service needs of your business and your customer. The training then needs to be conducted by someone with the right training and customer service mindset, to ensure it properly equips your customer service staff. The training must then be followed up with on-the-job testing and ongoing coaching until you see excellence in results. That excellence needs to be monitored and maintained, to see the development of a culture of excellence in customer service within the company.
I agree that it is more about culture and hiring people who believe in that culture than training, systems, or anything else. I also agree that the culture must come from the top and permeate the entire company. I had a partner that was not into customer loyalty and there was definitely a portion of my company that also didn't care about my programs because he didn't. So to me the most important thing is defining a culture of customer loyalty (not just satisfaction) and then ensuring everyone from the top down buys in!
If you want to know what a real customer loyalty (not just satisfaction) plan looks like, please feel free to contact me via my LinkedIn.
Consider the following 2 things:
1. Keep in touch with customers and tell what you are doing for them.
2. Ask whats more you can do for them
when they respond to you, listen to them do them what they need.