My thoughts on customer service.
Real customer service begins with serving the right customer for your business. Once you identify that customer it is time to dig deep into how to provide unparalleled service. With all the technology and systems available to business today, you might think it is easy. It’s not. The problem is not a lack of tools. It is a people issue.
In a recent SuperOffice Customer Service study, the findings were telling. 62% of companies did not respond to a customer service request. 90% of companies did not acknowledge an email, and a whopping 97% of companies did not follow up with customers. Pretty amazing statistics considering everyone I talk to says service is a priority.
Here are a few of the things my company does to better connect with customers.
The “Three Ring” Rule
It may sound simple, but it is everyone’s job to answer the phone. It should never ring more than three times. We have had amazing response to this… and the fact that we actually do answer the phone. If you have ever been caught in the maze of recorded prompts, you know how frustrating it can be when what you need is simply not one of the options. A real person can resolve an issue or answer a question the first time which avoids people having to call back.
Get Everyone in the “Know”
We believe the more people who understand the customer or a project, the more people who can respond to a question or request. That means holding informational meetings to provide a high-level overview of what is going on company-wide. We also employ a project management system and hold people accountable to make sure e-mails are attached, notes are up-to-date, and schedules are set. This makes it easy to reference the history and communicate exactly what is going on with a project or order. Of course, this is easier to do in a smaller company, but it can be done in larger organizations that are disciplined about documenting information.
Reach out before a customer expects it. Send a quick update to let a client know you are working on their project and when they can expect delivery. It’s even better if you deliver before the promised date. But be careful…if you consistently over-perform it will become the new standard. Also, customers need some “love” even if they are not currently working with you. A quick e-mail, short newsletter, or video to highlight new products, trends or other customers can help keep you connected.
These days, most people prefer e-mail communication. There are a number of different customer service software packages that can send automated responses to acknowledge you have received communication and then direct the e-mail to the right person. Of course, automation must be followed up with a real person who reaches out.
Yes. I am right back where I started.
It all comes back to one simple concept. Customer service is not about a department. It is about everyone on your team being willing and disciplined to serve.