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How many times in your life have you left a customer service agent feeling so good about how they handled your needs, you were ready to tell all your friends about the company and how good they treated you? These moments happen all the time in organizations that have established a culture of customer-centric celebration, and they reap the rewards that come with it every day.

In my experience, too many companies are leaving a tremendous amount of money on the table by not leveraging a business model that focuses on the customer. The cold, hard truth of the matter is that many businesses will never reach their growth potential if investments aren’t made in fostering relationships with the customer.

Being in the business of delighting customers for many years, I get a true sense of pride and satisfaction when customers speak highly of my organization’s service delivery teams, because this is the beginning of what can become legendary customer service. Developing a service organization that automatically responds to customers in a helpful manner is really the key to progress, so I thought I would share some of my favorite ways of accomplishing this.

  • Be proactive in your communications, regardless of the communication medium being used by the customer or your business.
  • If there are obvious issues contributing to a negative customer experience that can be corrected, triage them immediately to stop the bleeding.
  • Assess how easy it is for a customer to do business with your organization. If it’s harder than it needs to be, assess your alternatives and change it. Don’t forget to communicate the change to your customers.
  • Establish a baseline of customer satisfaction that comparisons can be made against in the future. Without a baseline, you have nothing to measure against.
  • Jump in with the service teams and understand how they work, what makes each person tick, where efficiencies are, and areas needing improvement.
  • Leverage competitive intelligence to learn what customers like and dislike about competitors. Buy competitor products and call or go online with their service team for help to see how effective they are. Analyze the results.
  • Partner with all areas of the business to establish relationships that will endure the test of time. Be helpful to them, and seek help from them when needed.
  • Set goals with your service delivery teams that are understood, realistic and measurable, and then establish KPI’s that people can support.
  • Determine customer loyalty in order to build action plans that will contribute to team success. One service I’ve used before was NetPromoter, due to how elegant and simple the solution was.
  • Adopt a customer-focused talent development program that incorporates role-play, such as Ron Zemke’s “Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service”. I’ve used it several times throughout my career, and it works.
  • Incorporate a personality assessment tool into your talent acquisition and management processes to help make informed decisions. I’ve used the Golden Personality Type Profiler and Predictive Index to accomplish this, and both work well.
  • Make use of data from every possible source, and analyze it, to look for valuable insights to improve and evolve your business and products. Common sources for this data include web forums, social networks, call center logs, diagnostic data, financial reports, Google alerts, customer email, and product databases.
  • Build a variety of team and individual incentive programs that reward hard work and encourage the delivery of memorable customer experiences. Think out of the box, and tie incentives back to what makes your team members tick.

When coupled with high achieving leadership and vision, customer service groups can generate incredible amounts of good will with customers, which in turn can result in top-line revenue growth from repeat business and simple word-of-mouth promotion.  When service teams are proactive at delivering game-changing contact center information about customer-requested features or product issues to internal business groups empowered to act on it, the organization as a whole can become a runaway locomotive no competitor can catch. If this level of customer focus is ingrained into the culture of the organization and sustained over years, customer loyalty will rise and your company will become known to deliver legendary customer service.

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