Five Ways to Improve Customer Service

We all know that we should put the customer first. But often that’s easier said than done. After all, what does ‘putting the customer first’ really mean? Does it mean having a rigid set of procedures so all customer service is the same, at the expense of flexibility and the ability to connect one-to-one? Or on the other extreme having little guidance to allow staff to interpret needs on a case-by-case basis, but losing control of the implementation of consistency.

As always, the right approach is in the middle somewhere. You need to have rules, policies and guidance to ensure a consistent customer experience, however you also need to contain flexibility to deal with individual circumstances. No doubt you’re wondering how this can be achieved in the real world, and without question it will take time and effort over the long term. Depending on your circumstances and resources there are people that can help. But to get you thinking here are some useful insights:

  1. Rules over Outcomes. Don’t let the rules define the success of a customer engagement, instead make the measure outcome orientated. If your engagement rules are too dominant you will suppress your employee’s ability to implement creative problem solving. e in? – ‘Peter the Quick Printer Repairer’ flags the market. ‘Peter’s Quick Repair Service’ does not.
  2. Customer Service equals Customer Complaints. Don’t set up a system where customer service is something you do after a bad experience or complaint. A service-centric approach should be intrinsic in each front-end customer interaction.
  3. Reward and Acknowledge Staff. Make sure you regularly reward and acknowledge staff that provide great customer service. This motivates the staff and reinforces the standards you are aiming for.
  4. Clear Effective Communication is Key. In any business situation where two or more members of staff are required to help complete a customer interaction, make sure there is a unified, consistent way to communicate the customer requirements and hand-off points. Poor internal communication leads to poor external experience.
  5. Don’t Micro Manage. Make sure your system is set up to empower your employees and acknowledge their abilities to make good decisions. Don’t make every little decision require to be reviewed by a superior. Manage by exception, not by rule.

Have you had success with improving customer service in your business, or experienced outstanding customer service somewhere? What made it stand out? Let me know below.