On a number of occasions recently I have been on the receiving end of some excellent customer service and this has reminded me how valuable it is in having a successful business.
Of course there are times I get annoyed at bad service I receive and there are times when we have to acknowledge when our own service has not been sufficient. Many case studies look at major international brands to suggest customer service models but for the small business owner the relevance to their own business is small. The ability to fund major training programmes for staff simply does not exist and therefore focussing on a few simple areas is essential.
It is widely accepted that it is far more cost effective to sell more to existing customers than to spend on marketing to obtain new ones. Customer service is a factor in customers buying decisions along with price, quality of product, brand and a number of other factors. Good customer service is profitable. But how do you know what your service is really like?
There is a need to pro-actively obtain feedback from customers and analyse the information to drive improvements. Obtaining robust information is the first step and you are looking for complaints, compliments and neutral views to be recorded.
Ensure you have a variety of methods to obtain client feedback as this will increase the volume of information you can use. Surveys can be generated with ease but should not be your sole channel. Monitoring and logging feedback on Social Media, encouraging staff to record face to face comments and mystery shopping can all be used to obtain information.
You should include the ability to provide anonymous comment so customers feel able to provide genuine feedback increasing the chance of real issues being identified.
Once you have the information do not fall into the trap of just filing the information. Review it to see what common themes it suggests. Identify the areas which can be changed and those that can’t due to legal or contractual reasons. That is not to say they should be dismissed entirely as it could be better communication to customers can improve their feeling of service.
Talk to your customers more about areas where negative comment is received to obtain more detailed information. If nothing else it confirms that you are genuinely interested in service but this targeted approach will confirm the issues identified. Your staff will undoubtedly have their own views and if this coincides with customers views then you really should take note.
You then should be in a positon to plan and implement change to your service and the whole process of obtaining feedback can start again. The reality is this approach done correctly is not onerous, you are simply showing interest in your customers and this will result in more sales.
Written by Andrew Wilson, Head of Enterprise Services, Nwes