Every week should be customer service week
In 1984 the International Customer Service Association (ICSA), which since merged with PACE, created and launched National Customer Service Week™. On October 8, 1992, President George H. W. Bush signed Presidential Proclamation 6485 establishing the first week of October as National Customer Service Week™. (Source: http://www.paceassociation.com/p/cm/ld/fid=457). Don’t you think that every week should be customer service week?
Who do you prefer to do business with?
You might be wondering why I’m touching on this subject today –let’s just say that I’ve had a mixture of good and bad customer service in the past week. I started off my week with a not so good customer experience (but fortunately had several good ones during the week). It started out with my working on a tradeshow that I am attending an upcoming in another state (remain unnamed). I needed to complete the tax registration for collecting sales tax in that state so I completed the form, the best I could. I still had a few questions so I called their hotline number and found out they aren’t open on weekends (open Mon-Friday 8:30 am – 4:30 pm) – okay I can accept that. Monday morning I called right at 8:30 am – closed due to President’s day (are state offices supposed to be closed?!). Tuesday morning again I called right at 8:30 am – closed due to inclement weather (ugh)! Wednesday morning again I called right at 8:30 am – 3 minute wait time – finally I get a person who didn’t sound thrilled to be there when she answered the phone. I explained the situation and she told me the answers were in the instructions for the form and that she couldn’t go through the entire form with me. I read the instructions no less than 5 times and I only had 4 questions!! Anyway, she finally did answer my 4 questions and I sent off my form; crossing my fingers that the form is filled out correctly and that I will get my tax registration in time for the show. I’m sure all of you have had experiences like this. They are frustrating but are so easily avoided by some simple customer service procedures and processes put into place. So if you had a choice, is this someone you would like to do business with?
How can companies improve their customer service?
Since Customer service ranks as the #1 factor influencing how much a consumer trusts a company – it is definitely important for companies to pay attention to their customer service. (Source: http://blogs.salesforce.com/company/2013/10/customer-service-stats-55-of-consumers-would-pay-more-for-a-better-service-experience.html.) I actually think customer service is so important to creating a successful business that we actually include a whole section on customer service in our Youth Entrepreneur Camp curriculum. Here are some of things we teach the kids at the camp but can are applicable to any business.
1) Everyone is responsible for customer service. This could be the person preparing the materials, answering the phone or setting up the room. It doesn’t have to be someone in direct contact with the customer – the important thing to note is the culture needs to focus on the customer and make sure everyone understands how their role touches the customer. You need to have a plan for dealing with customers (good and bad) and make sure it is communicated throughout the organization. You may want to create a customer service mantra – a short saying (such as Disney’s “Be Our Guest”) which is an easy way to infuse the culture into the organization. The Ritz Carlton Hotel has always been known for an exceptional customer experience; this story about the Ritz Carlton Hotel Amelia Island goes above and beyond: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-hurn/stuffed-giraffe-shows-wha_b_1524038.html
2) First Impressions are crucial – you have a short time to make a first impression, so figure out the first thing you are going to do (how you will greet them, what your website will say about you, what your social media sites will contain), document them and train employees on them.
3) Actively listen to the customer and communicate that to your team. The person directly communicating with the customer needs to listen to the customer and makes sure they communicate their requests to the rest of the team (If the team doesn’t know they can’t help).
4) Have clear instructions that the customer can find easily. Okay I added this one after my experiences this past week. I neglected to say that I had some wonderful customer experiences this past week. Those included clear instructions on their websites with easy to find answers – their staff followed up quickly, answered my questions (pleasantly I might add) so that I could accomplish what I came to their business for. This certainly makes a world of difference. They definitely have my return business!
Now I challenge you to think of a customer mantra for your business and share.