One of the first lessons new business owners learn is that great customer service doesn't just happen.
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It's the result of an intentional, owner-driven process that strives to place the customer at the center of the company's culture, workflows and strategic planning objectives.
The best customer service programs leverage training and other resources to educate customer service personnel in proven strategies and techniques. Training programs are available in many different formats ranging from offsite seminars to in-house video training resources. Most options are highly affordable and well worth the investment for the average business.
But training alone won't produce great customer service. You will also need to inculcate a customer service ethic into every department in your organization. Perhaps the best way to describe what great customer service looks like is to describe what great customer does for your company and your customer base.
Great customer service . . .
- Puts customers first. The customer may not always be right – but the customer should always come first. Great customer service recognizes that the company exists to serve its customers, not vice versa. As a result, all of the company's planning and processes are built around a mission to provide total customer satisfaction.
- Knows the customer. The first step toward great customer service is to educate your entire organization about your customers as well as your products. It's essential for your sales and customer service employees to understand your customer's needs, expectations and purchasing goals.
- Respects the customer. There is no room for unprofessional customer interactions in your organization. Your team needs to be trained to treat every customer with the highest level of respect, even when the customer is behaving inappropriately.
- Trains customer service personnel. Customer service departments benefit from routine training opportunities. Training can be conducted either offsite or in-house – the important thing is that it happens on a consistent basis.
- Measures customer satisfaction. Effective customer service strategies measure customer satisfaction and make adjustments based on quantifiable criteria. Make an effort to incorporate direct customer input into your customer satisfaction metrics and evaluation processes.