Getting and Keeping a Customer for Life
If you could provide a service as close to instantaneous as possible, how would your customers view that? Let us say you have a standard six day wait for your customer's order and they know and expect this. And then you turn around and provide the order in three days. How would that impress your customer?
Customer service could be defined as providing what the customer wants in an impressive manner. Customer service is:
Giving the customer what they expect from you
Excellent customer service is:
Exceeding those expectations
It is worth noting that
THE CUSTOMER EXPECTS NOTHING LESS THAN PERFECT SERVICE OR THE BEST PRODUCT YOU CAN DELIVER.
The customer always expects the best. They do not want or expect to receive second best service. Would you jump on a plane where it is announced the pilot was one of the second best pilots for the day? Of course not! You would hope and expect the pilot of your plane to be the best available. If you go into a supermarket to buy your food, would you put in your shopping basket something that was half opened and shoddy looking or past its use by date? Of course not! You pick the best looking product you can find right?
This is what your customers do also. Many in fact make a point of looking for the use by date to ensure they pick the longest lasting product.
This tells you the level of service and product quality and delivery you need to maintain in order to have satisfied customers and little or no complaints!
It is not, how you talk to them or 'handle them.' That is not customer service.
Customer service is putting into place those steps and procedures required to ensure a quality product is delivered to your customer's door or an excellent service is fully delivered to your customer. That a follow up of some sort is made after the service or product is delivered to ensure your customer is satisfied and their expectations were met.
If the customer knows you deliver 'ujamaflips' on a 48 hour turn around and every time a coconut when they order an 'ujamaflip' they get one within 48 hours on their door step he will be a happy customer. And if he gets a follow up call or email asking if everything is okay and did he get his 'ujamaflip' on time and in good condition? You will have an ecstatic customer who will stay with you forever.
If your delivery is a hit or miss affair or the 'ujamaflip' turns out to be a 'duberedoo' instead, your customer will not be totally inspired by your ability to deliver what was promised. Then you will likely get a complaint, if you are lucky, or your competitor will get it if you are unlucky.
So customer service is not just listening or not arguing or being able to 'negotiate' with the customer. Although these are important, customer service includes those things you do before you have to listen or not argue or negotiate.
Ensure you have adequate stocks of your products. That they are up to scratch and work efficiently and are delivered on time and in the condition the customer expects them to be. Your service is exemplary and all-encompassing which is to say you leave nothing out. Ensure the customer is satisfied at every turn. Fully complete the service with no cut corners or skimping.
Going That Extra Mile
"A satisfied customer ... we should have him stuffed."
Basil Fawlty. 'Communications Problems.' Fawlty Towers.
For Basil Fawlty perhaps, a satisfied customer was a rarity hence the desire to have him stuffed for posterity. For you however it should be commonplace. Ideally all your customers should be satisfied. The success of a business most often depends on repeat business that is only obtainable from satisfied customers.
So what is the best way to keep your customers forever? How can you generate fierce customer loyalty? How do you change a disgruntled customer who bitches and complains to all and sundry, to one that sings your praises to all who come within earshot?
You go that extra mile. That's how.
Well what does it mean going that extra mile? It means surprising the customer unexpectedly with a service that shows you care or are interested in them. Delivering in 24 hours what was expected within 48 is an example.
Extending customer service beyond the customer's expectations.
Giving the irreducible service that one can 'get away with' is easily perceived by the customer. Customers can feel when they are being fobbed off or given the perfunctionary regulation service. Going that extra mile is doing more than that. When it is done well it is impressive and almost guaranteed to capture a customer forever. If you can extend your customer service beyond the customer's expectations you will have a customer for life. But what can you do to give your customers an extended customer service that goes beyond your customer's expectations? Being the Rolls Royce of customer service and making the customer feel important is a good start. Guess how Rolls Royce customers are treated? Roll out the metaphorical red carpet for all customers. How would you feel if you were treated this way? You would be a customer for life!
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