Customer Service Basics

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    First question you should ask yourself…How do you measure customer satisfaction?

    If you are measuring by the # of complaints you are or are not receiving, you are in trouble. Not everybody bothers to take the time to tell you about his/her horrible experience. If you are asking your customers if they are satisfied, you are telling them that their satisfaction matters.

    There are many different ways to ask: post-purchase and post-support surveys, enclosures in the monthly invoice, follow-up phone calls and quarterly or annual surveys. The right method depends on your business and your customer base. Try different ways. Just do it.

    A few basic rules about customer service:

    Honesty is the Best Policy. Integrity – Be honest and own up to your mistakes. Communicate what you plan to do to change or prevent the same mistake from happening again. Don’t be fooled into believing that a regular ‘mea culpa’ will get you off the hook. At some point the plan to fix the problem must take effect!

    Break Glass in Case of Fire. Response Time – The best tact is to quickly get on the phone with the customer to explain your company’s mistake. Don’t rely on email for this communication if it can be done quickly one on one. If you are communicating to a large customer base then email is certainly the fastest and most effective way to quickly notify your customers that you are aware of the problem. Frequent updates is there is a protracted issue and a brief overview of how you will prevent it from happening in the future will give your customers confidence that you are aware of the customer impact.

    Keeping it Real. Set a Realistic Expectation – Customers who have been promised something that isn’t delivered as promised are far more frustrated and disappointed than if they are notified at the outset they won’t have it sooner than later. In other words, under promise and over deliver is the best policy. This may take some arm wrestling with other departments who want to take a feature or product to market before it is ready. Set the expectations correctly internally as to what the fallout may be so everyone understands the impact to customer satisfaction and ultimately customer retention.

    R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Everyone in your company should love your customers. Without them, you have no company. This doesn’t mean you won’t have difficult customers who will push the limits and try everyone’s patience. But if you don’t have a company philosophy to respect and appreciate your customers, the opposite tone will infect customer interactions from all departments. All departments, customer facing or not, should care about customer satisfaction.

    From Gandhi, “We must become the change we want to see in the world.”

    Use these 4 tenets as the foundation for your customer service mission. What do you do to ensure your customers are treated as your most important asset?