Customer Service Realities
As more and more of our economy shifts to the service sector (consulting, concierge services, healthcare, technology, etc.) and away from manufacturing, customer service is a critical part of the service offerings. Perhaps it has always been the case, but lately, I'm noticing many blogs, professional posts, and "how to" articles about providing great "customer service". Ironically, the more emphasis I see placed on customer service, the worse my personal customer service experiences seem to get. I'm often amused by the frequent line I hear on customer service calls, "have I provided you with world-class customer service today?". If you have to ask...
Companies are rushing to prove that they provide great customer service as they follow up with every customer interaction to gather data via surveys, follow-up calls, social media requests, etc.
Providing exceptional customer service does not usually require a degree program. It is not a new concept as many authors, lecturers, and motivational speakers will have you believe. A lot of it is common sense, and revolves around treating others as you would want to be treated -- a fundamental aspect of the "Golden Rule".
Recently, the CMO Within Reach parent company, Home-Build Concierge, was honored to be awarded Best of Houzz 2016 for Client Satisfaction, which is the highest level for client satisfaction by the Houzz community. Since we at CMO Within Reach pride ourselves on exceptional marketing consulting services, customer service is critical to our success. We have gathered some thoughts and observations about customer service and thought we would share them with our readers:
Answer the phone -- today
When I have to call a customer service number number, nothing says "We don't care about you as a customer" like the recorded message that says, "Your call is important to us, please hold". The repeating message begs the question, "If my call is so important, why don't you answer the phone?". We all understand that the universe does not revolve around "me", but if every time I call I hear "we are experiencing unusually high call volume", chances are, the company I'm calling needs to hire more staff to answer the phone.
Whether you're a Realtor, a business executive, storekeeper, or whatever, if your customer or prospect has to call or email you more than once to get an answer or follow-up that you promised, you're not providing good customer service. To provide good customer service, not only do we have to be responsive to our customers, but we also have to be proactive. Even if we're busy, we need to set the expectation of when the client will have what they need from us.
Return phone calls and reply to emails -- yes, really
We all have friends and family who are impossible to reach. They take a while to respond to phone calls, emails, texts, or smoke signals. Unfortunately, in business, this practice of delayed responses is also not uncommon. Consumers and businesses are utilizing a multitude of communication channels lately to communicate (phone, text, email, postal mail, websites, social media, etc.). With the availability of real-time communication tools , there is no excuse for being unresponsive. Unless you don't care and want to tell your client that you don't care, when you receive an email, text, or call, be sure to respond.
Again, realizing that people are busy, consider the communication channel and the expected response time. For example, I would rank the following communication channels in order of expected response times, from most immediate to least urgent:
social media (Tweet, direct message, etc.)
website contact form
Say what you mean, and mean what you say
It is worth noting that if you make a promise (implied or otherwise) to your internal or external customers, make good on your promise. It speaks volumes about your personal and professional integrity and overall customer service. If for whatever reason, circumstances have changed and you are unable to make good on your promise, let your customer know.
The customer service experience doesn't stop with you
Every interaction with your clients speaks volumes about your customer service focus. Even if you've provided the most thorough, friendly services, all it takes is one poor customer service experience to taint the perception of good customer service. If you employ consultants or subcontractors, their behavior will often reflect on you and your company. Consistency is critical when you strive to provide good customer service.
When it comes to your marketing consulting needs, CMO Within Reach is here to help -- always providing the best customer service we can.