The Three R’s of Customer Service Or “Can You Relate?”
By David L Mount
Reputation – Everyone has one good or bad. They are not always fair or accurate but they always affect the perceptions of those we come in contact with. Businesses need to build a reputation based on service actions. These actions become what the public thinks of the business.
Its simple, action determines reputation. What you do is becomes who you are in the eyes of your customers. We also must realize that while a reputation can be a volatile thing it is also quite forgiving when supported by and built on a well defined mission statement and set of committed well communicated values. These values must be the platform that all business decisions pivot upon. There should be no surprises as to what constitutes good, great, or exceptional service.
If you ask your customers to evaluate your customer service efforts what will you learn? What will your reputation sound like? What about internal service standards are they different? Should they be? In what ways? What would an internal customer service survey sound like? The fact is that the external sales result is a direct reflection of the internal service effort.
Relationship – Service attitudes must be relational in nature and include things like learning repeat customers’ names, listening before the selling begins, selling by helping and letting trust and integrity drive sales. Emphasizing people before product and process will improve overall results. Focusing on relationships internally creates a culture where personnel take ownership of the business and produce based on personal pride and agreed standard of performance.
Externally relationship orientation produces a loyal partnership with mutual investment and mutual desire to succeed. Businesses that put the customer relationship first retain customers longer and grow along with the businesses they support and are supported by. When your customers see you as a resource and part of their business plan your business will grow and thrive.
Recovery – A commitment to quality is essential to the sales and service process. When things go wrong there must be commitment and agreement on the recovery strategy.
Strategy implies forethought, and there should be no doubt what action to take when a customer contact employee encounters a recovery incident. Statistics are clear that when a problem occurs, 70 percent of customers will continue to do business with you if the problem is resolved. That figure jumps to 91 percent when the problem is resolved at the time the incident happens.
In other words you increase customer retention when your personnel know their boundaries and how to resolve problems. Better still when business owners empower customer contact employees to be decision makers this will simplify the recovery process.
The bottom line is, when things go wrong make them right with no excuses. Then manage the reason for the problem or mistake after making it right. Just fixing the problems is not enough. Customer recovery is only half recovery. Training, communication, procedures or processes must be considered and altered when needed.
Notice these elements have a common theme at the heart. People! People make a business. Not a product, not a process. People, you and me buy from them and they. Business is relational. Building relationships therefore is a principle worth investing in. Promote relationships and relationships will promote you and your business.
David Mount is a corporate trainer and productivity coach. He has been teaching professionals to be more productive and to deliver better customer service for 20 years. Visit Core Training Solutions at http://www.c–ts.com to enroll in a Core Productivity Time Management webinar.