1. Keep your customers fully briefed. When will you have an answer to their enquiry or finish repairing their machine?
2. Keep a diary to remind you of your clients’ attitudes, interests, hobbies, and personal details the clients have told you. Note the names of their team members – and use them.
3. When clients call, go into listening mode. Ask questions. Complaint? Follow-up with more questions and show that it matters. Acknowledge the customers’ worries, frustration, or disappointment.
4. Ensure that your tone on the phone and in person reflects the customers’ royal status. Will your customers know that you are taking their problem seriously?
5. Carry out random acts of kindness. Make sure they are appropriate to the client.
6. Make follow-up calls. ‘How’s business? How is our communication with you? How is our machine performing? Any problems we can help with?
7. Look for opportunities to add lagniappe – something extra they would value and are not expecting.
8. 'Promise bronze. Aim to deliver gold.’ Repairs will probably take a week? Say you’ll have them finished within 10 days. Aim for a week.
9. Encourage your clients to suggest and complain - early. Ask: how can we give you better service?
10. Discover what your clients dislike about using firms like yours and keep showing that it doesn't apply to you or your organisation.
11. Bring something for morning tea.
12. Find out what other suppliers are doing in your market. Brainstorm ways of taking their service to the next level.
Action, not just talk
Encourage your team to come up with their own ideas to extend the list. Then, make sure they see the results - asap. Do that and even the office grump will come around. Office grumps are the first to resist talk about customer service and will assume that it will come to nothing. Prove them wrong.
The more control you give to your team as they turn talk into action the better. You want them to own the customer service improvement programme so they can look back and say 'we did that'. Ownership keeps the momentum going and shows up in subtle ways like tone of voice and initiative.
Customer service is an opportunity for everyone to shine and a valuable attrribute for anyone intertested in developing their career. Help them shine. Encourage them to think of their achievements as examples they can add to their C.V. and discuss in their next promotion or job interview.
Are they struggling to come up with new ways to improve their customer service?
Encourage them to imagine what it's like being a customer of theirs. Lead them to examine their service in specific ways.
For example, 'Imagine visiting our office for the first time'...
- What would you see? How would that make you feel? (Confused about where to go or who to see? Intimiated? Disappointed or impressed?)
- Would we introduce ourselves?
- Would we make you feel special and that your issue mattered to us? How?
Look in detail and face reality
Ask your team to consider...
- communication (Do we keep customers informed? Do we tell them how long a job or delivery will take? What do we do if that changes?)
- contact (What happens if someone is away? Are we always available? Should we be? After office hours?)
- credibility (Do we let customers down? Do we know enough about our products and service to describe them accurately? Do customers know about our expertise?)
- consistency (Do we give excellent service every time? Could we create a system so that we do?)