I’ve had customer service on my mind a lot lately. First from the aggravation of needing to communicate with my credit card company and loathing their automated voice mail system. Then when I was talking to the owner of a cleaning business. I couldn’t stop thinking about how she created such a loyal customer base and retained her cleaning staff.
It makes sense that happy cleaners would create happy customers, but how do you take a seemingly thankless job, often seen as demeaning, and create a talented and prideful staff.
While there are many pieces to this puzzle, this newsletter focuses on three that are universal and foundational to building a sustainable organization.
Rule Number One: Your staff can’t read your mind and you shouldn’t expect them to.
If you want your business to be around tomorrow, you must plan for it. And I’m not talking about strategy or vision or long-term; I’m talking about tomorrow.
I’m talking about the operational tactics you need to lay out for your staff, so they know what’s expected of them from a manager’s perspective. That overarching roadmap of what we’re going to do as a company over the coming year and what we expect to accomplish.
Rule Number Two: Only sell to the right customers
There are three types of prospects.
- Those that don’t want or need your products/services
- Those that can use them and don’t need them
- Those that need them, maybe not right now, but they will at some point
Being able to quickly and easily identify who needs your products/services, whether now or in the future, unlocks a multitude of benefits.
You will know who to pursue and who to say no to saving time and money wasted on unlikely customers.
You will shorten the learning curve by identifying and establishing best practices that serve all your customers instead of individuals.
You will create realistic objectives to measure performance allowing you to reward those who contribute and sanction those who don’t.
You will stop wasting time catering to singular needs and focus on leveraging economies of scale.
You will provide clarity to every employee who may be a customer so they can finally participate in the sales process, even if just a tiny bit.
And the list goes on.
Rule Number Three: Everybody needs clear goals and appropriate levels of authority.
And here’s where customer service starts coming into focus.
Every employee understands they have a job to do, and most know what that job is. What they don’t always know is the impact of their efforts. That’s where the concept of goals enters.
Along with the tasks you assign to your team, you must ensure they understand where their efforts lead and that satisfied customers are part of everyone’s responsibility. Regardless of whether they interact directly with customers or indirectly impact the customer experience, everyone has a role in customer service whether they know it or not.
When it comes to delivering products and services, consistent levels of customer service outweigh all other aspects of the end-user experience. Buyers expect to get what they pay for. An organization that cannot consistently fulfill the expectations of its customers is undependable. Customer service is about setting expectations and delivering on them. Without consistent customer service, customers are short-lived.
What makes a business stand out is outstanding customer service. Yes, I get the play on words. None-the-less, when you can create an outstanding customer service experience, you’ve begun developing customers for life.
If you want to stop working in a vacuum and want to hear more about the concepts in my new book, Businesses Don’t Fail, They Commit Suicide; How to survive your success and thrive in good times and bad, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and schedule a 20-minute exploration session. We’ll talk about what makes your business special. We’ll discuss how to work toward outstanding customer service. With the dramatic changes happening around us, now is THE best time to begin.
You’ll find more on business, leadership, and change in my Mandelblog, the information source leaders depend on.