Three Low Cost Ways to Improve Customer Service

Thank them jpeg

Recently in a LinkedIn  group, one of the members asked the following question: “The global economy is slowing down, but you’ve been asked to do the impossible: Control costs AND improve customer service experience. How can you do it?” While I commented within the group, LinkedIn limited the space allowed for the response so I wanted to elaborate here.

Here are three low cost ways that have worked for me in improving customer service.

Create a Customer Satisfaction Investigation (CSI) team. Isn’t it criminal to take a customer’s money and then not deliver to meet his expectations?  This team, with at least one representative from every department, should meet at least once a week to review customer feedback.  Like a CSI team, the purpose of the team is to review all the details of each negative customer experience to see if they can find out why it happened. If you do not have a survey process, ask your employees to document and forward any complaint to the CSI team. For every customer who complains, 26 others didn’t say anything (Lee Resource, Inc.) and simply walked away. No one can afford that kind of customer churn. Once identified, work fast to eliminate the dissatisfier. You cannot begin to satisfy customers until you remove all the potential dissatisfiers. You have got to remove them from negatively affecting future customer experiences.

Continually remind your team of the importance of customer service. One of my favorite quotes is from Samuel Johnson, “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” Day One and Done customer service training is simply not enough. It’s amazing how much of the first day of new hire orientation is spent on defining the rules and restrictions, usually required by the legal department, that, if not followed, will result in termination. While that information is important, consider the overall message you are giving new employees at the end of their first day. Balance the message by describing the empowerment processes that employees can use to exceed customer expectations and offer specific stories when employees went above and beyond for your customers. After onboarding, continue to reinforce that message with customer service tips and stories via email, screensaver messages, and periodic refresher customer service training. As many of the luxury hotel chains and fine dining restaurants known for delivering consistently exceptional service, conduct a fifteen-minute daily briefing that reinforces your brand’s core values and service standards.

Recognize and celebrate those who deliver great customer service. Too often managers focus on identifying an employee’s service deficiencies. These “areas that need improvement” are usually only conveyed to the employee at the annual performance review. Instead celebrate throughout the year the stories of employees who have created WOW moments for their customers. Create a booklet of customer service stories to be distributed on Day One of your onboarding process. Every new employee is a sponge of company information on the first day. Let them soak in the stellar reputation of your company as built by your customers’ perceptions of your employees’ exceptional service.  To reinforce that Day One feeling, frequently post or distribute via email the positive customer comments. Send a handwritten thank you note to the home of the individual employees who created a memorable moment for one of your customers. You can be assured they will share proudly that note with their family. If you want your employees to make it a habit to deliver outstanding customer service, you have to make it a habit to thank them when they do.

When you systematically remove the potential dissatisfiers, continually remind your employees of the importance of customer service, and habitually recognize and celebrate the stories of exceptional service you will increase dramatically the value of service as perceived by your customer.

4 Comments

Filed under Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction, Leadership, Training

4 responses to “Three Low Cost Ways to Improve Customer Service

  1. There are some great ideas here Bill – another way to boost staff engagement is to learn from other people-centric industries, such as hotels on how they deliver a great customer experience without spending too much. There are more examples in this Eptica blog post http://www.eptica.com/blog/customer-service-lessons-hotel-sector

    • Eptica, Thank you very much. I believe in the CASE Method for improving customer service. CASE: Copy and Steal Everything or Copy and Save Everything. I, too, agree that there are great ideas any organization can CASE from the hotel industry and your post offers some of the best low cost methods. I’ll be sure to share your insight via other social media platforms.

  2. I agree with automation and treating customers well. If you continuously treat your current customers well, there is a chance for them to recommend you. In fact, if you always go another mile just to help them, you can expect them to help you and even back you up in case something bad happens to your business.

    • Darrell, I totally agree with you. Consistent customer service is no longer enough. It is all about customer care. For example, when I was resort manager, whenever a guest complained to me about their experience, of course, we would fix it, but we also archived every issue in detail. Upon the return of those guests, we would review the list of dissatisfiers so their poor perception was not repeated. At the same time, I contacted them during their stay to welcome them back and ask if there were any suggestions they might have to enhance their onsite vacation experience. The perception of “priceless” for the guests was not that we had made sure that everything that was broken before in their experience did not reoccur, but it was the sincere gesture that we had listened to them and made every effort that they was satisfied. Their perception went from “They served us well”, to “They really care about us”. Over time, every single one of those guests who originally had a bad experience became our strongest advocates, not only to other guests but also on social media. My mantra: Work as hard to keep a customer as you do to find a new one.

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