If you want to offer the best possible customer service experience, be sure to be consistent.
How consistent are you with your customers? One sure way to lose business to competing vendors is to give a customer one answer the first time he or she has a question and a different answer the next time the issue is raised.
Even worse is when one customer receives concessions that others do not; such as extending return deadlines or accepting returns on “final sale” items.
And don’t forget the importance of consistency of service.
Are customers receiving their product in three days the first time they order, but 10 days the second time around?
This can be confusing and inconvenient, especially for customers in a “continuity program.” Inconsistent delivery will get the product to them either too “early” or too “late.” It’s very important to have a consistent service record.
Customers deserve to know that the company they are dealing with has a consistent approach to taking care of its customers. And the secret to making that happen? Train. Train. Then train some more!
Training is critical to customer service. Training keeps everyone “on the same page” and in the know about your customers and the products they order. And while employees’ busy schedules can make finding time to train difficult, the need is not diminished. Training can often be done over the lunch hour, in the evenings or even remotely. And some companies will rotate their employees through the training process to ensure their phones still get answered and customers are still taken care of properly.
When planning your employee training sessions, consider including the following topics:
Answer the phone within three rings. A prompt and pleasant response starts the customer’s call off on the right foot. Record in-coming calls periodically; then listen to call center staff to see how they sound and to make any necessary improvements. Call center managers should also listen to their operators periodically to ensure each one is providing the best customer service possible.
Product Information and Promotions
Provide employees with easily accessible product information. When taking calls about a particular product, make certain they not only have the product label at their desk, but have detailed product information easily accessible, as well.
Make sure employees are up- to-date on any product promotions, current advertising or public relations efforts. Failing to offer a special price on a product that has been included in an ad, promotional article or direct marketing mailing can result in product returns, ill will and possible loss of customers.
Address customer complaints quickly. Simple errors can become much bigger problems if allowed to go unresolved for more than a couple of days.
Go above and beyond. For instance, if a customer asks you to provide additional information by Email, send it immediately. Don’t put it on your “to do” list for the next day.
Whether you have very strict or somewhat flexible return policies, make sure all employees follow them in the same manner for all customers. Inconsistent expectations regarding return timeframes and conditions can lead to loss of business as well as public relations headaches if a customer shares a bad experience on traditional or social media outlets
The bottom line: If you want to offer the best possible customer service experience, be sure to be consistent! When you provide consumers with outstanding customer service, you’ll quickly and continually see the results on your bottom line!
About the Author
Keith Milburn is Co-Founder and President of Innovative Fulfillment Solutions. IFS is committed to offering clients superior customer service while helping them cost-effectively manage the all-important operational systems of their organizations.