By Nathan R. Mitchell
Great service is an integral part of business—unfortunately, it’s not as important as it should be to some organizations. A company’s two most important assets are its people and its customers. When you take care of your employees and your customers at the same time, it’s a win-win for everyone involved, and you have the potential for creating a sustainable advantage over your competition. Here are seven principles for great customer service in your organization:
1. Treat your employees like they are your best customers. Organizations should treat their employees as if they are their best customers. Aren’t they who the customers interact with on the front lines on a daily basis? Treat your employees well, and they will desire to do the same to those who keep you in business.
2. Realize the customer is KING. Notice I said, “The customer is KING.” I didn’t say the customer is always right! Yes, even Kings make mistakes. There were plenty of times in the corporate sector when I dealt with people who were in the wrong. But I always treated them well and with the respect and dignity they deserved for being valued customers of the organization.
3. Always over-deliver. Over-delivering is an easy way to separate your business from the competition and an easy way to keep customers happy. Ask yourself on a daily basis:
• What can I do for my customers that is unexpected?
• How can I serve them in a way that my competition cannot?
• What can I do to follow-up and ensure they had a pleasant experience?
4. Anticipate your customer’s wants and needs, and offer those things to them. It’s important to not only identify your customers’ needs but also to anticipate them. Most people buy emotionally. And more often than not, they are buying you or your brand, not the product or service you have to offer! Help them solve their problems, and you have won a loyal customer for a lifetime.
5. Ask your customers regularly how you are doing. Feedback is invaluable. Too many times, we don’t offer it to our employees, and we surely don’t ask our customers for it. Perhaps we are afraid of what we might hear. But the information you gather from a brief, honest assessment of your business will prove invaluable long term. Who knows? You may even like what you hear!
6. Be a good listener. Being a good listener starts with asking the right questions. Take the time to identify your customers’ needs, and focus on what they are trying to communicate. It isn’t always obvious what the real underlying issues are, but if you listen and be empathetic to customers’ situations, those issues are usually easily resolved.
7. Never hide behind the “I’m sorry, it’s policy,” apology. I don’t have much more to say on this one. It’s simply the worst thing I’ve ever heard both in the workplace and as a customer myself. Customers don’t care what your rulebook says. They just want to know that you value them and are willing to take care of their needs and make them happy.
Nathan R. Mitchell is a business coach, author and speaker and the founder of Clutch Consulting LLC.