Recently, I experienced first-hand both ends of the customer service spectrum. I had a wonderful experience at a local Indian restaurant where the hospitality was first class. In contrast, I was on the receiving end of some particularly poor customer service at a main car dealership in Norwich.
Whilst I’ll certainly be returning to the Indian restaurant, and recommending it to my friends, the experience at the car dealership left me with a very sour taste in my mouth. Maybe I just caught them on a bad day? But really, there should be no excuse.
“Customer excellence” is one of the areas I spend a lot of time working on with my clients. The importance of it is often ignored within organisations, as targets and deadlines take precedence. But ignore it at your peril. Customer excellence is a vital ingredient in business growth.
In short, customer excellence is about being excellent in the eyes of your customer. A simple concept, but very important.
Customer excellence drives profitable growth. By putting your customer at the centre of everything the company does, you’ll ensure that you’re delivering the product or service that they need. Doing that will help you achieve long-term customer satisfaction which, in turn, means you’re better able to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage. So, it’s not just about creating a warm, fuzzy feeling for your customers. It’s directly linked to the successful growth of your organisation.
But building a culture of customer excellence within your organisation relies on your team having the passion and commitment to delivering a positive customer experience time after time. How do you build that?
There are a number of key steps to building and sustaining customer excellence within your business:
It’s a pretty fundamental concept for business success. But knowing exactly what your customer needs is vital. If you don’t know, find out. Conduct some market research and refine your proposition based on the findings. Understand their challenges so you are equipped to deal with them.
Once you know what your customer needs from you at a most basic level, think about how you can add value to that through your customer service. How can you exceed expectations? What can you do to make them go ‘wow, that was great’ and go and tell their friends/colleagues about it.
Be clear on your core values as a business and communicate these across the organisation. Keep everyone in the loop, both internally and, where relevant, externally, so they feel like an important part of the business.
Make sure you give your customer-facing staff the training they need to do a great job. Remember that your customers are individuals. Give your staff the training and empowerment to treat them as such. And, just as importantly, allow them the time to deliver customer excellence rather than encouraging them to rush on to the next call.
Gather survey feedback from customers and act on it. Learn from complaints. Listen to your customer service staff. They are the ones speaking directly to your customers and can be a mine of useful information.
Implement ways to measure customer excellence and the resulting customer loyalty. Yes, the number of customers serviced per hour might be a very important metric within your business, but delivering excellence is likely to be worth a lot more in the long run. Think about how you can measure these things and develop a continuous improvement plan to create customer loyalty and share success.
What do you think? Please share your experience.
My recent experience perfectly illustrate the value of customer excellence. Whilst I’m looking forward to taking some friends along to my new favourite Indian restaurant, I’ll be advising people to steer clear of the car dealership. And yes, that’s based on one bad experience. But that’s all it takes.
So, I am on a mission to help businesses create a culture of customer excellence and reap the rewards. Don’t let your customers settle for anything less; give me a call to find out how.