May 03, 2013

Old-Fashioned Customer Service: It’s Not as Far Away as You Think

Have you ever heard a colleague, family member, or friend complain about poor customer service? Whether it’s a sales clerk at the mall or a support technician over the phone, we don’t often hear positive stories about people going the extra mile to help resolve customer issues.

Maybe the customer service representative hasn’t been properly trained. Or perhaps the company’s executives aren’t in touch with what’s really going on in their customer service department. Either way, the result is that the failure to provide professional and courteous service drives customers away. Some companies, however, get it right, going above and beyond to help their customers. Not only is this the right thing to do, it also increases revenue and customer loyalty. The bottom line is that satisfying customers ultimately benefit the business, so companies should be paying more attention to providing superior customer service.

So, how does a company provide better customer service? Many companies are using their net promoter score (NPS) to gauge customer loyalty. An NPS survey should ask one simple question: Would you recommend this company to a friend and/or colleague?

The Importance of the Net Promoter Score

A one-question survey may seem like a novel approach, but this one question really puts the focus on an age-old method for deciding which companies to do business with: word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know and trust. Moreover, in addition to getting right down to the point (i.e., whether a person thinks highly enough of a company to recommend it to others), customers are more likely to respond to a one-question survey.

By responding to that one question, customers can be organized into three categories: promoters, detractors, or passives. For our current purposes, we want to focus on promoters, those customers who would definitely recommend a company to a friend or colleague.

While the NPS  is certainly not the only way to measure customer loyalty, it does provide a glimpse into how customers view a company. Most companies who earn a high NPS have these three traits in common:

  • They follow a customer-centric philosophy, going out of their way to provide value through high-quality solutions and services.

  • They fill their customer support positions with in-house resources, typically long-tenured product experts.

  • They make product experts available to customers when they call for assistance, so issues can be resolved more efficiently.

There are many benefits of a high NPS rating, for both highly rated companies and their customers. Here are just a few of them:

  • Customers feel their needs are being either met or exceeded, which leads to an increase in customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Companies build a base of repeat customers who not only continue to buy from those companies but also recommend them to their coworkers and colleagues.

  • Customers gain quick, consistent access to product experts. No one wants to call into a support desk only to realize they know more about a product than the person who answered the phone.

There are benefits to be gained from looking into your competitors’ and vendors’ net promoter scores, too. If, for example, your competitor has a high NPS, you may learn something interesting about a competitor’s best practices that your company can implement to boost its own NPS. At the same time, low scores can provide a lesson in what not to do.

Invest in Customer Service, See the Results

In analyzing a range of net promoter scores, it’s clear that organizations shouldn’t be limiting their support activities. Instead, they need to be investing the time and money in ensuring that everyone is focused on delivering a high degree of customer service. If you invest in customer service, customers will keep coming back, and this will have a long-term effect on your business.

But why stop with the customer service department? Certainly every organization needs to have a group tasked with supporting customers, but customers typically interact with more than one resource, team, or group within an organization. It makes sense to ensure that every touchpoint is a positive experience. It’s vitally important to personalize the relationship with customers and also to follow through on commitments. Personalization and follow-through help build a mutually beneficial relationship between an organization and its customers, since customers can trust that when they call, they’ll receive a quality support experience from beginning to end.

What Do Companies Want Customers to Say About Them?

We all want praise from our customers, but what do we actually want them to say? Do we want them to tell others about our quick response times? What about the fact that we resolve every customer issue? Clearly, the more positive reviews we receive, the better. We want our customers to say things like, “It amazes me how fast customer services answers all of my questions. There’s no other company with this type of service!” or, “Our experience with customer service has been very positive. Compared to the other support centers we’ve worked with, your organization provides the fastest resolutions.”

This can happen, and sooner than most companies think. It really is as simple as making the customer the entire company’s number-one focus. When employees start their day with their customers in mind, it affects every interaction they have with customers during the day. Whether it’s resolving an issue or coming up with a great new service, go the extra mile, and don’t stop until your customers are satisfied.

Every great strategy has to start somewhere. By adopting some of these tips and focusing on their net promoter scores, companies can get back to old-fashioned service ideals we all remember and appreciate.

About The Contributor:
Extreme Marketing Team

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