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February 23, 2010

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10 Ways to Exceed Expectations in Customer Service

Customers crave old-fashioned, friendly, and informed service over speed. And there is plenty of evidence that good customer service is positively correlated with a company's financial performance.

In a recent CRM Today survey of 2,000 consumers in the U.S and the U.K., nearly half (49%) said poor service led them to change service providers in at least one industry over the past year.

Here is my own recent Case Study of bad customer service....

I recently moved and needed to transfer my Internet service. Should be simple, right?  Then why did I dread making the phone call?  Although the Account Executive was very friendly, he was unable to make the simple service switch without the aide of a supervisor and 45 minute hold time for me. At the end of the call, he promised me all I needed to do was plug in my modem and it would all magically work. Right. (Sound familiar?)

Skeptical, I went home and plugged in the modem only to find that the magic had not happened. I sighed and uttered a naughty word as I reached to contact my ISP via phone....again. After being disconnected from the call 3 times, and with a total wait time of 23 minutes, I finally reached a "technical expert". He informed me he needed to flip a switch to "talk" to my modem and then asked me to reboot my Mac. I told him I did not want to reboot my computer as I knew it was unnecessary (being in a technical field myself). He tried to convince me otherwise. It felt like he was following a scripted checklist, instead of listening to the me. He argued further with me and only stopped when I told him my Internet access was back up.

Unfortunately, I was reminded how difficult it is to find a company with easy customer service these days!  Here at Glance, we stick to 10 principles of customer service, and have received rave reviews about how we consistently exceed expectations, which translates into loyal customers and word-of-mouth sales:

  1. Be a good listener. Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. Don't make assumptions.
  2. Identify and anticipate their needs. Customers don't buy products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to problems.
  3. Make customers feel important and appreciated. Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere.
  4. Help customers understand your technology in as simple a way as possible. Your company may have the world's best technology, but if customers don't understand it, they may get confused and impatient.
  5. Appreciate the power of "Yes". When customers have a (reasonable) request tell them that you can do it. And, always do what you say you are going to do.
  6. Know how and when to apologize. When something goes wrong, apologize. It's easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer should always feel like "they won".
  7. Give more than expected, and give the unexpected. Think of ways to elevate yourself above the competition. 
  8. Get regular feedback from your customers. Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve.
  9. Never forget that the customer pays our salary and makes your job possible.
  10. Treat staff well. Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are.

-- Jo Klos and Carla Gates

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