General Business Blogs
Defining Customer Service
Dr. Paul J. Pavlik, August 15, 2020
Stop worrying about the economy. Start thinking more about what you need to do to lead your business to a more successful outcome.
What do you need to consider in planning for your business to meet or exceed its goals? Let’s assume we agree that the four variables that can make or break the success of your business are: (1) customer service, (2) innovation, (3) your people, and (4) leadership. These four variables must be able to sense changes in the business climate and then be able to dynamically and quickly react to those changes, not via great leaps of faith or superior intelligence, but by constant contact with and reaction to customer relations on the part of every person in your organization. And understand that the customers, in their minds, have one thing that stands above all else to them: Customer Service. Therefore, successful organizations, no matter what products and/or services they provide, should have one common central focus: Customers.
Most Service is Awful
I think you will agree that service is rotten almost everywhere. My personal contacts with vendors demonstrate this at least once every day. Many business representatives don’t seem to care, and this comes from the top down; it’s common for customers to experience frowns instead of smiles and rudeness instead of politeness. If you agree, then the world is ripe for a “customer service revolution.
We Accept Poor Service as the Norm
Then, taking the poor service concept further, why in the world do you and I accept poor service as the norm? And worse, why do we keep going back for more? It’s as if we like being abused. We encounter defective products, cold food in restaurants, dirty public washrooms, late deliveries, repeated product returns because of poor parts or poor assembly, lost orders, lazy staff, late appointments, poor presentation quality in seminars we have paid dearly for, etc., etc., etc.
I guess the diagnostic terminology could be that we are satisfiably numb, because our expectations are so low and because it is so difficult to find a vendor who does better customer servicing.
What are these less-than-ideal vendors telling their customers? Maybe, their customer service slogan should be that they are “no worse than the competition.” Now consider, does your business send this same message?
Consider this imaginary discussion between a business owner and one of his/her customer service representatives:
- Owner: “What is one of the toughest things we have to do in this business?”
- Customer Service Rep: “Listening to customers.”
- Owner: “You’re right. Those customers just don’t understand what we’re trying to tell them is best for them.”
- Customer Service Rep: “Yeah. That’s why the listening part is so darned hard.”
What is wrong with this dialogue? (Anyone, and I mean anyone, should be blinded by the obvious.) Who should be doing the listening here, the business owner and his team or the customer? This answer should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the obvious must not be as obvious as one would assume. If it were, more businesses would start listening to customers instead of listening to themselves and then dictating what they think is best for the customers.
What is the definition of Customer Service? Here are a few definitions of “customer service” you may want to ponder:
- Customer service is the direct one-on-one interaction between a consumer making a purchase and a representative of the company that is selling it.
- Customer service is the support you offer your customers, both before and after they buy and use your products or services, that helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you.
- Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during, and after a purchase.
- Customer service means to spend time with, meet the needs of, and satisfy a customer.
- Customer service Is one of the most important departments in a corporation that guards and ensures company’s well-being through processes like lead conversion, customer retention, brand loyalty, and customer satisfaction.
Once you realize that customer service should be a core part of your organization, the obvious next step is to make that customer service you provide not average but to take it up a notch (or several notches depending on how successful you want to be). There are ways to create and sustain better customer service over time. Simply put, take exceptional care of your customers. Caring does not require the IQ of a genius or a degree from the Harvard or Wharton Business Schools. It is, however, built on the foundation of LISTENING, TRUST, and RESPECT – you should apply these attributes to both your customers (and every employee in your organization if you want them to pass those traits forward to your customers).
You must demand innovation from your entire team from your receptionists, through your assembly line workers, and all the way up to your managers and you. Turn these people into super-sensitive detecting instruments for observing what customers really want and what new methods might be instituted or developed to achieve the customers’ desires.
Creating Happy Customers
Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. After all, you have no rights to ownership of those customers; they will be glad to move on when they find someone better. If you really want to “own” a customer, you have to go beyond simply “satisfying” them: you must create outrageously happy clients. The question is not, “How can I afford to give great service?” The question should and must be, “How can I afford not to give great service?”
What Can You Do About It?
If you want to destroy your competition, get serious about creating outrageously great service. Examples might include: being on time for appointments, apologizing sincerely for anything the customer might feel is lacking, dressing and acting the part, saying “thank you”, going the extra mile, and answering the phone in a way that shows interest, not boredom.
First, however, I want every one of you to consider one thing: how do you like to be treated and served? Give this some serious thought. Use the exercise of dividing a page into two columns with one column representing what you, as a customer, don’t like, and one column representing what really turns you on when someone has served you well.
Next, take a look at how well you think your business rates with the customers you serve. Do the same exercise, but now pretend you are the customers of your business. Don’t lie or pretend to yourself; instead, be honest with yourself.
Another great way to show how much you care is to call clients after you provide a service to them. Each and every day, have your customer service staff make a list of names with phone numbers of all customers that they communicated with regarding any issue, no matter how minor. At the end of the day or beginning of the next day, have them call every person on that list and speak to that individual. Ask if they are doing okay and if they have any further questions. Each phone call should last less than three minutes, but the results will be phenomenal. Not only will clients be ecstatic that the “busy rep” took time out of his/her schedule to call, but they will tell their peers, colleagues and business associates about your team’s outrageous caring. What a business builder. It doesn’t matter what type of service or product you provide, you can adapt this exercise to your business. Think about which of your customers require a little extra care and call them. This is one habit that will really pay off.
If you want to take one additional, but very important, step, ask your customers, through a simple survey, what they like about your service and what they don’t like about it. Don’t ignore the negative responses. Remember, ignorance can badly hurt your business, but avoidance can kill it.
Now, what are you going to do about it? Remember, any journey starts with the first step. Do some one thing, TODAY, that sets you apart from the everyday, hum-drum service we all have accustomed ourselves to and accepted. Then, let’s see what happens when you initiate a revolution in the customer service industry.
Get a jump on your competition by taking ownership of the following philosophy: DO WHATEVER IT TAKES to make your clients and your team of employees aware of your commitment to their current needs and their future wishes.
-  Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/customer-service.asp
-  Salesforce. 2020. https://www.salesforce.com/products/service-cloud/what-is-customer-service/
-  Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer_service
-  American Heritage Dictionary. https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=american+heritage+dictionary+online&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
-  Pietruszewska, Maria. Tidio. March 6, 2020. https://www.tidio.com/blog/customer-service-definition/
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