30 Aug 5 powerful strategies that deliver Excellent Customer Service.
We all talk about Customer Service, its something we expect when we visit a restaurant, a hotel or a store somewhere. Many times when we speak to clients, they will immediately tell us that they believe that their business offers great service. Disappointingly many do not understand what Excellent or even Good is when it comes to Customer Service.
Customer service is “the assistance provided by a company to its customers relating to its products or services”
How this service is delivered has a huge impact on the reputation of the organisation in the public arena, when your reputation is at stake, surely it is important for you to pay more attention to this aspect of your business, right? Also, for the additional effort that you will need to exert, why would you not want to deliver something better than good, why not aim for excellent? Being excellent is a sure fire way of setting yourself above your potential rivals and remaining memorable within the minds of your customers.
Lets explore how you can go about getting to this level. Let’s share another definition first, ‘Delivering Excellence’ could be defined as;
Going above and beyond the usual call of duty to make an event positively memorable even if it is to remedy a situation
If you really want to be known for Excellence, then here are some key components that you should bring into your organisational strategy;
- Define Excellence – Set the Standards
It is important to map out exactly what “outstanding” or “extremely good” looks like, feels like and sounds like and map out where your organisation’s current standards and practices of customer service delivery sit along that spectrum. Now you may be thinking, that sounds easy, but it is often the attention to detail that will get you to that level of “Excellence”. Lets look at the world famous Luxury Hotel brand ‘The Ritz-Carlton’.
In order set the standard, they have set approx. three thousand brand standards across its hotels globally. Each department has a set of standards applicable to them and it is the responsibility of each member of staff within each department to know the standards which apply to them. Some of the standards allow staff to perform their tasks with ease and consistency; for example reception staff must answer the phone “within three rings”. Others are brand standards, for example “elegance” which is not only embodied within the décor but also through staff etiquette.
Action; Your organisation does not need to have three thousand standards in place; but do you have a written Standards of Guidelines rule-book that your staff can reference? Is it something that is reviewed and updated regularly? Are all staff trained in it and also measured against it?
- Fill in the Gaps
Remember that customer service delivery is an end-to-end process, it is not just the job of the sales team, but it starts with the doorman and carries on through to the after-sales support service. You want to ensure that there are no gaps or loopholes that will lead to your customers feeling disappointed.
At London’s iconic Claridges, the management team will walk around the hotel checking for even the tiniest detail which is out of place in keeping with the hotel’s look, feel and atmosphere. The objective is to ‘create at least one memory that will turn into another visit’. “ (Thomas Kochs, Claridges General Manager).
Action; Review your end-to-end Customer Journey and this means involving stakeholders from all departments. This will ensure that all potential gaps / weaknesses in the current practices are identified and developed into value-added activities.
- Buy-in to your Vision
Excellence is not just a solitary action; it is a series of consistent correct actions performed daily. It is not just a theory, but a genuine desire to be better than just normal, to be Excellent. This is something that every member of your team needs to buy-in to. No change is easy to implement without the buy-in and support of your workforce. If they have no appreciation for the purpose and vision of the organisation then they will not be able to properly or completely execute your vision.
Action; Build a team that believes in your Vision and your Standards, make a strong chain. Ensure there are no weak links that will cause the chain to break. Ensure you keep them involved in the process, “People support what they help to create” (Margaret Wheatley).
- Learn from your Customers
Without Customers, you do not have a business, so do not be afraid to ask for customer feedback. Learn from everything your organisation did well, did not do well, the why’s and the how’s.
Customers are not simply those who purchase your products and services, your staff members are your internal customers. They are the ones who perform their roles on a daily basis and can identify much more easily where gaps lie and where the opportunities for improvements lie. Importantly, this should be an open process for improvement for the organisation, hence having the right environment and team is important to support this activity.
“For me, one of the most important ways in which we create a strong sense of wellbeing is through a culture of openness and communication ….. I like to spend as much time as possible on the floor, interacting with fellow colleagues and of course guests .…The bottom line is that keeping staff motivated to keep Claridge’s at the top of the industry is an everyday effort.” (Philippe Leboeuf, Claridge’s General Manager)
Action; Put into place a Customer Service feedback process, measure a good sample of your customers and create a series of KPIs or metrics that you use to compare performance. Measure your staff against it, reward excellent performance and where there are weaknesses, put development plans into place.
- Learn from your Competitors
As you can learn from your customers, you should analyse and review what your competitors are doing. It is not just a question of being ahead of your competition, it’s about being the best at what you do, so this exercise is not about competing against them, but reviewing what the rest of the market is doing, where there are innovations that can teach you something.
Many organisations work to do what their competitors do not do, to outsmart their competitors and stay a step ahead of them. Whilst it is an important factor to ensure your organisation remains ahead within its industry, improvements and transformation initially comes from within – before you look to your competitors, it may be that your competitors have already identified your organisation’s weaknesses and are making their next move.
When the idea for first telephone banking solution was positioned, some thought it was crazy; why would customers want to do their banking over the phone in the evening? This idea was all about giving the customer something they needed, but others had not thought of yet.
More recently, whilst the mainstream banks and building societies have been closing down branches and restructuring current telephony services by taking operations overseas or online, Metro Bank went back to the “old ways” and opened new branches alongside telephony and online services. Additionally, they went the extra mile and implemented those services which currently amongst the mainstream banks, still take many a working day;
- Lost your bank card? pop into any one of the local Metro Bank branches and they will issue you with a new card
- Opening a new account? take a seat with a cup of tea, and leave with your new account ready to use with bank card in hand
- Want to bank on a Sunday? No problem, we offer Sunday opening hours
In its first 3 months, Metro bank brought in more than £1bn, how, you may ask? Having reviewed the marketplace, they realised that Customer Service was not limited to what the competition was doing, but by what the customer wanted and needed.
Action; Draw a graph of your competitors, position them based on 2 specific dimensions, (maybe Price and Quality of Service). Now put yourself in the graph as well and understand where your competitors are and where are the opportunities for you.
Customer First is a module within our Business Basics First (BBF) Programme, for more information on how your organisation can benefit from BBF, contact us today at Info@NAConsulting.co.uk