Whether you are a B2B or a B2C organization, one thing you already know is that you need to provide quality customer service in order to be successful.
Chances are, your mission statement or company vision includes something about customer service. You may even have customer service-related quotes around the office. But how often, if ever, do you take a step back and evaluate whether or not you are actually providing good customer service?
I’m not talking about damage control when you receive a customer complaint. I’m not even talking about a root cause analysis for that same complaint. I’m talking about a soul searching, top-to-bottom, resource-demanding review of how customer service is defined by your organization and whether or not you are actually accomplishing it.
If you’re interested in that sort of self-evaluation, and you should be, here are five important questions to help determine if you’re doing customer service right.
1. What is good customer service for my organization?
Companies that provide quality customer service do so by establishing trust with their customers, communicating sufficiently and timely while also listening, and delivering high-quality service or products.
However, I would encourage you, when determining if your company provides good customer service, to consider what should be an obvious metric: how often you generate business from referrals. If referrals don’t make up a significant portion of your business, find out why. Successful customer service creates life-long customers who share their wonderful experiences with others.
2. Is your organization listening?
One thing is for sure. Whether you are listening or not, your customers are talking. And I don’t mean with their wallets though that is certainly one way they might be talking, or not talking as the case may be. They’re also talking through social media, online reviews and to their family and friends.
Are you listening to what your customers are saying online? Managing your online reputation is an important part of customer service. Gone are the times where customer service happened only inside of your business. Make sure that you have social media accounts managed by your team and respond to your customers there. Which takes me to my next question…
3. No, really. Are you listening?
Listening requires participation. If you’re not actively communicating with your clients, you’re not listening. A recent post on Duct Tape Marketing discussed the 5 levels of listening with the top level being empathic listening. While you might not be engaged in a verbal conversation with your clients, though I recommend it as often as possible, you should still approach any feedback that comes from your clients with the same empathy that you would hopefully show in a conversation.
As an extension of this, if you’re really listening to your customers, what are you doing with the information? A typical business hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers. That’s a small sample of the actual number of dissatisfied customers.
Therefore, it’s critical that not only do you pay attention to what they are saying but that you make business decisions intended to remedy the problem. I’m talking real solutions; not band aids.
4. Does your customer service scale?
As small business owners and marketers, we have the upper hand when it comes to customer service. Our small size allows us to personally interact with our customers. Even if your business is large enough to have someone that handles your customers, they likely do so directly instead of through a customer service-killing IVR or via an unmonitored inbox.
Definitely, capitalize on your small size and be as customer-friendly as possible. However, I’m betting that you don’t see yourself as a small business owner forever. Your short term plan and long term plans include growth. So how do you scale your customer service for growth?
Don’t forget what made you successful in the first place. Adopt a big business philosophy in all aspects of your business with the exception of customer service. Maintain your current small business approach to customer service and if you’re doing it correctly now, you will do it correctly in the future. Then, align departmental goals around the philosophy and hold them responsible for it.
5. Are your competitors providing superior customer service?
Oftentimes, customer service can be what differentiates you from your competitors and that’s not a good thing if you’re providing poor customer service. Play it safe and assume that they are doing a great job of providing customer service and you need to increase your effort.
Did you know that your customers are likely willing to pay more for quality customer service? I’m not suggesting that you charge more; I’m recommending that you pay attention to the importance your customer’s place on being treated right.
It should go without saying that you don’t provide first-rate customer service because you want to be better than your competitor. You do it because it’s embedded into who your company is at all levels of the organization. If that’s not who your company is then that’s a good place to start making changes.
About the Author
Itamar Gero is the founder and CEO of SEOReseller.com, a white-label digital marketing solutions provider that empowers agencies—and their local business clientele—all over the world. When he isn’t working, he’s traveling the world, meditating, or dreaming (in code).