Customer Service is defined as the act in taking care of a customers needs by providing or delivering a professional, high quality service/assistance.
For me, this proposes another question – when do you stop providing customer service – Before, during or after the customers requirements are met?
Have you ever been on a course which is focused on providing ‘excellent customer service’ and the facilitator asks you to think about an experience you have received or provided the best customer service experience? Mine always takes me back to my time working in Urban Outfitters (which seems many moons ago now) – a customer had a night out and had nothing to wear – something we can all relate too. I remember being approached as I finger spaced the railing of clothes in my section and her face drained and exhausted trying to find an outfit. Cut a long story short, I took the information I needed from the customer, sat her in the changing room and chose various potential outfits for her to try on to which I was delighted she chose one. The customer didn’t have to do anything but try on the clothes and pick the outfit for her.
So why does that stand out in my mind? Well for me, customer service is about;
1) Identify with your customers, get in to their head space and understand what it is they need/want/cant have perhaps. Act on the knowledge you gain from them and what they value to the most – attention, competence and promptness.
2) Establish a human bond with them, as well as professional one. Ultimately people buy in to people. Customer Satisfaction is based on loyalty, values and relationships.
3) Provide the customer with options based on their needs and wants. Happy customers equate to profit however failure to identify the right option or product will not lead to customer loyalty and repeat business.
4) Personalisation – every customer is different so your approach and service has to be tailored to suit each one. Got that ‘extra mile’.
5) Honour your commitment and delivery on what you have promised. For me this could be simply replying to an email by X date. It instills confidence and trust in you and your business from your customers prospective.
6) Honesty – a human trait but one that defines you. Its never nice or comfortable having to advise a customer you are not going to meet the proposed deadline or you can’t supply to their exact requirements but having an open and honest communication will keep your customer happy and updated.
For me if you meet these key objectives when working with a customer, you are providing excellent customer service however going back to my earlier question – when do you stop providing customer service? Before, during or after the customers requirements are met? This has to be included in your objectives.
Customer service doesn’t stop once your customer has paid of their purchase or service, it continues on for 1/3/6/12 months plus. Never forget your after sales customer service – this is vital in any customer service agenda.