Enlightening Insights on How to Provide Excellent Customer Service

Providing better customer service by listening to complaints & feedback

by Rod Dunne on November 28, 2011

in Human Side

For many valid reasons, commercial operators of all sizes, types, and structures are becoming increasingly concerned about how to provide excellent customer service. Whether or not entrepreneurs and corporate executives realize or like to admit it, service is really all you have to offer so having excellent customer service skills is essential.

A consistently high level of quality and competent delivery of customer service is your ultimate determinant of long-term business success.

Considering its universal constancy as the primary offering of every commercial entity, the power that your customer service department holds to make or break an entire business comes as no surprise.

An unavoidable fact of life is that great customer service conquers many obstacles and traverses many barriers that you would otherwise think insurmountable. By contrast, bad customer service negates all of your most effective marketing campaigns and superior product and service offerings.

The key is to always be improving your service and asking customer satisfaction survey questions as part of your ongoing marketing plan to find out new innovative ways of improving your offering.

What is good customer service in the traditional sense?

The accurate response to the above query about what constitutes “good customer service” may be condensed into to a small number of operative ideas. From these relatively few notions emerge a handful of relatively nebulous – but highly relevant – general concepts.

This in itself should seem quite obvious. However, in large companies with a complex product offering you may need to resort to research to establish the voice of the customer, i.e. gain greater insights into their needs and wants. In most cases however a quick survey (online or off-line) of some of your regular customers to find out their pet peeves about your service should highlight some good customer service tips you can act upon.

Courteous human contacts

Customers invariably appreciate prompt, efficient handling of all business transactions. They also value accurate advice and competent assistance with any difficulties or crises they may encounter in connection with using a product or service.

Nonetheless, no one likes to be treated as just another number. Nor do most people relish the thought of dealing with cold, aloof personnel who exhibit attitudes of gross indifference toward individualized needs and desires.

After all, consumers are ordinary human beings – as are business owners. Most folks do not enjoy feeling as though no one cares about their problems or who they are as a person.

Even the world’s largest commercial conglomerates conduct business by and through human staff. Such personnel and corporate representatives are really just plain, ordinary people. As such, they have experience the same emotions and have feelings identical to those of individual end users.

In recognition of this reality, commercial concerns have recently taken affirmative action to address this uniquitous, universal reality of human requirements for a personal touch. Such steps include:

  • Less formal prospect address by first names
  • Personalized mementos (business souvenirs and various memorabilia like cups, hats, sun visors, and ink pens that display business names alongside its customers)
  • Mention of personal references within written and verbal communications (i.e., birthdays, family additions, etc.)
  • Greater community outreach efforts (like educational endowments and extending specific social services within areas where critical shortages exist)

Does outsourcing customer service cause problems?

In this writer’s view, the above question actually has two accurate answers: “yes” and “no.” Either response may be valid, depending on the specific degree of difficulty and circumstantial totality involved in your business.

While  outsourcing your customer support services certainly solves many stubborn commercial dilemmas, it can also create an equal number of formidable hurdles.

As an aside, using online customer service software has made outsourcing this work all the more easy. It no longer matters where service reps are stationed as managers and team leaders can track and review numerous representatives online using these handy tools.

Quite often, retaining a third-party customer service management provider can especially benefit owners of smaller businesses. You’ll find that having access to vastly increased leveraging power and human resource bases comprise the main advantages that outsourcing customer service offers in such instances.

On the other hand, de-personalization and insensitivity to your customer needs is a constant inherent danger of such arrangements. After all, nobody knows, or could possibly care about, your customers like you can. Nor is the same inherent level of self-interest as strong among outside customer service vendors.

Good customer service tips that work no matter what

Regardless of the specific format or media an organization may use for customer service operations, some fundamental aspects are mandatory for maximizing customer service. Among these are:

  • Accurate advice – Be able to backup your advice with data, reviews, testimonials, etc.
  • Prompt assistance – Nobody likes to be kept waiting on the phone.
  • Courtesy – Good manners cost nothing and increase the chances of good word-of-mouth. Perception is everything!
  • Active listening – Don’t rely on scripted messages when supporting customers. A bespoke service which attempts to get to the root of the customers needs or problems pays off with better loyalty.
  • Patience – Don’t forget that finding it difficult to express what their problems are so be patient.
  • Adequate product/service knowledge and familiarity – Great customer service combines prompt support with understanding the  of range of options you can provide to customers. This requires a depth of knowledge of the products and services in the first place.
I have written previously about a variety of customer service quotes which can come in handy for identifying areas of improvement in your own business. Many of these quotes highlight some of the best practices used by successful businesses around the world.

The key to providing excellent customer service through your online support systems

Virtual realms have enabled vastly enhanced time and cost efficiency for the design and delivery of an effective customer experience strategy. Even commercial entities without an online presence can benefit from the immense capabilities of the Internet.

For instance, the ability to distribute and administer your own online customer satisfaction surveys to patrons of stick-and-brick establishments facilitates more accuracy and candid replies from respondents.

Round-the-clock access to your essential support services, instantaneous response capability, and immediate procurement of products or services whenever and wherever one desires are other definite benefits of web-based customer support outsourcing.

Likewise, much higher brand loyalty and customer satisfaction is made possible for your customers with the invention of social media networks, electronic newsletters, virtual assistants, and real-time live chat availability 24 hours per day.

Summary: Observations on how to provide excellent customer service

Wise application of, and rigorous adherence to, the above strategies makes the solution to the timeless question of how to provide excellent customer service aptly apparent and easy to execute.

The optimal formula for you to succeed in this essential endeavor entails maximizing the effectiveness of innovative techniques while utilizing techniques with time-proven track records of successful results.

Always remember that your ultimate goal is to enhance and improve upon an existing idea; not negate known positive effects with uncertain “qualities.”

Author Rod Dunne...

Blog owner and sole writer Rod DunneI am the owner and sole writer on Product-ivity.com. This is my personal blog detailing troubleshooting tips for small businesses. Posts are based upon 2 decades in consultancy & innovation management within startups/maturing companies.

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