Creating Five-Star Customer Service
By John Hlavac
Every customer moment does count. Incredible customer service is a two-way street. Your customers want and need you as much as you want and need them. Get the facts! Learn what solution is truly critical for each customer and confirm that you can deliver the specific solution that meets their immediate needs.
There are many ways to capture this information. Most information can usually be identified with internet research, surveys and effective customer interaction. Here are several key factors which may help you determine the scope of your particular customer situation:
- Poll or capture opinions, benchmarks or statistics to ascertain industry strength, community involvement and interest, demographic or geographic scope and other similar factors.
- Investigate local, regional, national or international possibilities and probabilities.
- Research, promote and provide awareness regarding your products and services.
- Clarify customer needs, desires, expectations, habits, internal processes (such as purchasing requirements) or other business factors for tactical and strategic planning and development.
- Validate the quality of people, products or services or other business intelligence needed to strengthen your staffing, systems, manufacturing or process improvement decisions.
- Create interest in your company or products while simultaneously validating contact information, updating databases or providing registration services for specific events
- Verify and solidify customer relationships, customer satisfaction and loyalty.
An Ideal Win-Win Strategy
Here is a personal case study demonstrating how outstanding customer service can positively affect everyone involved.
The Situation: A solution provider I worked with very closely had been receiving mediocre performance marks from customers for service until they finally decided enough was enough. They did their homework, identified the important needs and took action.
The Solution: The solution provider reassessed the customer needs and desires, revamped and retooled their systems and processes to address those situations, retrained and certified their staff, improved on-going communication with their customers and suppliers, started regularly monitoring their progress and implemented consistent informal customer follow-ups.
The Results: This solution provider started to receive outstanding overall customer ratings for their service, often with the highest score possible (5-stars), turned their service around and earned the distinction as a top tier solution provider in their particular market.
Solution Provider Benefits: The solution provider improved their team and internal processes, strengthened their reputation in the industry while simultaneously reducing costs previously associated with their mediocre service levels. The results of their efforts also provided their internal sales and marketing team with incredible messages to help close the deal when prospecting new accounts, and at renewal time with existing customers.
Customer Benefits: The solution provider shared their results with their customer base and started to immediately receive significantly more usable information and operational feedback from their customers (…and suppliers). Customers explained how proud they were for selecting this solution provider as their ally in business, many voluntarily become references, openly expressed being more comfortable with their current fees (because of the quality of service they now received) and often purchased additional product and service offerings from this solution provider.
Supplier Benefits: The solution provider took these positive results a step further to share, recognize and reward specific suppliers who helped them create many of the needed changes. The solution provider then offered to be a reference for their key suppliers to help these organizations earn additional business in their own market.
Employee Benefits: The best benefits of all occurred almost unexpectedly when customers started sending personal thank you notes or other tokens of appreciation (like flowers) to recognize the effort of individual contributors. These types of customer responses improved employee confidence and morale, supported raises and promotions, drove individual and team bonuses, and profit.
You can do this too! You’ll be better prepared to provide exceptional customer service when you listen carefully to the needs, desires and preferences of everyone involved, take deliberate and inspired action and prepare to reap incredible results. Ideal customer service often produces unbelievably positive results for you, your customer, your suppliers and your employees. All can benefit!
John Hlavac is a resident expert at The ASCII Group which provides coaching and consulting to its MSP/VAR Community. Hlavac has spent over 25 years as a sales and service executive and advocate in the high-tech community and is currently the president of JLH & Associates LLC, a coaching, consulting and training company aimed at helping IT providers and other sales and service executives grow their businesses by refining, implementing and delivering effective and efficient management activities to solidify sales and service.