Use these customer service tips to improve customer satisfaction. An understanding of the definition of customer service and what it means to deliver good customer care is necessary for all businesses.
What is good customer service and why is it important for your business success?
Build strong customer service strategies with customer service tips that are designed to reduce or eliminate the most common service issues.
Customers are NOT the problem; typically our business processes are the problem.
But we tend to treat customers like they are the problem.
Be proactive about developing good customer care strategies. If appropriate, use these customer service tips to improve your service and to be proactive about eliminating issues and problems. If not appropriate (i.e. if they don't fit your business), build your own with input from customer service surveys and feedback.
Develop a customer service program that is focused on delivering good customer care and build it into your strategic plan.
For example, if a customer wants to place an order with no notice, or short notice, why do so many businesses get angry or frustrated about that? Or if customers expect customer service quotes to be turned around in very short time frames, why do we get frustrated about that?
It is very likely that the customer isn't deliberately trying to tick you off; he or she is placing the order (or needs a quote quickly) at the last minute because that's when they've discovered a need (it might be that their customer has just placed the order).
Use these common problem examples (in a business to business selling and service environment) to develop your own customer service action plan.
Providing exceptional customer service means streamlining the service process; continuous improvement of your service parameters and programs is a key strategy.
The order is delivered late in the plant, but the same delivery is required/expected. This results in internal reschedule, other customers might be affected.
Action: Consider charging the additional costs. This is not a punishment, this is a recovery of real costs.
Job specifications change at the last moment. This results in the job having to be run on different equipment (which increases cost).
Action: Need to reprice and adjust the schedule.
Special order items (outsourced) are required for a late incoming order.
Action: Put a rush on materials needed for the job. If extra costs incurred, pass them on.
Cancellation with no notice - downtime (machines and people); missed efficiencies.
Action: Communicate that the order was scheduled with others, by canceling there is an efficiency cost and a lost opportunity cost for the orders that you turned away. Advise the customer that next time there will be a cost for no notice cancellations.
Define customer service quotes turnaround times (when your customers can expect a quote or estimate). For example, 4 hours unless extraordinary circumstances. Learn to define required time; that is, ask for a specific date or time and don't accept ASAP.
When customers phone in and ask for a quote, ask when they need it. Many will answer "as soon as possible"; don't accept that, ask the customer to define the specific required time, e.g. in 6 hours, or next day, or whatever the expectation is in your industry.
A 'live' job should have priority over a job that your customer is bidding on. You could say to your customer:
How fast do you need it?
Just checking the Production schedule and need to know when you might want to run this order.
When is the sales or the customer meeting?
To buy time to do the quote, say... "for the best price I'd really like to take a little more time to check out a couple of other options..."
Don't say that you're backed up or busy and that you can't get to the quote till later; that tells the customer that you're thinking about you, not about the customer - say we can do a better job preparing the quote if we have a bit more time to do it.
Set up realistic turn-around expectations.
Create a 'cheat sheet' or excel spreadsheet to do quick calculations or quick estimates; this works with preferred practices.
You may be able to create an excel price list for your customer to fill in and complete for basic prices; you need to brand it with your name and your customer's name and make sure it works (test it for a number of different variables) and then encourage them to use it.
The result will be faster turn-around for them, and less quoting work for you.)
Develop a specifications sheet for each type of service; for common pitfalls by service; and attach to the confirmation. In your software system link the common pitfalls to the services description (that is, automate it).
In your business operations plan, develop a process and strategy for handling unannounced jobs. Find ways to fit them in! And welcome them in!
Follow up on sold and booked jobs: Is the job on schedule? Are there any known changes?
Follow up on customer service quotes: the customer service representative should use this as an opportunity to get information (won/lost: if won, when will the order be placed; if lost, reasons why).
Order/schedule acknowledgment. If you don't have an order and schedule confirmation, develop one. You can do one in excel, in word, or through your custom system.
Use disclaimers (have your lawyer help you with these), e.g. scheduling equipment and resources based on the booked order...every reasonable effort will be made to deliver your order as promised...
If your customer is late with the order and still needs it as originally requested, look at the impact on customers, equipment, human resources and costs.
Is the customer willing to pay for the additional costs (e.g. of a partial order, of moving someone else's order off, their order on, and the other order back on to machinery)? Many times we just say no, we can't handle the time demands, but if you have strong customer service skills you can demonstrate them by looking for options.
Conduct customer service surveys on a regular basis. Ask your customers to help you improve your customer service skills and deliver good customer care.
The definition of customer service is the service that is provided before, during and after a sale.
Customers keep your business operating; without customers you will not have a business.
Use these customer service tips to develop and build your own customer service program and deliver outstanding service.
Return to Good Customer Service.
Focus your customer service efforts on the highest value activities; these are the actions that will provide your business with the best return on your investment of resources.
Review your sales by customer at the product or service level (by type). Then analyze your direct and full costs by product or service.
Your goal in gathering, and then analyzing, the numbers is to compare the costs by products and services and then by customers; you want to know which products and services are the lowest cost and which customers provide your business with the best value.
This will help you focus your business resources to provide the most service and support to high value customers.
What's the gross profit margin by customer? Rank your customers not only by total sales but by profitability; and by sales by product or service.
If you have specific products or services that you know are more profitable than others you will want to focus your attention on the customers buying those more profitable items and/or you will want to encourage customers to buy more of the profitable product or service lines.
Note: A number of accounting software systems provide the capability to run these reports quickly and easily.
Providing customer service that consistently delights (rather than just satisfies) results in long term customers.
Your business' commitment to exceptional quality; the reliability and consistency of your service (your customers like to know that they can expect the same product or service, and the same level of support, on each and every order); and highly trained and knowledgeable staff are all key attributes to developing successful relationships with your customers.
Focus your business on more than satisfying customers; make delight a number one goal.