This article was written by Robin Noah, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor and Training Chairperson
CUSTOMER SERVICE IS A MARKETING STRATEGY. In my early years in business the “customer was king”. We did everything to please customers so they would return and/or refer us to friends and etc. What happened? Where did King Customer go? Are we so busy we are not paying attention to our income generators? When I review marketing strategy plans I look for the customer service plan. There is a lot of product and service planning but none that specifically tackles the customer service part. We need to emblazon a credo of “Bring them back alive and well and happy to see us!” While we know they need us – we need them more. So I encourage you to add customer service to your marketing check list of items to be included in marketing plans.
What’s the secret? Provide customer service that exceeds your customers' expectations and outshines your competitors' customer service. Let’s not be a YEA and it takes care of itself but a YEA and this is what we are going to do, outlining the specific actions that will place your business at the forefront of your competition and builds an army of long-term relationships.
What are some things you can do? Start by making a commitment to yourself that you will pro-actively take this challenge and work it until it becomes your company’s culture.
Then develop a tag line for your company that reflects that you do it better, that serving customers is a primary goal of your company. This becomes a commitment…just like you promise to deliver product or service at top level quality (I prefer premium service) you will also deliver and maintain the kind of service that creates loyalty, trust, repeat business and referrals.
Let the folks who provide the service in on your secret – your new business model - where the Customer is a critical consideration for a successful marketing plan. Marketing is not always about buying and selling – it is about building customer relationships that ultimately lead to better business. You need to Rise to the Exceptional.
Then get everybody involved in getting committed to your goal of “Rising to the Exceptional”
Go to it. Ask for recommendations: The people who are closest to the customer always have good ideas on what needs to change. List what you now do for Customers and check off the things that are routine and the ones that are “special”. Start making recommendations for making the routine rise to exceptional. Develop your strategy. Sometimes rising to the exceptional involves revamping what you’ve always done.
- Collectively write up the plan.
- Promise only what you can deliver.
- Share with all persons involved.
- Implement your plan.
Be creative. Get to personally know your customers and recognize their individual needs. Above all, make certain that what you are offering really is something that your customer can value; that's the key to good customer service.
Not only will your customers notice – your employees will feel a lot better when they are focusing on the customer. Even a return of product or complaint of on error can be an opportunity to show off your exceptional customer service.
You may want to do a brief customer response feedback .Not only will you get input from the customers, it will also signal that you are truly interested in your customers and are serious about service excellence.