At a recent training on customer service, the presenter shared with the group a very eye-opening statistic when it comes to views on the delivery of customer service. The presenter referred to a study conducted by Bain & Company that says, “80% of companies believe they are delivering a superior experience to their customers, but only 8% of customers said that companies were really delivering.” I don’t know about you, but that definitely set off some red flags in my head and shows just how much of a delivery gap we have in customer service.
The question then becomes: How can we close the gap between what customers expect and their perception of what they get? Here is a road map out of the gap that will not only help you close the expectation/perception gap, but will also help you begin to exceed your customers’ expectations.
1. Be affable. Greet customers with a smile and hold it until they smile back. Not seeing your customer in person? A smile can be heard in your voice, so smile when talking on the phone. Also make sure you are being friendly and pleasant to interact with.
2. Master the art of accessibility. Be available at the time and place your customers need help. Keep turnaround time on emails and phone calls to a minimum. If you don’t have an immediate answer, let customers know you’ll get back to them soon.
3. Under-promise and over-deliver. Does your company consistently do what it promises for customers? What exactly are those promises and what is required to fulfill those them? Make sure you set clear expectations, let everyone in the organization know what those expectations are, and follow through on any promises.
4. Surprise them with the unexpected. Ken Blanchard, author of “How to Win Raving Fan Customers” says “deliver your service, plus one percent.” Find little ways to provide unexpected extras that will give your customers something to rave about. Surprise your customers by asking meaningful questions that uncover their needs.
5. Attend to the little things. Pay attention to the little things like using a customer’s name, greeting them as they enter the building, having clean facilities, and posting customer notices that don’t talk down to people.
6. Strive to say “yes.” When you’re inclined to say “no,” first ask yourself, “If it is not illegal, unethical, immoral or violate any regulations, why can’t I say ‘yes?’” Under circumstances when you’re not able to provide the resolution the customer wants, offer options to help the customer feel in control. For example, “We can’t do that but what we can do for you is….”
7. Practice the platinum rule. Provide a consistent customer service experience in a way that recognizes the individuality of your customers. Some will want every detail; others want just the bottom line information. One may want to see a variety of choices; another may want you to make a recommendation. Ask them how they want to be treated.
8. Express appreciation. Find ways to show your appreciation and thank them for their loyalty, their business and their trust. Let them know their questions and inquiries are important to you.
Remember, great customer service is not an accident. It takes commitment to deliver the kind of experience your customer’s expect. If you begin with these key ingredients you will find that you have not only happy, satisfied customers, but customers who are excited about the way you treat them and share their experience with the world.
As an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Trainer with The Village Business Institute, Dawn Kaiser lives her passion–to energize, encourage and equip others to live their strongest lives now. She is a motivational speaker, writer, teacher, and positive-thinker extraordinaire. She draws on more than 12 years of experience in the Human Resource/Organizational Development field, a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of MN Duluth and a Masters of Education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is also a certified HR Professional and a life-long learner.
Dawn is available to speak nationwide. For more info, visit Dawn’s website.