Outstanding customer service is rarely the result of high-priced employee training and performance-monitoring programs. Before launching a costly plan to overhaul the organization’s customer service operations, consider inexpensive steps that can significantly boost customer loyalty—right away.
Energize employees. Pep rallies can help, but nothing energizes employees more effectively than seeing senior management demonstrate enthusiasm toward customers. Bill Marriott of Marriott Corporation has been known to work the front desk from time to time. It isn’t for the guests’ benefit, but for his employees. They never forget seeing the head of the company doing what they do—and enjoying every minute of it.
Be generous with customers. In the rush of day-to-day business, small favors might seem trivial. To customers, however, they can be the key factor in a decision to develop a long-term relationship with a company. It might be as simple as a compliment an employee gives to a customer. Or, it could be a special tailor-made recognition given a customer for placing a larger order or being loyal for a long time.
Keep pace with changes in customers. Customer expectations are constantly changing. They are up 33% over this time last year. Organizations that don’t keep up with them have little chance of developing long-term relationships. Instead of asking customers how they like the organization’s service, ask them; “What can our company do to provide the best service in the business?” Answers will help keep you up to date on what customers expect.
We work in challenging economic times. As margins get thinner, budgets are squeezed. Sometimes, the best service is simple service. Just like that homemade holiday gift given during lean years when you were growing up, frugal service can still be fantastic service.
Written by Dr. Johnny D. Magwood, Vice President and Chief Customer Officer for Northeast Utilities. A well-known industry spokesperson, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.