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Exceptional Customer Service

Exceptional customer service is often quoted as core to most organisations, but few people get it right all of the time. However, it is not difficult to provide a service that customers find exceptional if you put customers at the heart of everything your organisation does.

Satisfied customers are the Holy Grail for any organisation as it ensures you attract new customers, retain existing customers and create long term loyalty. Minimising customer turnover leads to existing customers buying more from you and recommending you to others. The secret is simple, build your business around your customers’ requirements and constantly listen to them to understand the challenges they face and what their future plans are so you can respond with innovative products and services to help them.

After happy customers, your second biggest asset is your staff. Having motivated and passionate people representing your organisation will mean they are always doing the best job they can for your customers and thus the business, often going an extra mile to satisfy customer needs.

Attitude, skills and knowledge (ASK) is fundamental and employee selection processes should focus on these areas when attracting new talent to the organisation. Having a can do attitude is essential as it is easier to teach people skills than it is to change a person’s work ethic.

It is not just the obvious customer-facing staff (contact centres, retail outlets, branches or helpdesks) who should be relied on to react to customers’ needs. Everyone in the business should be focused on it to create an internal culture which promotes and rewards innovative thinking on customer service. Think about mechanics, home service engineers, hotel cleaners, reception and security staff. An example I came across was a university very focused on customer service excellence across all its academic and support staff, but whilst preparing for an open day (to attract new customers) their car park security manager, who had to find places for these customers to park, had such an abrupt and angry way of dealing with the hundreds of parents and their children that I’m surprised any of the got a good ‘first impression’ of the organisation. However, once they left their cars and met the teaching and admin staff they must have been very impressed with their credentials, teaching programmes, student union, pastoral care and career services recently redesigned to enhance the student journey. This security manager was notorious for bossing students about due to regular car park shortages, yet nobody had considered the consequences of his behaviour. It is too easy to undermine the efforts of many by forgetting the impact of the few.

Ultimately it is vital to have robust systems and processes in place which enable every member of the team to do the best job they can and be flexible towards customer needs and the reward and recognition procedures to reinforce the right attitude and behaviour in our employees.

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