What do most Nigerian travellers think about the customer service they receive from our airlines? What do people think about cancelled flights without notice or apology? Long delays? Unscheduled detours?
How do passengers feel when they’re unable to fly because “there is no aviation fuel” yet their tickets are not refunded?
Customer service is always a hot topic in both the consumer and business space. Everyone knows it’s important, but how can you implement the practices to make your company stand out from the rest?
If you examine the companies that have become synonymous with outstanding customer service — Zenith Bank readily comes to mind — you will see a few interesting trends, each aimed at making the customer/client the center of the experience.
So, how do you provide exceptional and unparalleled customer service like the experts do? Whatever strategy you adopt, the endgame remains the same: meeting and exceeding your clients’ wants and needs.
Statistically, we’re likely to tell 10 to 15 more people about a bad experience than a good one, so your company’s customer service is a huge factor in determining your success or failure. How are you going to make your clients love you?
1. Make it easy for your customers to do business with you
The less effort it takes for consumers to achieve their goals when talking and working with you, the more loyal they will become. Take the time to explain what information they need to provide and what you expect of them in a way they will understand.
This means minimizing jargon! Nothing will turn current and potential customers off more than terms and phrases that are unfamiliar.
It is also vital you are clear about your processes and procedures so your customers know what to expect from you. Setting expectation is paramount to a healthy relationship.
When it is necessary to implement a change or update a policy, explain in detail why the change is necessary and how it will affect them directly. When everyone understands how things should work, the relationship will be mutually beneficial.
People spend a lot of time dealing with problems, but how much time gets devoted to complimenting customers when they do something right? Surprising clients with accolades – big and small – goes a long way in nurturing your relationship.
Here at Hitachi Business Finance, we are big fans of “surprise and delight” gifts. For example, we send out gifts quarterly to clients that we appreciate and value. It’s just one small way of letting our clients know that we appreciate them and their trust.
2. Form a good relationship with your clients
No one wants to be just another transaction to your company or an ID number in your database.
This is where a company like Health Plus does a great job. They’re hands-on, 100% of the time. From free consultation on health and lifestyle matters, to free weighing and blood pressure checks. They offer that little bit more. Add to these their loyalty cards which they never fail to remind you of, and it’s safe to say that Health Plus has customer service well-managed.
Take a look at your company — how many people are involved in the customer/client relationship? I recommend having a relationship manager who knows the client, and understands their business, wants, and needs. This person should be the consistent point of contact from your organization.
Dealing with the same person on a regular basis not only provides a personal touch, but may also help establish a rapport so each party feels comfortable addressing issues, concerns, and roadblocks. Avoid bouncing people around a company seeking help. If there is one point of contact, he or she always knows who to call.
3. Be responsive
Your clients want to know they are getting your attention and that you are working to meet their needs, both known and unknown. If a customer leaves a poor review online, or tags your company in a negative tweet or Facebook post, respond to it. Showing a disgruntled client that you care will likely change their opinion on your company, and may even cause them to change their original review.
Either way, it is important to respond to customer complaints and reviews.
4. Listen to your clients
Listen and appreciate people. Clients want to know that when they speak, you listen. It seems simple, but the act of truly listening is a dying art form. In a world filled with constant distractions, the temptation to multi-task is more prevalent than ever. Not every client’s request will be granted, but they must know that you are listening to their concerns.
Also, although it should go without saying, be courteous and respectful when communicating with your customers. I know it is not always easy, but a commitment to remain professional, respectful, and calm will always serve you well.
One woman posted a blog, upset over her distaste for a company’s children’s clothing. Once she posted the blog, other parents stated their agreement. The company not only apologized for the line of clothing, but offered the blogger the opportunity to help them come up with new clothing ideas for children.
The bloggers were very pleased with the quick response, and excited that their voices were heard by such a big company.
5. Make it about them, not you
Your clients are your bread and butter. They keep the lights on. Going above and beyond for them ensures a long and plentiful relationship.
Attracting new clients is a lot of work. But keeping existing clients is just as important. Remember, it costs six to seven times more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing customers! So the next time you’re talking to a client, keep that in mind and always put your best foot forward.