How to Improve Customer Service and Delight Customers Every Time

To improve customer service on an ongoing basis must be an integral part of every employee's job description. Great customer service is intentional, it's not something great businesses just "happen" to provide. It's a choice that business owners and their employees make on a daily basis, during every customer interaction.

Every day when an employee walks into their workplace, they either knowingly, or unknowingly, choose how they will conduct themselves throughout the day.

improve customer service

It's of paramount importance that your employees know what you expect. They must know that you expect them to arrive to work on time; to leave at home any negative moods or other personal issues that will distract them from providing the best service possible to their customers. If they can't effectively focus on the customer due to personal issues, then the employee needs to take the necessary time off they need to address those issue so they can return to their job squarely focused on their customers. 

Employees must understand that you expect them to purposefully choose to add value to every customer to the best of their ability. 

Making sure every team member shows up to work, ready to work and meet the expectations of their job is the responsibility of the leader. One of the most important things a leader can do to ensure team members are ready for the day is to be on site when team members walk in the door and greet them with a sincere "Good morning, how are you?"

Listen closely to the response you receive from the employee...

"We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better."

- Jeff Bezos

Did the employee make eye contact with you, with a smile on their face and say, "Good morning, I'm great, how are you?" Or, maybe they said, "I'm doing fine now that I made it through traffic."  Either response is positive, no major clues that the employees isn't ready to have a productive day. 

However, if the employee responds in a manner that seems negative, or the employee is frowning, appear to be shaken or overly distracted, those would be possible signs you might need to engage further. "Hey Sarah, are you doing okay, is there something I can help you with?" By showing a level of concern that is sincere and not judgmental, you open the door for the employee to possibly share more information that will help you to decide the next best course of action. Bottom line, you need Sarah to be on top of her game and ensure that the interaction you just witnessed will not be the experience of the customer.

A little conversation goes a long way to improve customer service standards with your employees. After a short discussion, Sarah will most likely recognize needs to leave personal issues at the door so she can provide excellent service to her customers.  

Top 10 Steps to Improve Customer Service

The following key points are critical to the delivery of quality customer service:

  1. Listen - stop talking. Take time in the beginning to really hear what your customer is asking for.
  2. Be Sincere - if you don't care, or simply aren't engaged in what you are doing - the customer will feel that. If you can't be focused on your customer then it's time for you to seek a new position and find happiness elsewhere. Life's too short to waste time doing something you don't enjoy. And it's selfish to make others pay for your lack of interest.
  3. Introduce Yourself Properly - a courteous introduction paves the way to a quality interaction and memorable customer experience. Always be authentic and sincere. Never try to fool a customer by putting on an act as it will only come across as fake.
  4. Use The Customers Name In Conversation - get to know your customers by name to build rapport and leverage customer loyalty. Using your customer's name when you greet them and during conversation is a great way to connect and further improve customer service quality.
  5. Smile! - no one can look or sound cranky if they have a smile on their face. Try it, it's impossible to do. Observe your employees and see them as your customers see them. Are they smiling?  This is also true for employees speaking to customers over the phone. If they are smiling, the customer will "hear" their smile. 
  6. Use Good Manners (I.e., Please, thank you, you're welcome, my pleasure, etc.) - good manners reflects well on the individual and the organization. Common pleasantries are becoming more and more refreshing to customers looking for a quality customer experience.
  7. Be Prompt - being on time shows that you are respectful of others time. In addition, being prompt sends the message to others that you expect them to be on time, which leads to higher efficiencies and increased production.
  8. Follow Up - to follow through on your commitments demonstrates personal ownership to your customer. Your credibility is determined on how consistently you follow up and how effectively you utilize your time and your customer's time.
  9. Do More Than Keep Your Promise - great service providers make a habit of over delivering. Always plan to surprise and delight your customer by giving them a little more than they expect. Nothing builds customer loyalty faster and deeper than consistently over-delivering on your service promise.
  10. Never Take The Customer For Granted - the customer is in charge. You work for them, or you'll soon be out of a job, or out of business. Never lose sight of who your customer is and what they are experiencing each time they conduct a transaction with your organization.

Each of the above steps are key to improve customer service quality. As the leader it is your responsibility to regularly coach to these steps and to inspect that all team members are living up to their customer service promise. 

"The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to improve customer service."

- John Russell

Benefits of Improved Customer Service

There are many benefits you will receive when you improve customer service on an ongoing basis, which include:

  • Customers will remain loyal and they will refer their friends!
  • Employees will take pride in their organization and in themselves.
  • The organization will grow in its reputation, as well as its profits.
  • Stakeholders (Owners & Shareholders) will realize greater returns on their investment.
  • The Industry will take notice of your company's success. You will raise the bar for service delivery for the entire industry.

Businesses that execute the 10 key steps provided above are certain to improve customer service standards for their business and reap these many benefits as a result of their hard work and focused efforts. 

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