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Defining Outstanding Customer Service

I decided to Blog on my 8th “core belief” from the About page on my website because I didn’t really include any discussion of it in my book, “Winning in the 21st Century: Business Principles & Processes That Really Work.” I did not discuss this principle in the book because I thought readers would already know that it is an absolute must if you are going to win consistently in business today. Below, I have elaborated on eleven “must haves” if you desire to be great in customer service.

Answering a phone call, text, or email – How often do you find yourself frustrated when you are trying to talk to someone about buying a product or service and the answering service makes you go through three or four steps just to talk to a human being? Same thing when you text or email someone to make an inquiry and no one responds back. In all of these examples, you are effectively telling a prospective client that they don’t matter to you. Companies that are great at customer service answer all calls immediately with a pleasant voice of someone who is committed to helping the caller get the answers that they are looking to find. Emails and texts are answered quickly (within an hour of receipt.) This kind of response makes the customer feel like their needs are important to you. First impressions are very important. Thus, great customer service begins with how you handle the customer’s attempt to start a conversation with you about something they may need from your company. 

Ease to finding what customers are looking for – You must make it easy for the perspective customer to find what they are looking for to satisfy their need. Most people today are impatient and seek immediate gratification. If they don’t find it easily and quickly, they are likely to look elsewhere.

Ease of ordering – Once the perspective customer has found what they are looking for on your site, it should be very easy for them to find the price of the item, the estimated delivery, and to place the order.

Easy to payment – Make it easy for the customer to pay. Accept PayPal and major credit cards. Beyond certain dollar amounts when these methods are impractical. An electronic invoice should be generated and electronic funds transfer (EFT) available for immediate payment. This modicum of great customer service also makes for good working capital management on the seller’s part.

Immediate fulfillment of order – In today’s world of the need for quick transactions, great customer service requires the seller to meet the fulfillment needs 100% of the time when the buyer wants the product. Shipment from stock is ideal but not practical in every circumstance. This is where a term I use in the book, “Velocity,” comes into play. Your supply chain and factory must be optimized to produce the product faster than anyone else can do it.

Updates on product delivery – You should have as part of your ERP system a mechanism for telling the buyer when to expect receipt of the goods the moment the order is placed. Updates should flow to the buyer regularly when something has changed relative to the status of the order: whether it has shipped or a delay has occurred causing a new expected delivery date. Don’t make your customer have to ask about the status of the order; tell them first! When the order has shipped, provide the customer with the shipping method as well as tracking data.

Speed of delivery – Amazon’s goal is one day from order placement. This is not practical for everyone, but you must be aggressive in this area. Sometimes customers are willing to pay for the speediest delivery method. Offer them several choices and let them make the decision on delivery speed and cost.

Accuracy with the order when it arrives – In these times, how frustrating is it when you get your takeout order home and find out it is wrong? Imagine how your customer feels when that happens on a shipment from you. Get it right the first time, every time.

High product performance expectations – You have done everything right and the customer begins to use your product, only to be frustrated by performance issues. I talk about the importance of great product quality and how to get there in the book. It should be one of your top priorities. You can miss a delivery date and be forgiven, but missing a date when the product does not work as advertised is often unforgiveable.

Problems rectified easily and quickly – Inevitably, there is going to be a problem with some of your orders. Either your customer made a mistake or you did. Great customer service makes this correction an easy experience. If it is difficult to make an exchange or the correction is overly time consuming, your customer may look elsewhere the next time.

Customer Appreciation – When the entire process has been successfully completed, have your ERP system generate a thank you letting your client know you appreciate their business and asking if there is anything you could have done to make their experience more satisfying.

These are some of the main characteristics of great customer service but certainly not all. I think an example of great customer service in our world today is Amazon. They excel in all the areas above. It is no wonder that they are dominating their space so totally and changing the landscape of the buying experience forever.

Warren Martin

Founder

15 Consulting

August 25, 2020