Acceptable to Great

So how do you make a customer service experience go from acceptable to great? It is a tough thing to do and it’ll take more than taking the SAT to figure it out.

Read a lot.
Firstly, to understand what makes a great customer service experience, you have to read a lot. You need to read a lot of blogs, a lot of books, and a lot of articles. These collectively will give you an idea about what makes a great customer service experience and to what extreme (for the better) some companies take customer service.

Ask.
Don’t forget to ask your customers! Ask them: What would you like to see us improve upon? A simple, open-ended question like that can produce a lot of helpful feedback. It is amazing how few companies actually ask that question when it is so simple to ask and the information they get back is so useful.

Analyze.
After you understand what a truly great customer service experience is, you need to analyze pretty much everything related to customers with your company. Depending on your product/service and the level of detail you use, this could be done fairly quickly or literally take years (if you have a company where it’ll take a long time – hire someone to help so you do it right the first time). Some things you could look at:

  • How does the product get to the customer?
  • What is involved with setting up the product?
  • What is involved with using the product?
  • How do customers get support for the product?
    • Is it difficult to contact the company?
    • How are issues tracked?
    • Are follow ups made?
    • etc.
  • How do customers return the product?

These are just some of the many questions that you should ask yourself. Think: what does the customer have to do? Look at my series on service calls (http://www.serviceuntitled.com/category/service-calls/) and you’ll see what I am talking about. I outlined the customer service experience involved with a service call.

Improve.
Once you know what the customer has to do, think how to make it better. Can you make the product easier to open? Can you make it easier to contact the company? Should you send follow ups? How can you improve the return process? You should go through each step that you came up in the analyze step and see what you can do to improve it. Your reading should give you an idea of what some other companies do, so your job is to tailor it to your product, your team, your company, etc.

You should take the improvement process one step at a time. Don’t jump and try and do everything at once. Some companies prefer to do it in order (i. e. fixing product shipping first), while other companies prefer to do it in order of importance (how I would do it). Start small and move up to bigger improvements. If all it takes to fix a step is change some words in your documentation, do that and move up from there.

Watch.
Once you implement these changes, be sure to watch them. Are they actually helping? What do customers think? Be sure to monitor quality (discussed here) and ensure the changes are helping and being done wherever they should be. For example, it doesn’t do the customer any good if your training manual says “Address customers by name”, but employees aren’t doing it. You need to monitor them to ensure they are doing their part as well.

Don’t hesitate to ask your customers again in a few months. Something like “We listened to you and made the following changes. How did we do? Did we miss anything? What would you like to see improved further?” Again, simple questions that can go a very long way.

One Response to “Acceptable to Great”

  1. Glenn Ross said:

    Sep 28, 06 at 9:59 pm

    Once you know, then you must have the courage to act. It’s one thing if you’re the business owner, it’s another entirely if you’re a new store manager in a national chain. Make the business case to your bosses, show the benefits to your employees (both usually equal more income.) Be tactful, listen, use your sales techniques on your bosses.

    Read this post from David Lorenzo:
    http://careerintensity.com/blog/2006/09/27/tenets-of-soaring-salesmanship/#comments