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Good customer service is no longer good enough

Your business would not exist without customers. And if you have customers, you need to have not just customer service, but superior customer service.

Everybody talks about the importance of superior customer service, but few seem to follow through on it.

Customers want products and services fast and cheap from whoever will provide them. Scarcity of products and services is now a thing of the past.

That means the competitive advantage is now in your ability to keep your customers and build repeat business.

With the coming of social networks especially the popular Facebook and Twitter it has become easier for customers to spread their dissatisfaction with your service to the rest of the world.

Make the customer angry and chances are they will post a nasty comment about your shoddy service on their Facebook or Twitter account.

In a click of a computer mouse the whole world is able to see that post and make comments about it as well. You cannot afford to have that happening, do you? But instead you can utilise the platforms to have them talk about your superior service.

Good customer service is no longer good enough in this day and age. It has to be superior, it has to be "wow", it has to be an unexpected exceptional service.

This means doing what you say you will, when you say you will, how you say you will, at the price you promised-plus a little extra tossed in to say "I appreciate your business." There are as many ways as there are businesses on how you can accomplish this.

You can use a scorecard to record, for example; decrease in customer complaints, referrals generated from current customers, increase in repeat business, changes in response time/turnaround time on orders, increased productivity and less rework on customer projects, and ultimately savings on damage control costs.

There are many, many options available.

All you need to do is get a superior service customer consultant to assist you or just figure it out on your own - think, be creative!

Ted Levitt from Harvard Business School once said: "If you are not thinking about your customers, you are not thinking." Think about it.

What is your executive team constantly thinking about?

What are you spending the majority of your time talking about?

Return on investment? The bottom line? What is it that consumes the bulk of your time? Be customer-focused, think and talk about your customers. Are they happy to do business with you? Are your processes customer friendly?

Are your employees empowered to offer superior customer service?

These and other customer related questions should occupy your thought processes and your actions should reflect it.

Superior customer service is dependent on three things, customer-friendly policies set by the organisation's executives, training offered to the staff and the attitude of the staff about their own organisation as generated by the way their company treats them.

What happens if any of these is out of sync?
If executives don't actually know or see how their policies get executed on the frontline, they're often shocked to discover the actual results of how the policies get carried out.

If people aren't trained on specifics (not just smile and use people's names), they don't know how to build customer loyalty even when they want to.
Customer service can become the result of poor employee treatment.

Employees can be spiteful. If they get pushed around and treated unfairly, they “get even” by doing things to drive your other customers away.

Ensure your staff have the right attitude to deliver superior service. Give them flexible policies that empower them to serve customers.

If your service of late has been bad and your customers are complaining and firing from all cylinders, what can you do? Fix it before bragging about it.

The mistake most managers make is to announce their intentions to improve customer service without new systems, policies and training in place, so nothing really changes for the customer. Customers' high hopes are dashed.

Then they become even more hostile and disappointed in the service.

So, the first step is to fix the problem, train the staff to deliver superior service and then announce the change to your customers as you set about proving it to them.

Just put your money, time and commitment where your mouth is. That's often the most difficult part. Everybody believes in superior customer service - in theory. The real difference develops when people actually commit to carry out their intentions.

Here is your opportunity to really make a difference in the kind of customer service your company provides.

Make sure your people actually commit to carrying out not just good, but superior customer service. The customers deserve it, after all they are the ones who pay the salaries.
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