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shutterstock_224792578.jpgIn today's business landscape, simply presenting the best price is not the ultimate solution that catapults a business into instant success. Clients of present and future analyze various rating systems to assist in their decision-making process. Easy access to sites like Yelp, Bizrate, and Google have changed how consumers conduct business. A one star rating can greatly impact clients considering your services. Granted, most consumers understand and easily discount the one-off complaints and bad rating when the comments seem unreasonable. However, a long-line of complaints will greatly impact future business growth. As a result, customer satisfaction and quick resolution becomes key factors that measure the ability to attract and retain customers.

To be successful in today's technology advanced market, companies need to become service champions that surprise and delight their customers even after the initial contact. To go beyond expectations, technology to remain relevant and informed is readily available. However, at the base of the service industry, some core factors of service must be maintained to attract and retain customers. Below are some tips that help companies increase service awareness.

Personalize Interactions. A long-standing rule of good customer service is to know your client by using their name in all interactions. Yet, knowing your customer must go beyond the courtesy of using a client's name because this only meets customer expectations. To exceed beyond, a company must take the time to learn their client and document so others can also personalize their interactions. Below are the key indicators that separate traditional customer service from service champions that go beyond expectations.

  1. Determine how customers like to communicate. Every person is unique so communication must support that unique quality. Some customers prefer to speak via the phone while others prefer text messages or emails. Ask, document, and follow through with the communication channel that best suits your customer. You'll develop an easier connection by following this simple process.
  2. Learn specific conditions of the client. Clients drive and readily express specific needs that are important and can greatly impact your ability to build a good working relationship. Are they a day sleeper? Do they travel? Do they have a family that requires special considerations? Learning and documenting these specific needs can help build a stronger foundation.
  3. Learn their "hot" buttons. Customers come into each interaction with previous experience that affects current and future interactions. Exposing a pet peeve provides insight and requires documentation to avoid future complications. Now, the documented information must remove all emotional aspects to remain a positive experience. Quite frankly, a service champion builds a good relationship by avoiding customer triggers that elicit a negative emotional response. A simple tone of voice has the potential to trigger a negative response that impacts the ability to solve the original problem.

Go beyond your commitments. Customers have certain expectations that revolve around promised made by the company. Service champions not only meet those expectations, they strive beyond the expected to delight their clients. For example, customers expect a company to provide service after the sale when something goes wrong. How an organization proceeds in meeting those needs will distinguish the bland from the extraordinary.

  1. Ask questions. Determine why exactly the customer is calling and document those comments to avoid repetition. Customers absolutely cannot tolerate explaining a problem multiple times. This repetition keeps the customer focused on the problem rather than a solution. Be sure to also ask what resolution they would like to see. This makes the customer part of the solution and helps the company quickly grasp if they can meet or even exceed that expectation.
  2. Recap what was heard. Generally, people enjoy learning that someone is actually listening to what they said. This also provides an opportunity to confirm you are both on the same page.  
  3. Be the resolution expert. The customer called because they need a resolution. Bringing forth confidence and dedicated reassurance in offering the best resolution builds customer dedication.

A company can never over-document client preferences that build a solid foundation. Having readily available access to customer preferences for anyone coming into contact with a client builds a quicker connection. This is especially important if the company is providing a long-time service or extended warranty. Conclusively, customers that encounter service champions are more likely to remain loyal to the company and refer additional business. 

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Kimberly Heuser | Service Power
Kimberly is a ServicePower's Marketing Program Manager. She is strong in marketing strategy, marketing campaign creation and management. Previously, Kimberly served as a Digital Project Manger at HSP Direct, a political fundraising company in which she created, implemented and managed digital marketing campaigns for politicians seeking office, large Political Action Committees and non-profit organizations. Prior to that, she owned a marketing and web design company where she developed and implemented marketing campaigns for radio networks, secondary education institutions, manufacturers, small businesses, online magazines and assisted local/international ministries with the development of their brand, web presence and marketing before moving to the Northern Virginia area. She also served as a Marketing Manager for several multi-million dollar distribution companies, where she worked with some of the largest household brands across the U.S. to create and launch marketing campaigns.
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