Take Control of Your Customer Service

Building a Customer-Oriented Business
September 7, 2009

Quality customer service is your
competitive edge. Everyone can
have similar products or services,
but what they can’t replicate
is your people, how they treat
your customers, and how your
customers feel when they are
doing business with you.

The best way to “wow” your
customers is to take care of
the people who take care of
your customers. Businesses
have to care about their people
both internally and externally.
When the people who work for
you feel valued, they will make
the customer feel valued. This builds
customer loyalty.

If you aren’t treating your
internal people right and they don’t
feel valued, they might pass that
same negative attitude on to your
customers. It’s the attitude of, “Why
would you want to shop here?
Do you even know what goes on
beyond closed doors?”

"The best way to
“wow” your customers
is to take care of the
people who take care
of your customers."

Leaders who are serious about
creating a culture of exceptional
service start by getting everyone
on the same page, believing fi rst
that service is important. Make sure
everyone in your business knows
customer service is part of their
even if they aren’t interacting
directly with your external
customers. Walk the talk. You
have to say it’s important,
but also act like it. As a
business leader, how do you
treat others? Leaders have to
be great role models.

You can lose customers when
there’s inconsistency. When some
people at your company are great
to work with and others are not,
customers get frustrated. Don’t
allow inconsistency internally,
either. Don’t say quality of service
is important and only measure
your personnel by the number
of calls made. You have to have
measurement tools, but balance
those tools against the level of
service your people are providing.

What does good customer
service look like? What does it
feel like? And what does it mean
for your business? You need to
define it for your people. You
also need to have incentives
and reward programs. For any
behavior you want people to
exemplify, you have to reward it.

Make sure your people aren’t
caught up in wanting to win and
being right in order to prove the
customer wrong. You don’t want
people who won’t bend on your
policy even if something works
better. You have to empower
people to think beyond policy.

Hire the right people, train
your people and encourage them
to use their brains. You need to
make people feel like it’s their
business. Ask the people who
deal directly with the customers’
questions, listen to them and
incorporate their good ideas.

You don’t want people who
work for you to think you don’t
care what they have to say.
Encourage them to listen, and
make it a safe place for them
to speak up when they see
something that isn’t working.
Give your people credit when
they fi x or improve something.
Ownership builds trust. If people
on your team have that trust,
why would they ever want to
jump ship and go someplace
else? This is a much better
outcome than what I call “quit
and stay,” when people show
up, but they are dead meat.
When your internal people aren’t
happy, they will tell everyone
about it.

What do you want your
customers to know? For us,
service is about caring about
others. We established the
slogan I CARE. When you know
someone cares about you, you
have that trust and loyalty, and
you are willing to forgive them if
something goes wrong.

Constantly measure and
evaluate how you are doing. You
can’t just do a yearly survey and
think you will capture it all. Gather
data and measure the service
internally as well as externally.

Your customers likely want
options. Some people would
rather just have an automated
system, but you have to give
people options to speak to a live
person. People fail to realize that
many customers still want the
human touch.

Ken Blanchard is a global leadership
and management expert and co-founder
of The Ken Blanchard
Companies. He’s the best-selling
author of numerous books, including
The One Minute Manager and
Raving Fans.

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Take Control of Your Business

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