Steps to Management Success – Step 107: Improve Customer Service

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 14th, 2010

STEP ONE HUNDRED SEVEN

Improve Customer Service

You know how important customer service excellence is to the success of your business. It will help attract more customers and keep them coming back. It will generate more word-of-mouth referrals and positive impressions. Indeed, exceptional service is such a rarity these days, that achieving it—or even aiming for it—is almost certain to establish a significant competitive advantage. Nevertheless, this is one area where “good enough” isn’t. You need to aim high—and keep trying.

WHAT IT MEANS: Organizations exceed customer expectations by focusing their improvement efforts in three areas: customer-friendly processes, employee commitment to customer service, and customer dialog. You must be excellent in all three areas to achieve excellent customer service. This is one area that needs to be micromanaged or extensively scrutinized and evaluated. A customer service seminar or retreat session for your workers or managers is a good start; a customer service suggestion or rewards program is a good idea—but it takes more than this to create a corporate culture that’s truly committed to service excellence. Everyone, from the top down, has to walk the talk. Processes have to be made more customer-friendly. Continual customer service improvement is possible, but it must be continually pursued.

ACTION PLAN: There are five pillars that can help you get from good to great: find and retain quality people, make service a core value (so employees can think beyond the policy manual), empower frontline employees with the discretion to make customers more satisfied, solicit and use customer feedback, and pick the right customers (decide who your core customers are, and do what you can to woo and wow them).

EVEN BETTER: Try doing business with your company. Place an order, call tech support, request some sales literature, or try to get a return authorization—or have some “service-quality scouts” do this for you and report back to you. The results could be very enlightening. The more you can view every facet of your company from your customers’ perspective, the more clues you’ll gain regarding potential areas of improvement.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)


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