Customer service is an essential part of virtually any company: there are very few, if any, that can afford to entirely neglect this area of the business. For both new and established companies, developing a good customer service strategy helps develop good customer relationships, establish brand loyalty, and encourage repeat business and referrals.
Create a Mission Statement
The first step in creating a customer service strategy is to think about what standard of customer care you want to provide, and to distil this into a simple mission statement that reflects your company’s ideals. For example, do you aim to provide 100% guaranteed customer satisfaction, or is it simply to provide efficient, friendly service to all customers? Whatever your mission statement is, it should be communicated clearly to all employees, and to your customers.
Determine the Current Standard of Care
Next, it’s time to determine how you currently compare with the industry standard. Obtain and review feedback from customers and talk with staff, to find out how your customers perceive your company, and to identify current issues relating to customer service. Research companies with gold-star reputations for customer care, to find out what makes their service strategies successful, and use the information you’ve gained to establish your customer care goals. Finally, compare your company’s current customer care service to the goals you want to attain, so you can see where you’re falling short.
Develop a Plan for Improvement
Once you know where your problem areas are, it’s time to determine where and how improvements can be made. For example, you might find that your customer service team is consistently slow to respond to customer complaints and inquiries, and determine that the best solution is to hire and train more staff. Another possibility might be that your customer care team has a problem with addressing a specific kind of customer issue, and needs additional customer service training, or even product training, to help them deal with it more effectively.
With this information in hand, the framework for setting customer care standards can be developed. This should be a highly specific document that includes details of customer services, the staff who provide them, and the standards of performance that define each service. It’s also necessary to decide how staff will be trained; for example, will they attend in-house customer service courses, or receive training elsewhere? Finally, your plan should include a time frame for improvement, and a schedule of dates for training and review.
Effective customer care is largely about people, but don’t underestimate the importance of technology. Investigate the possibility of technology you can adopt to improve the customer care processes you’re developing; for example, access to an online help index that customers can access to solve common problems with simple solutions. This not only improves the experience for customers; by reducing the amount of time service staff must spend on these problems, it also helps streamline the entire customer care process.
Coordinate and Incentivise the Strategy
Depending on the size of your company and your customer service team, it can be useful to appoint one or more people to implement the strategy and supervise other customer care workers. These employees are the ones who ensure that your new strategy is being implemented “in the field,” help staff work effectively, and identify any problems.
Another useful tactic is to create one or more incentive strategies to encourage acceptance of and adherence to the new customer service guidelines. Adding an element of competition by setting individual or departmental goals and rewarding the top performers can be effective, for example.
Alison is a marketing manager of global sales and customer service training firm AchieveGlobal (UK) Limited, specializes in providing exceptional customer service skills courses and helps organizations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Alison enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership.