Most managers talk about the importance of customer service, but far fewer are able to concisely describe what they mean. It can effortlessly become an empty cliché rather than a strategy for progression.
Yet customer service can be as significant for product businesses as it is for service organizations.
I recently read an interview of a group of business managers from the manufacturing industry who made the argument that customer service has been as important as pricing which helped them to retain customers through the recent economic downturn.
You are expected to turn your customer service proposition into a real competitive advantage when:
• You are focused on the few dimensions that your target customers really value.
• Your business has a service offering that is truly distinctive.
• You have the ability and promise to deliver your service consistently to the required standards.
Here are 9 scopes of exceptional customer service that every business should focus on to drive loyalty, profitability and bring progression in your business:
1. Every business needs to find a way to provide great convenience and accessibility for their customers. For instance, computer manufacturer Dell doesn’t sell through regular retail stores, but you can buy custom-made computers online or over the phone 24-hours a day, which are then delivered direct to your door.
2. Your business should provide sufficient self-help tools and support so that’s its easier for customer to make a decision or find answers to a problem. For instance, supermarkets provide shoppers with a range of trolleys and baskets so that its easier for customers to carry their items, and Nike has developed online support tools for runners to set themselves training goals and track times and distances.
3. Your business should provide a suitable environment that sets the mood for a customer. For instance, fragrance companies such as Clinique and Estee Lauder only supply retailers that deliver a high-quality retail environment to support their products.
4. Your business should always make the “key” products available. Product and service availability is essential in improving your net sales growth.
5. Your business can never win the price war, so your attitude and friendliness towards your customers is very important. A key aspect of Airasia’s success in Asia has been its ability to deliver a friendly service alongside its extremely low fares.
6. If you are in retail, your speed and responsiveness has to be exceptional. Tesco stole a march on competitors when it introduced its “one in front” policy, where it opens a new till when shoppers, queuing to pay, have more than one other shopper in front of them.
7. If you want your customer to value you then you need to give them more personalized attention. A popular US department store, Nordstrom places customer service as its #1 strategic objective. As part of this objective, the store provides all its sales people with access to a “Personal Book”, allowing them to record and refer to individual customer preferences through their till systems.
8. Your business needs to build a Community among your customers. Many businesses have started to appreciate social media tools like Facebook & Twitter more in 2009 as its helping businesses to join into the conversation that their customers are already a part of.
9. Your business should dominate the niche that it specializes in. Apple has created a whole new industry of apps providers for their iPhones. Apple hasn’t sought to provide the applications themselves, but, through its App Store has created the links for application developers and users to do business. When an app sells, it’s eventually good for apple as those apps will only run of Apple’s platform.