Business owners often ask, “What is the optimal level of service that we should provide to stay in business? How much is too much if our customers are not willing to pay us for it?”
There is no easy answer for that. It’s wise not to go to the moon on service if your current business model on the moon doesn’t work. There is no point to serve yourself to death, bending over backwards and eventually going broke in the process.
As a business owner, you really need to figure out what level of service your business can provide, and match that with what your customers are willing to pay. However do take note that customers rarely put voluntary limits on their service expectations. Customer needs and wants always change and being a customer you will always want more and not less. That’s why it’s very important to make clear service agreements so that the customers know beforehand what to expect. It’s ideal for your business to communicate clearly what it promises to provide, and what it isn’t promising, too!
The manager of a local Network Provider shared this complaint in a forum:
His staff frequently goes into customers’ homes and offices to install modems and communications software. They particularly train their customers to access new e-mail accounts and surf the World Wide Web.
Before his staff can leave, however, office-based customers start asking about unrelated hardware compatibility questions, new software patches/upgrades and ask suggestions on how to fix non-working printers! Eager home-based customers insist on help installing new games and joysticks, debugging new versions of Windows, even assistance repairing their children’s Nintendo!
So to eliminate this kind of problem, your business should clarify and specify what services they do provide…and what services they do not.
So be sure that the service agreements you make with your customers and internal partners are complete and clear. Misunderstanding can lead to disappointment once delivery of your service is underway.
Check with your customers and staff on a regular basis to find out what are the most common misunderstandings and disagreements that arise on a regular basis. You can use a mystery shopping company to help you to get the customer feedback in a more structured manner.
Based on the feedback of your customer and staffs, you can go through your proposals, contracts and service level agreements and wherever uncertainty is found, replace it with accuracy, clarity and understanding.
But do remember that a customer is always “right”!