This week, Westlion insights caught up with Yvonne MacCarthy, an astute Customer Service Specialists and a trainer, to help uncover the top strategies to build an effective customer service in order to gain competitive edge.
She has trained over 2000 professionals and 100s of organizations across Africa in the last six years in the areas of customer service, interpersonal skills and personal development.
Yvonne demonstrates her expertise through her role as a resource person on different radio and TV platforms such as Citi FM, Multi TV, Starr FM and 3 FM. She was also the host for TV Africa’s business program ” How are you doing Ghanaian business?”. Her clients include Ucam press, Kingdom books and stationery, Ghana Commercial Bank, Top talent resources, British Council, Aramex, Nova Chiropratic, UEW, BROLL, Goldman Capital, Benmarine Services and Abii National.
Yvonne is a lead facilitator with Westlion under our Sales and Marketing programs as Customer Service Specialist.
Create a Customer Service Vision
The first step in creating a customer service strategy is to communicate the customer service vision to employees. Employees need to understand what the vision and organizational goals are for customer service and understand their responsibility to help achieve that vision.
An organization that shares a customer service vision, and teaches customer service skills, will provide a better customer service experience than an organization that leaves the front-line employees untrained and unprepared for dealing with customer issues.
Hire the Right Employees
Hiring with the customer in mind is important as a strategy for achieving excellent customer service.
Screening employees and ensuring that they possess the disposition and skill set to help support a strong customer service environment is important.
Skills can be taught but attitude and personality cannot. It’s a sad fact but not everyone should interact with customers, so hire the right people.
Train your employees
If you hire right, your employees will have a natural ability to serve your customers well. However, everyone can benefit from practical teaching on the organization’s products and approach to customer service.
The training should explain how the organization would like the employee to behave in every situation and should help employees understand how to respond to their customers. Employees need to know what you want them to do.
For example, teach them how to respond to complaints, how to be responsive to customers, how to meet customer needs, how to answer the phone and your organizations customer service standards.
Assess Customer Needs
Organizations fail, and waste valuable resources, creating products and services that they thought the customer wanted, only to find out it was not what the customer wanted at all. The strategy is to know what the customer wants and provide it before they ask.
The needs of the customers cannot be met without understanding what they want. It is important to talk to the customers to find out their perception of the services being provided and determining what their needs and expectations are.
This can be done by assessing and soliciting feedback through focus groups, customer satisfaction surveys, comment cards and developing a comprehensive plan to meet and exceed the customer needs.
Remember that customer needs and expectation change. What a customer wants today will be very different from what the customer wants a year or five years down the road. As things change, expectations and needs do too.
Create a consistent experience and deliver on your promise
One sure way to erode loyalty is to deliver an inconsistent customer service experience. One time it’s great. The next time it is bad. And, the next time it may be great again. Inconsistency creates uncertainty. Uncertainty erodes confidence. Lack of confidence leads to lack of trust. All of that leads to giving a customer a reason to consider your competition
Every package that arrives on time or product that works as intended reinforces your customers’ trust in you.
Customers don’t want you to promise them the moon as much as they want you to deliver it on time and with a smile.
Hold People Accountable
Employees should be made aware of how their service to the customer affects the organization’s overall performance and need to be held accountable for achieving customer satisfaction goals. This should be part of the organizations performance management system and should be part of the cultural norm.
For example, share customer satisfaction data with your employees and confront employees when they are not demonstrating the desired behaviors.
Reward and Recognize Good Service
There should be a well thought out system for acknowledging and rewarding employees for good customer service. Employees need positive reinforcement and should be rewarded when they demonstrate the desired behaviors of a strong customer service culture.