A few days ago, I received a phone call from a friend who is a major shareholder in a well-known company involved in the tourism industry. When she asked me if I could design a workshop to help the members of her team improve the quality of their customer interactions and customer service, she was somewhat surprised by my reply. I told her that, of course I could design such a workshop but I then explained that one of the most reliable ways of identifying how to improve customer service is to ask her customers directly.
Start with them to stay with them
My proposal was based on a positive experience I had with one of my best customers, Lounic Ltd, for whom the first step was to send out a questionnaire to obtain feedback from the customers themselves.
Step two was to interview some of those customers. In the context of my latest proposal, the results will be of vital importance in helping us gather information in the form of feedback which I can then report back to the company. The interview process will also reveal insights into my friend’s customers’ buying behaviour and show what the customers value the most. Such interviews almost always enable me to help the companies I work with to achieve a whole new level of customer service.
The third step – which can truly help a company differentiate itself from its competitors – will be to invite a few vital and influential customers for an open and frank discussion about how they view the service they are currently receiving and what improvements they would like to see. This is what I did in the case of one of my customers, Lounic Ltd, and it is no exaggeration to say that, on the day of the discussion, all the company’s employees were on the edge of their seats as they heard first-hand what key decision-makers liked (or disliked) about the customer service they were receiving and what they wanted to see changed, improved or fixed.
It was a perfect example of a win-win situation. Her customers correctly felt that they were being heard and their views were appreciated. The company employees left knowing exactly what they needed to do to maintain their customers’ loyalty and trust. Fast forward a few weeks and the results of that crucial feedback were already being implemented. They were on the way to improving the company’s sales and, subsequently, their own earnings.
As a friend once told me, “You need to deserve it before you demand it.” Lounic Ltd took the necessary step to deserve its customers’ loyalty and was then in a position to demand a larger share of the market through their patronage and unsolicited referrals.
Who doesn’t want to be part of a great success story? The key steps are remarkably simple:
- Aim to meet and then exceed your customers’ expectations.
- Be willing (and courageous enough) to solicit your customers’ feedback.
- Turn your customers into consultants by adopting, at least some of, the changes they suggest.
If you take the above steps, you will not only improve your customer service. You will also understand the truth of the old saying “The customer is always right”!