National Customer Service Week
As Customer Service Week rolls round again, it's perhaps a good idea to take a look at why this is such an important part of your business strategy. It doesn't matter what type of business it is, whether traditional bricks and mortar or exclusively online – if you don't have a commitment to excellent customer service at every stage, you will quickly run into trouble. The world is awash with examples of companies that fell into this trap – but there are also plenty that took customer relations seriously and reaped the rewards.
Customer retention is key to business success, partly since repeat orders from loyal customers can help get you through otherwise tough times, but this vital aspect can easily get lost in the understandable push to gain new clients. In an era when customer loyalty can be transient and temporary, and switching suppliers is as easy as picking up the phone or making a few clicks of a mouse, businesses need to mark themselves out from the rest, and gaining a reputation as a company that cares about its customers is a very good approach.
Although the internet is now an integral part of almost every firm's marketing strategy, it's important not to neglect phone-based communication. This has the huge advantage of customers being able to speak in real time with your sales team, but it can also bring with it potential pitfalls. Human beings are good at reading voices, so will quickly know whether your call handling team are truly enthusiastic about your products or simply reading robotically from prepared scripts.
First impressions matter more than ever. Put yourself in the place of a customer making an initial enquiry. Your business is unlikely to be the only one they contact, and you will only get one chance to capture their attention. Your customer-facing staff need to build strong connections with clients from the word go, and maintain them until completion and beyond.
There is no more powerful reputational tool than customer word of mouth – but it's vital to treat it carefully, since acquiring a poor reputation for customer service can be disastrous for your entire business. From initial call handling to post-completion formalities, there should be a tight, driven focus on making your customers feel that they've made the best possible choice – and that they will be treated just as well if they return to you in the future. It's not just National Customer Service Week that's important: it's Customer Service Always.