In today’s tough economic times, companies are looking for different means to survive and increase their business revenue. Often times, these means are more directed to add new customers, or to sell more products. Even though they run on tight budgets, they often do not want to cut any budget from the marketing area. Because the general belief is that spending more on marketing is the key to survive in the slow times. So, common mistakes companies make during these times are to cut the budget, or the man power on the customer service area. This mistake is very costly. Regardless of all the efforts to promote themselves to new customers, companies lose revenue from existing customers. The customers are very demanding and sensitive during these times. If companies are looking to save money to survive, so are customers who are shopping for the best deals. So, any perceived chance of not serving their needs with proper care triggers the idea in the customer’s mind to shop elsewhere.
Excellent customer service is the cornerstone to any company’s success. Without customers, there is no business. In any organization the commitment to customer service begins at the top. The company’s leaders must buy into the fact that they not only need to meet their customer’s expectations, but actually strive to exceed them. They must develop a company culture that understands this concept. It is a very competitive market in every field. One of the main problems with large companies is that they tend to lose touch with their customers and begin to see them as just numbers. Repeat business is the name of the game. It cost up to five times more to find a new customer than to keep an old one happy. Surveys suggest that service driven companies are able to charge up to 9% more for the goods and services they offer and grow twice as fast as the average. These are powerful incentives for becoming the best customer-service company in any industry. Equally, poor service has a cost penalty. According to research the average person who has a bad service experience tells at least nine others about it and 13% of complaints relate their experience to more than 20 other people. In comparison, people who receive good service only tell three or four others about it.
Barbara K. Giamanco, Chief Talent Officer from talentbuildersinc.com, has defined four basic rules crucial to delivering winning customer service:
Rule #1: Listen! When customers complain there is a reason. More importantly, it is an opportunity to learn something, so hear them out without interrupting or arguing.
Rule #2: Don’t take it personally. Customer complaints are about products or services that did not live up to their expectations or the marketing hype. Taking it personally, getting defensive, or getting angry only makes the situation worse.
Rule #3: Offer a sincere apology for an inconvenience. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Remember what it feels like when something you have purchased did not do the job it was supposed to, or caused an even bigger problem than the one it was supposed to solve.
Rule #4: Never say, “It’s not my job or my department or my responsibility.” If you work at the company that made the product or sold the service – it is your job! Make a personal commitment to do whatever it takes to fix the problem even if it is not in your job description.
It is very important that a good customer relationship management strategy is in place. That strategy includes process reengineering, organizational change, incentive-program change, and a totally revamped corporate culture. It is a combination of business process and technology and managing customer profiles from a multifaceted perspective. The goals of implementing corporate strategy for customer relationship management in the business framework include:
• Using existing relationships to grow revenue
• Using integrated information for excellent service
• Introducing consistent, reliable channel process and procedures
A strong customer service team can be an effective way in which companies can easily establish a solid rapport with existing and prospective customers in addition to finding out ways to improve products and services. Providing exceptional customer service will give any company an advantage over their competitors.