Whatever industry you’re in, the key to your survival is to ensure repeat business – and one of the best ways to do that, in today’s tough climate, is to ensure that your customer service is first class.
So when you’re putting your customer service policy together, what do you need to consider?
Keep your customer services policy clear
Lay out, in plain English, the rights of the customer and the responsibilities of the customer service staff. Have a clear flowchart or protocol that your staff can follow. Revise your policy regularly, once a year at least, and more often if something unexpected happens, like an interruption to your supply chain. Have a named ‘sponsor’ who writes the policy and is ultimately responsible for its update.
Ask your staff
Get input from your customer service staff. They’re the people who deal with the customers on a daily basis, so they can tell you what works, what doesn’t, and what’s changing.
Make use of new technology. If your customer has given you a mobile or cell phone number or an email address, use it to keep them updated. Specify how customers can be contacted in your policy – consider having templates for emails or texts that can be adapted quickly.
Refunds and returns
You must include details on taking returns in your customer service policy and ensure that your staff understands how much they can authorize themselves, and when it’s necessary to refer queries to a supervisor. Make sure you include timescales so customers know what they can expect.
Train your staff
Staff should become familiar with the policy when they arrive at your business, during their induction, and whenever it changes. It doesn’t have to be sophisticated or time-consuming. A quick and simple e-mail or Internet link will be enough. Think about incorporating details of other useful training, like telephone skills, problem-solving and conflict resolution – and in your customer service policy, include details of how staff access this training. As part of your policy, have regular training sessions and updates for staff about your products or services, and any discounts or special offers available. The better your staff know your products, the more they’ll be able to help.
Make it public
Have your policy freely available for the world to see on your website, or at least a summary.
We live in a world where service is becoming increasingly impersonal, and one where loyalty is rarely rewarded, so taking time to make your customers feel as if they’re special and valued can help to increase repeat business. We also live in a world where many in positions of political leadership and power have shown they can’t be trusted. Buck the trend, and make sure your company delivers.
Some of the world’s best-known business leaders, ranging from Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to Walt Disney, have built their success on great customer service. When you have a new client, great customer service and after-care can make a huge difference in your conversion rates from ‘one time only’ customers to those who keep coming back again and again.
About the Author
Jack Harding is a business customer service consultant. He enjoys sharing his findings and observations on business blogs.