We are all in the Customer Business


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Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks stated, “We are in the customer business serving coffee, not the business of coffee serving customers.”I think everyone who runs a business needs to understand what that means. If you asked your staff, would they say they are in the car business/restaurant business/call center business, or would they say they are in the customer business.

It is a different focus. If you say you are in the business of selling cars, then is your focus on making customers happy or moving cars. Now some may say, but I have to sell cars. Understood but if you are focused on your customers, then you will provide them what they need when they are looking for a car versus what you think they need.

I stress this fact because companies will lose customers really fast when they forget what it feels like to be a customer. When you focus on providing an excellent customer experience with your business, then when they buy from you they will become your best best salespeople or brand advocates. We all do it in many ways from telling our friends where to eat, what to buy, what new group to listen to. Brand advocacy is why companies grow, but remember it is not just the product the customer is buying but the experience they get from your whole organization top to bottom.

So let’s talk about what excellent customer service is and one aspect that you can easily adjust in your business for improved performance.

I believe excellent customer service is when “an organization exceeds their customer’s expectations consistently”.

I love the word “Consistently” in regards to excellence. Anyone can do something one time. Great companies or individuals do it over and over. What you need to ask yourself is whether excellent customer service is a philosophy that runs through your entire company, or just a department that handles complaints.

There are many aspects of excellent customer service but let’s focus on one very important aspect and how we can implement it.

Get the information the first time

Companies interact with their customers through email, phones and face to face.
Nothing aggravates a customer more than explaining their situation to someone, only to find out they were not listening and they have to repeat themselves. Right there, you have started losing their repeat business. Every time this occurs it is due to a lack of focus by your employee on who they are interacting with.

There is always going to be pressure to get to the next customer. In call centers there may be a push to handle a certain number of calls per hour, when dealing face to face with customers, your store/dealership/department may be busy and other customers are waiting so your employee may feel the need to rush what they are doing.

I would recommend adding the following to your team’s customer service training. A simple way to train employees to slow down when dealing with customers so they can get the information correctly the first time, is to ask them how they would want to be treated in the same situation. Ask them for real life examples of good and poor customer service they have experienced so they can be more aware of how their actions can impact customer service.  By doing this, you are allowing them to be part of creating the solution for this problem.

When employees are involved in creating a solution, they are more apt to remember it and apply it moving forward thus growing excellent customer service in your organization.

Never forget what level of service you expect when you are a customer and bring that level to your business.

Let me know your thoughts.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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