We all talk about good customer service. It’s something we expect when we visit a restaurant, hotel or a store.
Many times when we speak to our retail clients, they will immediately tell us their business offers great service. However, the reality can often be very different as many do not fully understand what ‘excellent’ or even ‘good’ means to their customers and what their actual expectations are.
Customer service is described as the assistance provided by a company to its customers relating to its products or services.
Let’s consider another phrase, ‘delivering excellence’, which could be defined as; going above and beyond the usual call of duty to make an event positively memorable even it is it to remedy a situation.
Therefore, if you really want to be known for excellence this Christmas, then here are some key components that you should bring into your strategy.
1) Define excellence – set the standards
It important to map out exactly what outstanding or extremely good looks like, feels like and sounds like and map out where your organisation’s current standards and practices of customer service delivery sit along that spectrum.
Now you may be thinking, that sounds easy, but it is often the attention to detail that will get you to that excellent level.
2) Fill in the gaps
Remember that customer service delivery is an end-to-end process, it is not just the job of the sales team, but it starts with the doorman and carries on through to the after-sales support service. You want to ensure that there are no gaps or loopholes that will lead to your customers feeling disappointed.
At London’s iconic Claridges, the management team will walk around the hotel checking for even the tiniest detail which is out of place in keeping with the hotel’s look, feel and atmosphere.
“The objective is to ‘create at least one memory that will turn into another visit’.“ – Thomas Kochs, Claridges general manager.
3) Buy-in to your vision
Excellence is not just a solitary action; it is a series of consistent correct actions performed daily. It is not just a theory, but a genuine desire to be better than just normal, to be excellent. This is something that every member of your team needs to buy-in to.
No change is easy to implement without the buy-in and support of your workforce. If they have no appreciation for the purpose and vision of the organisation then they will not be able to properly or completely execute your vision.
Why not create a slogan, that you believe represents your vision? Here are a few examples that you may recognise;
- ‘Believe in better’
- ‘Helpful banking’
- ‘Our customers are the heart of our organisation’
- ‘Make a customer not a sale’
- ‘Our customers are invited guests to a party and we are the hosts’
4) Learn from your customers
Without customers, you do not have a business, so do not be afraid to ask for customer feedback. Learn from everything your organisation did well, did not do well, the why’s and the how’s.
Customers are not simply those who purchase your products and services, your staff members are your internal customers. They are the ones who perform their roles on a daily basis and can identify much more easily where gaps lie and where the opportunities for improvements lie.
Importantly, this should be an open process for improvement for the organisation, hence having the right environment and team is important to support this activity.
5) Learn from your competitors
Many organisations work to do what their competitors do not do, to outsmart their competitors and stay a step ahead of them.
Whilst it is an important factor to ensure your organisation remains ahead within its industry, improvements and transformation initially comes from within – before you look to your competitors, it may be that your competitors have already identified your organisation’s weaknesses and are making their next move.
Naeem Arif is the founder of NA Consulting, a retail and management consultancy, as well as co-founder and vice chair of the Midlands Retail Forum.