Back when human flight was a new frontier, aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky famously said “aeronautics was neither an industry nor a science. It was a miracle”. That miracle now happens more than 100,000 times a day. The world available to anyone with enough money to pay their way. And pay they do: the UK aviation industry generates £60bn revenue each year, with ambitious plans for further growth.
Testament to this growth are the likes of Emirates, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, all reporting impressive profit boosts. Virgin Atlantic was placed in the top 15 companies with the best customer service in the UK, while Virgin has often cited its customer centric approach as a key driver of business success. The approach Virgin uses is simple, yet effective: “brilliant basics” paired with “magic touches”. This is a philosophy that businesses of any size should adopt.
So, how can other businesses elevate customer service to meet the expectations of the business high-fliers?
Get back to basics
Research shows that when it comes to customer service situations, 81 per cent of customers just want their questions answered. Clearly, getting the basics right is an important element for success. This starts with setting clear standards for customer operations and rolling them out across the whole workforce. Defining expectations and ensuring staff are on the same page is essential to delivering a universal experience for all customers.
Adequate training is fundamental – all staff need to be given the tools to meet the expectations set. This is particularly important when dealing with multiple channels of engagement. Customer service agents must be properly engaged and trained to harness their potential and that of the tools which help provide the best personalised service. With the mechanisms in place and the skilled staff on hand, you can achieve and even exceed customer expectations, and drive loyalty and customer retention.
Getting the basics right is vital for all businesses, from startups to large enterprises. New businesses have the opportunity to foster the right culture from the beginning, meaning bad habits won’t have to be corrected later on. A uniform approach shows a united business, and all organisations should strive for this.
Read more about customer service:
- Five great and five bad examples of customer service
- The secret sauce behind Richard Branson’s customer service success
- Ten barriers to effective customer service
Going the extra mile
Only when the basics are in place is it time for businesses to think about the extra touches that can differentiate their customer service offering from competitors. These measures can make customers feel valued, with research indicating almost two thirds of customers would tell friends and family about positive experiences. When this happens, you haven’t just pleased your customers, you’ve started to grow brand ambassadors – one of the most coveted weapons a business can wield.
These added touches require the workforce to think outside the box and understand the customers they’re dealing with to facilitate stand-out service. Dominos was even able to save one customer’s life after staff noticed he’d broken his normal ordering routine. While personalised service is not always literally a matter of life and death, our research found that for 89 per cent of people, good service makes them feel more positive about a brand.
First class service needs a first class approach
The key to balancing the customer’s expectations of getting the basics right and going the extra mile is to understand what your customers want. Customer analytics can help give management information to front-line staff so they can understand customer data at a glance. In cases beyond solving simple questions, an understanding of a customer’s history with the company can make the difference between a good and bad experience.
Your teams can quickly see what a customer is looking for by using customer data effectively. This means they can effectively get the basics right and answer questions, but also create opportunities for the special touches that drive loyalty.
One thing is key to this dynamic: transparency. Customers want to have good service, and are often happily to share some of their information in return. Businesses that aren’t transparent with how they use customer data threaten the trust of their consumers, while organisations that transparently work with their customers to deliver better service will reap the rewards.
Businesses that have all the information they need at their fingertips, deliver a service that soars. For startups and growing businesses, this differentiator can help get a business off the ground. The key is to harness the information, show your workforce how to use this intelligence, and nurture a culture that wants to do well by customers. Whether you’re a one-man band or an established enterprise, this approach to service is tried and tested to make you a business high flier.
Graeme Gabriel is strategic back office WFO consultant at Verint.
Many businesses are guilty of becoming caught up with sales targets and always chasing the next new customer. Of course, it’s important to keep your business growing, however not at the expense of customer retention.
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