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Do You Have a Customer Service Management Strategy?

Do You Have a Customer Service Management Strategy?

Find the customer service strategy that’s right for your business, evaluate its key points, and pay attention to how the quality of your customer service impacts your sales.

“We treat our customers like family” is a lovely sentiment, but it’s much too broad to be a customer service strategy, especially for larger customer service departments.

An effective customer service management strategy is essential for the growth of a business; it sets the tone for how customers are treated. In most cases, a happy customer is a loyal customer. It doesn’t matter how great your product or service is. If a customer isn’t happy with the level of care your business offers, they’ll look for a similar product elsewhere.

How, then, do you turn well-meaning phrases like “the customer is always right” into actionable expectations for customer service? Read on to learn useful tips for the ever-changing customer service industry. This guide will help you develop a customer service management strategy that guarantees the consumer will be put at the forefront of your business.

1. Create a mission statement that defines how you make customer service a priority.

A mission statement “articulates a company’s purpose.” Once it’s written or updated, explain the statement to your employees and, when applicable, provide training on how to enforce it in their day-to-day responsibilities. A mission statement that’s written down but not an active part of how the company is run is useless; your employees need to understand its value and know how to apply it in their own roles, and your customers need to see it in action when they reach out for customer service.

Consider publishing the statement on your website and on marketing communications so your customers continue to understand your dedication to them. Discuss it in department meetings and ask your customer service team if they feel it’s easy to do their jobs with the mission statement in mind.

For inspiration, take notes from these four customer-centered mission and value statements.

  • American Express: “We’re here to help our customers and their communities thrive. That means putting our service ethic to work enabling communities to prosper, and assisting when a helping hand is needed.”

  • Nordstrom: “Since 1901, we’ve been committed to providing our customers with the best possible service — and to improving it every day.”

  • Great Canadian Gaming Company: “Our mission is to provide outstanding experiences to our guests, rewarding opportunities for our team, and superior value to our shareholders.”

  • Salesforce: “Our success depends upon our customers’ success.”

2. Ask for reviews of your current level of customer service.

You don’t know exactly what you need to work on if you’re out of touch with how your customers currently view your business. Getting current reviews is a great way to start improving your customer service strategy. For all you know, if you’ve only recently created your mission statement, you may already be enforcing some of its core values without realizing it.

By asking for reviews and feedback, you’ll save time by learning exactly what your customers are looking for, instead of trying to guess and then make amends later on. For example, if your current customers report long wait times when calling your customer care number, you may want to consider hiring more employees or switching to a phone automation service. Only when you know what your customers would like improved can you take steps to make those value-driven improvements.

3. Take your customer feedback and list the processes that impact customer service. Then improve those processes.

To use the previous example, time spent responding to customer inquiries is one process that directly impacts customer service (and it has several metrics to prove it). Other aspects of the customer experience, including time spent taking orders, delivery times, website functionality, manufacturing processes, product development, integration issues, the sales process, and more all impact customer service outside of your service department’s scope.

Your customers can often point you directly to processes that need improvement, but by creating a list of all the processes that have the biggest, most direct impact on customer satisfaction, you’ll have a good overview of areas that could use improvement. Then, get together with your customer service team to brainstorm ways to make these processes faster, more seamless, and more customer-centered.

If you get stuck during the brainstorming process, consider researching companies that are known for exceptional customer service. Use their methods to set the bar for your own processes, create a list of standards, and refer back to these expectations frequently when updating your own strategy.

4. Train your employees in customer service.

It takes experience and training to know how to handle customers, especially unsatisfied ones. And not all employees are going to come into their jobs with years of customer service experience, so they’re going to need training. Even employees with experience should receive the same level of training, both on your company’s mission statement and how you want them to handle different situations, because businesses may approach customer service differently.

Provide detailed training sessions. Those sessions may include lessons on:

  • Phone, internet, and face-to-face communications

  • Technology and tools

  • Understanding and navigating the company website

  • Real-life customer service scenarios

Also offer training refresher courses from time to time so employees don’t forget the small details in your processes, and don’t forget to ask for feedback at the end of the training sessions. Find out what employees found most or least helpful, then use their feedback to revise your training methods. Your goal is to ensure that your employees see value in their training.

5. Reward employees who provide excellent customer service.

Another way to help your employees see value in customer service training is to reward those who are successful in implementing what they’ve learned. Just about everyone likes to be acknowledged for a job well done, so don’t underestimate the power of positive feedback, acknowledgment, and appreciation.

The concept of the employee of the month goes back decades, but it’s still relevant today because, when done well, it works. People like to be recognized for their hard work and achievements. Whether it’s through an award ceremony, a picture on the wall, a company-wide email, a monetary or gift incentive, or something else, make sure to honour those who embody your company values.

Whether you choose to have an employee of the month or to implement another reward system, providing positive reinforcement for excellent customer service gives your team something to work toward and encourages them to provide quality customer care. Disney, for example, reportedly has nearly 200 different employee recognition programs. “Defined as any tangible expression of appreciation for an employee’s demonstration of the organization’s desired behaviors, recognition can be empowering, often propelling people to increasingly higher levels of engagement.”

Find ways to recognize your employees for their contributions to exceptional customer experience. You won’t regret it.

6. Incorporate technology and automation into your strategy.

There’s a ton of business technology and tools that are available that can do everything from help to improve customer service and user experiences to automate processes for business owners in order to save time and money. Companies that haven’t incorporated technology into their customer service strategies are behind the curve.

As a number of brick and mortar stores close and companies move entirely online, businesses need a way to communicate with customers over the internet. Furthermore, many businesses choose to communicate through Facebook Messenger, which also delivers real-time data on responsiveness. Social media is generally a great way to communicate and connect with customers directly online.

Customers expect to be able to contact and receive customer service 24/7. One option is to pay for someone to be available all the time; for companies that want another option, look into artificial intelligence. AI chatbots can operate 24 hours a day and can be taught to answer basic customer service inquiries.

Developing a great customer service management strategy is crucial in order to differentiate your company from your competitors and leave them behind. Take the time to evaluate your current processes and garner feedback to initiate change. Find the customer service strategy that’s right for your business, evaluate its key points, and pay attention to how the quality of your customer service impacts your sales.

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