The economy is still suffering the effects of the Great Recession, and businesses have been forced to adapt accordingly. Many companies have to rethink the way they do customer service in light of shrinking budgets and smaller staff sizes.
Customer service is often one of the more economical ways to differentiate your business from the pack. It is cost-effective to offer world class service that will keep customers coming back to you, rather than the business down the street.
We have six ways to make and keep your customers happy in a changing economy.
Do Something Different
How do your competitors treat their customers? What could you do differently to make your business stand out from the crowd?
Finding an edge in a highly competitive market isn't easy, but it is essential if you want your company to be one of the last men standing. Brainstorm ways to make your business different from the rest, and try implementing a policy or two at a time until you find that silver bullet that sets you apart.
Listen to Your Customers
Some things never change, and one of them is the need to truly listen to what your customers are saying. Never assume that you know your customers' needs or expectations; instead, ask them regularly if you are meeting them. When a customer is unhappy with your service, get proactive to help them walk out satisfied once again.
Find Ways to Meet their Needs
Once you have used active listening to identify your customers' needs, find the most efficient and effective solution to their issue. This will happen when you train and empower your staff to provide the right solutions at the right times. Let you staff know where they can bend rules or go beyond policy to ensure a customer walks away happy.
Direct Your Focus
The focus of your business should always be your customer, but this becomes even more critical during economic hard times. Your business was created to serve your target market originally, and no one who works for your company should ever forget that simple fact. Whether you are implementing policies or introducing a new product, always do it from the customers' points of view.
Start Your Service at the Top
Customer service will only be a priority for your company if it is a priority for those at the top of your corporate hierarchy. Everyone in your company should be signed on for the same customer service philosophy, which becomes a large part of your company identity. Whether it is an investment of your time, resources or training, customers should always be at the top of the list of beneficiaries of your efforts.
Incent Your Staff
When the economy goes sour, employees naturally begin to feel insecure about their employment and their financial health. To ensure morale among your customer service representatives remains high, provide incentives for top notch service and other desirable skills. These simple steps can have a profound effect on the overall quality and performance of your staff.
Customer service is always an essential part of a successful business, but during tough economic times, it becomes even more critical. Now is the time to ramp up your service level and differentiate your company from the rest in the competitive market we now work in.
- Meredith Estep