Five ways to improve customer service – and your revenue
Keeping your customers happy and engaged long after the first sale has been reached builds customer loyalty. And servicing an existing client is far easier (and costs less) than selling to a new one. Keeping customers longer has a direct impact on your bottom line.
Every one of your clients need attention but to effectively nurture ongoing relationships with customers after the sales process has been completed needs planning.
Strategy + Business has complied five basic principles which can help shape service-design initiatives, evaluate proposals and programs and bring coherence to a service strategy.
1. The customer is always right — provided the customer is right for you. You have to decide which customers you want, and which you don’t. A customer who demands a level of service, a type of product or a price that you aren’t willing to deliver is the wrong customer for you. Deciding which customers you are willing to engage with and what you are willing to do for them is a powerful exercise in defining your brand.
2. Don’t surprise and delight customers — just delight them. You delight your customers by meeting their needs within the expectations they have for whatever you are offering, whether those expectations are high or low. A well-designed service is predictably excellent. If they don’t know what to expect from you, why will they seek you out? If their expectations aren’t met, why will they stay or return?
3. Great service should not require heroic efforts by you — or the customer. Service design and delivery should be efficient, effective, scalable, and, if not error-proof, error-resistant. Employees should not need to be superheroes, bend the rules, or take shortcuts to give customers the experience you promise. Saving the customer time and money is just as important as saving yourself money. It is easy for a customer to interact with and do business with a well-designed company at every stage.
4. Service design and delivery must be coherent across all platforms. Wherever you choose to play, you have to play well. If you provide a fabulous customer experience in the store but your website frustrates customers, you will likely lose them. The task of managing services has become immeasurably harder as Web and mobile devices have multiplied the number of channels, touch points, and opportunities for interaction between companies and customers. This means more complexity, less control, more ways to make errors, and increased competition. It also means more ways for customers to find you and opportunities to woo, wow, and win them.
One corollary is that partners that provide complementary services are as much a part of the service value chain as your own touch points, platforms, and channels. Overcoming or compensating for flaws in your partners’ service design can be your single biggest challenge.
5. You’re never done: Anticipate, create, innovate, iterate — and repeat. Many services companies have no formal innovation process, and the methods, structures, and protocols for product innovation often fail in services. But because the life cycle of a service needs to be managed as carefully as the life cycle of a product, companies must work to instill and support an innovative culture. Be aware that services innovation can happen anywhere in the value chain —co-creation and innovation with actual customers in the wild are just as valuable as research in the lab, or more so.
Marketing for CEOs recommended best practice:
· Someone in your business is responsible for prospects when they become clients.
· You understand why you’re over- or under-servicing clients.
· You regularly review your client engagement strategies.
· You always ask: ‘What else can clients buy from us?’