How to Improve Customer Service
Research shows that if we receive good customer service, we’ll tell two or three people. Word of mouth recommendations and referrals are often key drivers of new business. But – if we get poor service, we’ll tell ten to twelve others!
With that in mind, here are 18 practical tips on how to improve customer service in your company:
- Understand customer needs
The more you know about your customers, the more you are likely to understand customer needs and expectations and find the right ways to achieve outstanding customer service.
Read more about understanding customer needs.
- Seek and analyse customer feedback
Don’t make assumptions; look for ways to find out what your customers think about the organisation. Be radical – invite them in to help you identify what you could be doing better.
Read more about meeting customer needs.
- Delight your customers with WOW! moments
Nothing is more powerful than going out of your way to give a customer something that they were not expecting or anticipating from you. This will help to raise your credibility within the local and on-line communities, through positive feedback and referrals.
Read more about delighting your customers.
- Invest in customer service training
Choose a provider who will really get to know your business and who can support your business strategy and service standards. Develop your own short internal customer service training sessions to raise the importance and get your employees really involved.
See Customer service training ideas for more information.
- Set and communicate clear standards
Set standards in terms of quality, accuracy, behaviour, appearance and good customer service. Staff need to know what you expect from them. Ensure that the service is consistently good, in every location, from everyone, every day.
- Capture and share examples of really great service in your organisation
This helps build best practice whilst giving recognition to the individual who delivered the exceptional service and encourages more staff to ‘go the extra mile’.
- Build your processes around the customer, not the organisation
Follow your customer’s journey, from finding you to using your service and products, to billing and after sales support. Look for ways of streamlining the processes at each stage of their journey.
For more information see creating customer focused processes.
- Go ‘back to the floor’
Shadow people in the organisation. See how your systems and processes affect the customer, and see what obstacles get in the way of good customer service.
- Track and analyse errors and complaints
Get to the root cause to find out what’s going wrong and why. Involve people in improving processes to prevent recurrences. Undertake remedial training and coaching.
- Send staff out as ‘mystery shoppers’ to your competitors
Let them see for themselves what others are doing. Get them to share their experience and see what best practice you can adopt and what ideas you can steal.
For more information see introduction to mystery shopping.
- Have regular internal customer service sessions with cross sections of staff
Your staff are at the sharp end, and they’ll have lots of ideas on how things could be improved.
Encourage them to think of what can be done to provide the ‘wow factor’ – use the creativity of the group to brainstorm and think outside the box for less obvious suggestions.
- Consider setting up customer service awards
Implement a simple award scheme where individuals, colleagues and customers can nominate team members who demonstrate exceptional customer service.
- Treat staff as you treat your customers
Behaviour breeds behaviour and happy staff lead to happy customers. We’ve probably all experienced staff that look and sound completely fed up, and they’re the worst ambassadors.
Give them the opportunity to experience life as one of your customers. They will feel highly valued, share great insights and help you improve your customer service.
- Pay attention to those who don’t serve customers directly
The chances are that if they’re not serving a customer, they’re serving someone who is, and these people are their ‘internal’ customers. Provide opportunities for your support staff to interact with customers so they provide improved services.
- Build a team culture
Emphasise that everyone is a link in the chain and that everything they do should be focused on delighting the customer.
See our tips on building high performance teams.
- Set measurable objectives around improved customer service
Be sure to cascade them across the organisation, ensuring every team member has a role to take in improving customer service as part of your business strategy.
- Review individual performance regularly
Undertake regular performance reviews, not just during the annual appraisal. Give feedback about what’s going well, as well as coaching for areas needing development.
See performance appraisal methods for help.
- Recruit the right people
Use effective selection techniques, and invest in staff training. To the customer, whoever they’re dealing with IS your company. Are you measuring the right behaviours and attitudes that achieve high levels of customer service within your selection process?
Read other customer service articles in this guide. Listed in order of popularity:
- Customer service training ideas
- Handling customer complaints
- Dealing with difficult behaviour
- Developing a customer service training programme
- Understanding customer needs
- Meeting customer needs
- Delighting your customers
- Empowering your staff to support customers
- Engaging with customers
- Creating customer focused processes
- Introduction to mystery shopping
At KSL Training, we adopt a holistic approach to customer service, helping you to achieve your business strategy and customer service standards. We offer a practical half-day or one-day day customer service training course that will teach you how to improve customer service, at every level of your organisation. Alternatively, contact us to discuss a tailored customer care training programme for your business or organisation.