Why does someone choose to stay at the Ritz Carlton over another hotel? It’s because they are paying for the customer service, not necessarily the hotel room. The truth is that anyone can go and get one of the same services that my company offers — in our case, public report processing — for seemingly free from title companies. Still, our clients pay to come to us because they know they can receive a higher level of service, not to mention the efficiency and convenience of a one-stop shop.
While being one of the only firms to offer multiple needed services under one roof does attract business, we try not to rely only on this, and most of our clientele are won over by our ability to pick up the phone, hop in a meeting and respond to a message almost immediately upon request.
No matter your industry, it’s primarily the customer experience people are buying, so it pays to invest in this and think critically about it. Here are some ways in which my company practices customer service that you can implement into your own business.
Internal communication is key.
To ensure excellent customer service you need to communicate effectively with your team and ensure you are not holding anyone back from getting what they need to get done. For example, we have team meetings for everyone on Monday and Friday to map out what we have going on during the week and what to look forward to next week. Internally, collaborating in these meetings helps us move projects along for a faster turnaround time and brings the team together to share stories and interests. We also use a project tracking system to tag team members, set reminders, create automated follow-ups and help with customer service.
Without a strong project management foundation and a collaborative team, improving customer service levels is like getting lost in the weeds. Having these foundations in place helps keep us on track, ahead of the curve and deliver on our promises.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers.
Try to envision the customer experience by putting yourself in their shoes. If you were trying to reach a business about something important and no one was answering the phone, you would be bothered, wouldn’t you? This is a really easy way to lose business, and it’s entirely avoidable. From a business owner or manager’s perspective, you need to ask yourself, what has to happen before giving the customer a callback? How long does the phone ring before someone picks it up? Going through the pipeline from start to finish in the customer’s shoes will give you these answers. The next step is to streamline your efforts.
The most important thing to consider is what the customer will feel while working with your company? Are they going to feel valued or shoved under the rug? If the answer is the latter, you need to reverse engineer the customer experience that you want them to have. Start by having your team answer the phone with something like this: What can I help you with?
Relay that help-first attitude in other areas of your customer interaction. People call because it’s important, and we, as a business, want to take every chance we have to help them.
Why many businesses fall short — and why that stings so much.
It’s easy for businesses to get into the notion of watching their profits by not hiring an assistant or another team member until the demand forces them to. While this saves a couple of dollars in the short term, it can only hurt your business in the long run because, by nature, when people become busy, they don’t prioritize customer service.
Focusing too much on the product but not the service will lead to the same result. While you need an excellent product to keep your customers satisfied, you also need to account for the customer experience. It’s one thing for a customer to be satisfied by a product, and it’s another for them to be blown away by your service and rave about your business to their colleagues.
Many B2B industries work on referrals, and lousy customer service will cost you thousands of dollars of business. Picking up the phone after two rings and responding to an email right away will only cost you a couple of minutes, but it will build trust between you and your customer that could potentially lead to more business. So do your business a favor and invest time and money into understanding the customer experience and enhancing customer service; your business will thank you.