The disappointing thing about one of those experiences was that the perceived poor customer service was provided by the new owners of a business that had just been purchased.
Now you would think that a business owner in these circumstances would be falling over themselves to provide a great customer experience - the fact that such poor service was provided, well, just astounds me!
This is not unusual, however - if you asked any business owner what was unique about their business, you can almost bet your bottom dollar that their answer would be "our customer service".
Well, I'm sorry to say that based on my experiences, these are just motherhood statements that have absolutely no relevance to what is happening "on the floor". And it applies to all industries, whether its retail, service or otherwise.
So what are the signs of poor customer service? I'm sure I really don't need to spell them out - but given that the majority of business owners don't really understand what great customer service is, let alone members of their team, here are some examples that immediately spring to mind:
- Lack of product knowledge
- Lack of acknowledgement of customers
- Failure to return phone calls or emails
- Failure to truly understand a customers needs
- Lack of courtesy, manners and respect - what happened to the word "thank you"?
- Over promising and under delivering
The good news, however, is that for the minority of businesses that understand and provide a great customer experience, their businesses are flourishing, even in these most difficult times. For the remainder, they'll continue to blame the drought, the recession, the internet - anything or anyone other than themselves. And until they take a good look in the mirror and accept responsibility for the situation, their business will continue to underperform or possibly fail.
So... what can you do?
What you need to do is create a system built around your agreed customer service standards. The beauty of having established customer service standards is that they can become part of the fabric of your business - a critical part of your recruitment and training systems.
Don't have any customer service standards?
Then create some! Look at all points of contact that you have with a customer - let's call them "moments of truth" Map out the process and for each point of contact set in place clear actions to create the experience you wish to provide. You can involve your team members as well as customers in this process.
Document your customer experience steps to create a customer service system and service standards.
It is not rocket science and does take time. However, the rewards are substantial and on going.
I'll finish with one final point - it doesn't matter how good your customer service is, if the quality of what you produce is sub standard, you will not succeed, not matter how good your customer experience is! (Although you may stay in business a little longer)
Do you have documented customer service standards supported by a clearly planned customer experience system?
If not, what is stopping you?
I'm interested in any comments you may have.