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14 Best Practices for Customer Service and Support Processes

        posted by , June 27, 2016

Competitive advantage is hard to achieve. There are 3 ways to obtain competitive advantage: innovative products, efficient operations and superior customer service. Guess which of these is easiest to achieve?

Customer service is the easiest way to build competitive advantage. Incorporating these 16 principles into your customer service processes will ensure a moat of customer loyalty around your business:

1. Ask only once

Never ask a customer for the same data twice.

2. Keep promises

Never make a promise to a customer that you can't deliver. Better yet, under promise and over deliver.

3. Answer the phone

Customers don't like talking to machines — customers who are looking for self-service will use your website.

4. Don't push channels

Some customers prefer phone, others prefer web. Some customers prefer mail, others prefer email. If a customer calls you — don't try to push them to the web.

5. Establish a customer bill of rights

Create a comprehensive list of customer rights and publish it. Ensure that employees are empowered to deliver in accordance with customer rights. Make all customer facing processes compliant with customer rights. Discipline employees who violate a customer's rights.

6. Treat complaints as opportunities

It is a well known phenomenon of customer service: angry customers can be turned into your biggest supporters. All you need is a diligent, fair and timely complaint resolution process.

7. Single point of responsibility

The first point of contact must be responsible for seeing a customer request to completion. Never bounce customers from one department to another or make them drive your processes.

Example: A customer walks into a car dealership and asks Bob in the service department a sales related question. Bob doesn't know the answer — but leads the customer to the sales floor and stays with the customer until he can find a sales representative.

8. Respect the Customers Time

When a customer calls you — don't play them a long messages advertising your products. If you want customers to fill out a survey — compensate them. Timely service is key to customer satisfaction.

9. Keep it Simple

Any information flowing to the customer should be simple. A confused customer is an unhappy customer. (common pitfall: confusing prices and bills)

10. Inform

Never keep your customers in the dark. If you have information that might be relevant to a customer — share it.

Example: If an order is delayed — contact the customer to apologize citing the reason for the delay and the new delivery date.

11. Employee Engagement

Customer service excellence will prove elusive if employees are not engaged. Provide frequent recognition to employees who excel at customer service. Involve employees in continual process improvement. The goal should be to instil a sense of pride and ownership in employees.

12. One Step Further

Take customer service one step further than your competitors (or what your customer is expecting).

Example: when a customer asks where something is — walk them there.

13. There is no cost benefit analysis for customer service

Premium service is fine. However, the true measure of customer service is how well you treat your smallest customer. Customer service must be engrained in your organizational culture.

Customer goodwill is sure to generate future profits — be patient.

Example: a café that is hospitable to students who buy one coffee and then study for four hours.

14. Meassure more than positives

Customer surveys should be structured to identify problems — not to give yourself a pat on the back.

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