Business success is largely dependent on the happiness and satisfaction of customers. Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, wrote that “The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary.” It is imperative to take the time to develop customer service operating procedures that are sensitive to customer needs while taking into account that those customer needs can change and evolve. How well a company meets those needs, of both existing and potential customers, is a strong predictor of future success. There are a few core aspects of strong, responsive customer service operating procedures.
A standard operating procedures is a set of written instructions documenting repeatable activities taken by an organization. Standard operating procedures should be written in clear, concise language. Use present tense verbs and keep the procedures short, simple and easy to read.
Listen to Customers
Staying in tune with the needs of customers is a fundamental aspect of customer service operating procedures. When a customer voices a need or concern, even a complaint, they want to feel respected by being actively acknowledged. One technique is to repeat back what the customer said in order to reassure them they are heard and to allow them to feel validated. Often, approaching a business with a problem is an intimidating thing so being approachable and building a reputation for being approachable is very important. Active listening allows a business to really get to know their customers. This sort of respect can inform a business what steps to make next in the long-term.
Anticipate Customer Needs
Truly listening to customers is part of what any company can do in order to predict what they will want and need in the future. By customizing its approaches, a business can tailor its customer service operating procedures to suit the always-changing, ever-growing needs of its patrons. One fantastic example of successfully listening to customers is Apple. Products are constantly available for beta testing in order for developers to get a sense of what works, and what doesn't, and also what does not yet exist that should. It isn’t uncommon for Apple CEO Tim Cook to personally respond to customers’ emails. This aspect of customer service evokes brand loyalty, which almost guarantees financial success.
Having clear customer service procedures show that you respect what customers have to say as well as the time they have taken to say it. If there are multiples branches, stores or franchises; the processes should be as uniform as possible. For instance, every Target has a customer service department located in the front of its stores and each return follows a standard process. It’s familiar, and what is familiar allows people to feel comfortable and that builds a great customer service reputation. Being greeted with courtesy and empathy is a huge key to the consistent approach customers treasure.
The level of customer service someone receives will either enrich or detract from their overall customer experience. And they will often choose one store, or restaurant or service provider over another because they enjoyed a positive experience in the past. Making your customers feel respected and meeting their needs and wants with a consistent, empathetic and courteous manner can potentially make or break a business. Excellent customer service operating procedures help make this happen, and make it last for the long-term.