Many companies strive to create an atmosphere of service, as satisfaction with a company is critical to successful customer relationships. Managing this aspect of a business involves time, dedication and effort to find out what customers need and want so that you may give and maintain the highest level of service. Involving the entire company, from representatives on the front-line to all levels of management, helps everyone stay current concerning customer service goals, policies and procedures.
Achieving Quality Customer Service
Develop a customer service plan and write down your goals, which differ for each business model. Generally, goals may include fulfilling orders within a set time frame, making sure every customer complaint and problem is resolved, improving the quality of customer relationships and increasing repeat business.
Survey your customers. Develop questions and a rating scale to help you assess customers' perceptions of your company and what level of service they feel is important. Write questions asking customers to rate employees' courteousness, helpfulness and length of time the customer waited for assistance. Write questions that ask about the type of service or support customers prefer. Develop open-ended questions so you may obtain accurate answers. Conduct mini-focus groups or telephone, in-store or direct-mail surveys to get answers to your questions.
Institute training programs for new hires, front-line employees and customer service managers. Cover appropriate employee-customer interactions, maintaining a positive attitude and going the extra mile to make customers happy. Focus on topics that you found to be important as a result of your surveys. Instruct managerial staff on practical solutions to common customer disagreements, such as authorizing product refunds or otherwise compensating customers.
Monitor employees' customer service behavior. Develop a list of metrics to measure employee performance. Create a simple rating scale and include list items that describe employees' behavior, such as greeting and acknowledging customers, tending to customers immediately, eye contact with customers and overall work attitude. Add this list to the performance plans of applicable employees at their next review.
Make follow-up phone calls to customers. Ask them about the quality of service that they received in your store or business and comments on issues, services or products. Give them a chance to voice their opinion. Record customer responses and take note of those which indicate that your customer service needs improvement.
Establish communication channels with customers. Place customer service telephone numbers, contact names, email addresses and mailing addresses in high traffic locations in your store or business. Create customer complaint cards and leave these where they can be found, such as near exit doors or tables.
Maintaining Quality Customer Service
Measure your company's customer service efforts regularly. Send out questionnaires and surveys to customers concerning recent transactions. Set aside time to read survey results. Make a list of recurring customer service issues, if any.
Schedule monthly or bi-monthly customer service seminars for employees. Address customer service issues that need improvement. Create a rewards program to motivate employees to improve their interactions with customers.
Review your customer service plan on a regular basis. Compare your written goals to responses from customers and to employee performance. Readjust goals, as necessary, writing down what you hope to accomplish by the next review.
Matthew Schieltz has been a freelance web writer since August 2006, and has experience writing a variety of informational articles, how-to guides, website and e-book content for organizations such as Demand Studios. Schieltz holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He plans to pursue graduate school in clinical psychology.