Four Service Strategies That Improve Business

Other than monopolists, everyone agrees that good customer service is a fundamental necessity for the success of his business – great service seems to be synonymous with great companies. Since service is so critical, it only makes sense that you realistically assess your level of service and find ways to maximize it. Here are a few simple but very effective tips for improving service in your business.

1. Develop a Clear Picture of Superior Service.

Providing “excellent customer service” is a great goal, but just isn’t specific enough to generate any real action or commitment. As a business leader, you must identify exactly what it is that you intend to provide. In doing so, be sure to get beyond the platitudes of “fast,” “friendly,” and “reliable” to the specifics of service deliverables, e.g., one-day turn around, twenty-second call waiting, error-free contracts, 24/7 availability, 99% accurate listings, etc., – something that customers deem valuable! Only by defining superior service and communicating it clearly to your front-line people, can you deliver it and delight your customers.

2. Define, Analyze, and Track Service Metrics.

Reporting service results is not nearly as difficult as some make it out to be… provided that clear expectations have been established as referenced in # 1 above. Keep in mind that if you can’t measure it, it is unlikely that you can improve it. To develop useful service measures, determine the “unit of count” for the measure, e.g., hours, days, points, dollars, number of errors, etc., and develop a method of gathering the information. Technologically generated counts are ideal, but if that’s not possible don’t let that deter you. A well-thought-out manual counting process, or a reasonable sample, is much better than no measure at all. Also, when tracking and analyzing the measures, do so with comparisons in mind. Report the result, but also the goal, as well as previous results over a meaningful time frame (week, month, quarter, etc.). Finally, post the results using simple but vivid graphs and charts that don’t just report a number, but really communicate a larger story or condition. As the saying goes – “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

3. Develop Recovery Strategies.

Although we design our business operations to perform flawlessly, it is unlikely that they will ever be perfect. Unexpected events are inevitable and will periodically throw our carefully crafted processes out of control. The best buffer for these events is to have a set of options available for out of control conditions. Options that can be put into action by service providers using their best judgment and acting decisively. Examples might be comp-ing a room night at a hotel, sending a package next day delivery at no charge, returning a customer call after closing hours, giving a customer a free gift for their patience, providing an extra service at no charge, etc. These types of on-the-spot actions tell customers that you’re doing your best to resolve their problem. The extra expense is small, but keeps customers coming back. To be useful, these actions need to be initiated at the point of customer contact and immediately. Demonstrating that you care is always good customer service.

4. Develop a Passion of Support for Front Line Personnel

– Your business reputation depends on the quality of the service provided by the first line of customer contact. Accordingly, you must provide your front-line people with the tools and authority to meet customer needs. Your service providers will thank you if you do – and if you take care of them they’ll take care of your customers.

Whether you’re a one person shop or a multinational conglomerate, these service strategies will work for you. Put them to work and you’ll experience great results!