There is no business that I have come across that does not involve a customer. One customer relations professional is said to have told her class that even for a housewife, her husband and children are her customers. In that regard, it occurred to me that everyone who deals with people needs to learn some very basic customer service and customer skills.

Here at Esteemed, there is no way we are going to work on raising the bar of professionalism in all businesses without talking about customer, how to handle them and how to handle ourselves as customers and so much more that would encompass customer relationship management. But not all at one go! Today we talk about what customer care is and some of its very basic background information.

The best customer care that you can give matters more than can be valued in monetary terms – you can go home at peace with yourself that you have been of help to someone and that you have resolved somebody’s problems. Your… Click To Tweet

According to Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer_Care) “customer service is the set of behaviors that a business undertakes during its interaction with its customers”; while according to http://www.iec.org/online/tutorials/cust_care/ “Customer care is a customer service that seeks to acquire new
customers, provide superior customer satisfaction, and build customer loyalty”. (www.flexiblelearning.net.au/toolbox/demosites/series3/317/resources/glossary/gls_idx.htm) says “customer-care is a phrase that is used to describe the process of taking care of our customers in a positive manner. The term is used in place of complaint handling due to its positive focus, and is a reminder that customer satisfaction is a priority”.

Given the business society we have today and what the future seems to hold, the definition by IEC applies greatly.

In taking care of our customers we want to:

  1. Acquire new customers – “The average person who has a bad-service experience tells at least nine others about it and 13% of complaints relate their experience to more than 20 other peoples. In comparison, people who receive an excellent service only tell three or four others about it” according to Research Institution of America.
  2. Provide superior customer satisfaction – this will lead to return customers who will not mind how much they pay for the service as long as you treat them as royalty. Surveys suggest that service-driven companies are able to charge up to 9% more for the goods and services they offer and grow twice as fast as the average. These are powerful incentives for becoming the best customer-service company in any industry. Equally, poor service has a cost penalty. It costs up to five times as much to go out and get a new customer as to retain those we have.
  3. Build customer loyalty – a well-treated customer is one who will always come back to you because of the superior way you handle their business. The doctor who takes the time to listen to your tale of what is wrong with your body and takes the time to explain what may be wrong and what tests he wants to do and what they will accomplish and even takes the time to empathize with you even if it is just a flu, is one that you will keep going back to. If you make a purchase and your supplier simply gives you a quote and expects you to work out the math and other details, then when you give him/ her an order they don’t even bother to update you about its progress, you will have doubts about their quality of work and even though their product quality is good, you will be open to alternative suppliers who even though they may charge more for the same quality, you will be willing to make the extra payment if only for the peace of mind about your transaction.

Keeping existing customers is easier than finding new ones, and satisfied customers will do a lot of our advertising for us. Most people consider doing business with a certain company because of recommendation by a friend or acquaintance. Unhappy customers spread the bad news like bush fire and undermine our business, which ultimately threatens everyone’s jobs.

Bottom line – The best customer care that you can give matters more than can be valued in monetary terms – you can go home at peace with yourself that you have been of help to someone and that you have resolved somebody’s problems. Your self-esteem is raised

Make a resolve today that in being Esteemed, always aim for excellence, provide the highest standard of Customer Care possible.

You don’t need to work in a customer care department to treat a customer well. The outside world is not your only customer.

Here are a few pointers to being exemplary with your customers.

YOU NEVER GET A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION

This cannot be overemphasized. If you disappoint a customer on the first deal, then it is almost guaranteed that repeat business from that customer is a difficult tale to tell. I recently came across a sticker that read, “ We don’t only get it right the first time. We get it right, all the time.” On reflection, that message was in essence saying, getting it right from the word go is something that should come naturally to any person who desires to give exceptional service to their customer. What should then be conditioned into the activity is getting it right all the time. Imagine yourself in the worst state of attire and the look of your future or current mother-in-law when she first sets her eyes on you. You will never ever erase that image from her mind, no matter how many Giorgio Armani suits you wear later on after that first meet.

If we serve our customers below expectations the first time, that is what they will always judge us by and we will have to work twice as hard to improve that image we have created in them. Click To Tweet

KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS

Imagine you own an African buffet restaurant in the heart of Maasai land and there are some tourists from China that have come to visit the area, who have only heard of the sumptuous roasted goat meat yet the best ready to eat meal you can offer them is chips and sausage? You need, as a businessperson, to understand what your customers really
want and what they really value. Why? You may ask.

Knowing your customers forms the very basis upon which you establish and build the character of exceptional
service into your business. An understanding and embracing of this character plays a pivotal role in establishing the procedures and the mind set with which to achieve it. Know what is good enough for your business and the customers you attend to, then seek to go beyond that to reach and take a firm grip on the actions that will
make it a goal to be consistently attained.

By the way, it will not be an instant! But with maintained consistency, the next tag line you will find people using to
your company is “the place where I have no qualms spending my money”

DO NOT SETTLE FOR “GOOD” CUSTOMER SERVICE

Good customer service is more often than not, the level of service given for the sake of getting the money from the
client’s pocket and it isn’t good enough anymore. Exceptional service is what the customers are now expecting. And this by all means, does not come easy. It means using route 11 or letting your fingers do the walking as you seek to know what is top-notch client service. When, with your employees and clients, this kind of service becomes the rule rather than the exception, then you are assured of a long-term relationship with every customer who walks through the door. And they are most of the marketing that your business needs. Anything less, and it’s a disaster.

You need to devise and cultivate a strategy to help ensure that your business matches that extra ordinary standard on a daily basis. Dr. Noelle Nelson, author of “The Power of Appreciation in Business” puts it across beautifully, “Often, being extraordinary means offering someone a truly exceptional experience,” and “the quality of something may be good, but it’s the overall experience that will really define customer loyalty.”

WORK WITH YOUR WORKFORCE

If your customer is impressed by the work of your janitor, tell the janitor, in the very same words the customer used! Click To Tweet

Ever heard the phrase ‘walk the talk’? Saying you want top-notch service for all your customers is one thing and carrying it out another story all together, more so if you do not have the necessary manpower and the established authority. The business environment stops being static when you are dealing with more than one party.
There are issues to deal with such as shifting conditions of operation; employees and colleagues mind-sets, customers’ mind-sets and expectations, market trends, personal commitments and so much more. As a manager or entrepreneur or team leader or junior staff member of an organization, exceptional customer service always boils down to the one-on-one interaction with the customer. Availability of necessary information to the personnel dealing with customers, whether directly or indirectly, impacts on your organization’s level of customer service.

Also contributing are factors such as – commitment (and no lip service) to extraordinary service by management, reward top performance – if your customer is impressed by the work of your janitor, tell the janitor, in the very same words the customer used!, investing in training for the entire workforce to help the team carry out and maintain high performance standards, allowance of a reasonable level of freedom of choice to read a situation and react accordingly; Sharing the information with your employees lets them know what’s hitting on all cylinders. Customer buying habits, particular needs, interests and other data can be stored in a central location and easily shared. As Karen Leland, author of “Customer Service for Dummies“, says, “… creating a lifelong culture for service excellence … helps build an understanding of the concept of service. And that means a top-down commitment. Leadership should set the tone for the entire effort.”

PREPARE FOR EVENTUALITIES

As mentioned before, high quality, extraordinary service is not a simple matter of saying, “I do”. It is a challenging path to follow and only the strong of characters make it through. More so, pretending that it is smooth sailing and that everything is okay when obviously your world of customer service is falling apart is a perfect recipe for disaster Acknowledging a slip up and slight set back is the beginning of a re-commitment to extraordinary performance. For example, if a customer’s order is delayed because the expected shipment was not dispatched on time from head office, go beyond an apology and a normal delivery and a give away worth less than one dollar – if it is an electrical gadget, go the extra mile and install it for him or her, offer your extra services and little but well meaning giveaways like key rings. The bottom line is to let the customer know that you’re sorry for the mistake and build their confidence that it won’t recur. According to Berke, “Build customer loyalty, not just satisfaction … and …when you apologize for problems and really listen, you build a relationship.”

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