Customer service is so instrumental to the success of any business that we are going to dedicate the next two blogs to this subject.
When I became CEO of Westpac Financial Services in 1994 my first “Contact Point” column in our monthly staff magazine focused on customer excellence. I reminded our team that customer excellence, that is, the attainment of raving advocates, will be the key to our ongoing success. It will become what differentiates us from our competitors. I also reminded them that if they felt they were providing superior service currently, to remember the old adage, “You don’t have to be ill to get better,” as a poignant reminder of our obligation to the pursuit of customer excellence.
I then provided them with “The Ten Commandments of Customer Excellence.” I feel these points remain relevant today, and so I have modified them from their original focus on providing financial services advice to being generically applicable to any business.
We will break this into two blogs and provide five today and the next five in 14 days in next blog.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF CUSTOMER EXCELLENCE
1. Keep ’em coming back.
Experience dictates that the only way to really find out what our customers want is to ask. As one sales motivator expresses it, “Give it to them…and then some.” Within your particular business you need to utilize tools that expertly discover your customer’s real needs and then match product and systems to these needs. Ensure you tailor for each individual situation (within reason).
2. Excellent service depends on excellent systems.
Being courteous and friendly is only the beginning of customer excellence. Our systems must be such that they enable us to deliver. This ensures that we can do the job right t he first time–every time. You need to be committed to continual improvement of systems to support frontline staff. Having said that, do not allow staff to blame systems, especially if there are examples of customer excellence being provided by other staff using the same systems.
3. Offer less, deliver more.
Customers come back when we keep our promises. Give them a pleasant experience by exceeding their expectations on a regular basis. In this day and age expectations can be high; “offer less” does not mean reducing your value proposition, it means having a great offer and then delivering more. As an example of providing more for less, we at Westpac gave a commitment to producing simple, cost-effective products that would meet and exceed our customers’ cost versus return expectatio ns…and then delivered!
4. Treat the business as if you own it.
Every person in the business needs to have the mindset that this is my business. If every interaction with colleagues, business partners, and customers occurs with the thought in mind that our life savings are invested in this business, then outcomes will be different. It is a leader’s responsibility to provide the environment where this is possible, and so it has to start with all leaders respecting, valuing, and trusting their team. Make everyone feel special! This will make a difference–when you change your behavior to others they will change theirs. This mindset will quickly improve customer service and the bottom line. A “wowed” customer becomes a raving advocate who cannot wait to sing your praises to family and friends, resulting in a massive lift in referred customers.
5. Follow the “Sundown Rule.”
There is a maxim that states: “If you never hear a complaint, something is wrong.” If this is the case, chances are your customers are complaining to your competitors. We introduced the “Sundown Rule”: on receipt of a customer complaint, we undertook to contact the customer by day’s end–even if it was only to acknowledge receipt and advise them how we would proceed with their complaint. Then we ensured there was a fool-proof diarized follow up system in place to ensure our promises were fulfilled.
Stay tuned until next time, when you’ll get the rest of The Ten Commandments for Customer Excellence. In the meantime, start adapting these to your business, it will really improve the bottom line, and if you have a team ask them for input to see how you can adapt these first five commandments for your business and have them start enacting them!
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