Putting Excellent Customer Service in Your Business

Customer service can mean the difference between a successful and a losing business. That’s because more and more customers are becoming more demanding not just in the quality of products or services that they buy, but also in the level of customer service that is offered by the brand or company that supplied the goods or services. There are even cases where customer buying decisions are more influenced by the customer service they expect to get rather than the overall product benefits. This aspect of doing business is actually a big part of your customer relationship management or CRM. And today, there are many CRM tools being offered just to help businesses streamline the way they handle customer service. But you must think that even with CRM tools, customer service still boils down to how you or your people manage customers before, during, or even after the sale.Great customer service in your business can be achieved if you make it a point to take out the unsatisfactory features in your product or service as soon as you are made aware of such things. Consider bad experiences by your customers as the potential Achilles’ heel in your enterprise. Having unpleasant experiences with the goods that you sell will turn off your customers. Worse, one displeased customer will tell other people and, before you know it, your business reputation is in shambles. So, always eliminate product or service features that can bring about a negative view of your company. This is actually the very essence of great customer service, making sure your customers will not have problems with your product or service.

Next, to be able to enhance your customer service in your business, you need to give your customers more options as to how your product or service will be delivered. This has less to do with the way you carry your product to your customer’s household. Rather, choice in product delivery tackles the issue of customizing your product or service according to the preferences of your target consumers. In short, try to provide a spot in your overall business process where your customers can have their say. For instance, would you offer only four flavors of pizza, or would you allow your customers to mix and match toppings according to their tastes? Finally, the bulk of customer service in your business will happen after the sale or the transaction has been done. Your customers may not be happy with your product or service. Or your goods may have failed to deliver your promise to your customers. Whatever happens, make sure that your final efforts of communicating with your customers will leave a good lasting impression in their minds.

Deliver Amazing Customer Service – This Year and Beyond

The start of a new year offers the chance to look back and reflect on the lessons of the year before. In doing so, I have rounded up some of my favorite ideas, strategies and tactics from last year and offer 13 customer service tips to jump start your customer service efforts in 2013.

1. Strive to offer legendary service – Discuss your greatest customer service successes and create your own customer service “legends.” This sets a level for everyone to aspire to.

2. Be a role model – No matter your title or position within the company, you can be looked up to as a role model of customer service. Consistently set a good example for everyone around you to admire and emulate.

3. Know what customers are saying on social media – and respond – Monitor social media and use it to your advantage, even when customers complain. The key is to respond as quickly as possible; fix the problem and then let everyone know via social media as well. Don’t forget to acknowledge and express gratitude for positive comments too.

4. Add value through YouTube – As one of the most popular forms of social media, YouTube is a valuable tool for value-added content. Use it to answer commonly asked questions or demonstrate ways of using your products. All kinds of businesses – including mine – regularly post videos on YouTube. It’s another positive way to connect with your customers.5. In one word or a simple sentence, define what you want to be – When you think of Ace Hardware, does one word come to mind? Of course, it’s Helpful. My goal with customer service is Amazing. What’s your word or phrase? How would you want customers to describe you?

6. Allow experimentation – Employees will welcome the opportunity to find new ways to offer the best customer service. Set a few common-sense ground rules – always enhance the customer relationship, aim for a favorable outcome for the customer, don’t hurt the company (legally, financially, etc.) – then allow employees some freedom to find their own customer service style. Be sure to follow up, find out what works and share best practices with others in the company.

7. Learn from successes and mistakes – After employees are given the freedom to experiment, take the next step and use their experiences as learning opportunities. Realize the value in lessons learned from mistakes, and share success stories. Celebrate it all.

8. Know and support your community – Be “that” business – the one with the bake sales out front on Saturdays, the company name on kids’ sports teams, the first to give to someone in need in the community. Care and contribute. Whether you operate in a small town, nationally, globally, or even online, know your community, and be visible and active in your support.

9. Make it about more than the product – Chances are, you are not the only business selling your particular product or service, so you need to give customers a compelling reason to choose you over your competitor. To be successful, you can’t necessarily offer lower prices to attract customers. Don’t get caught in the commodity trap – distance yourself by offering a superior customer service experience. Put yourself in the customer’s position and ask, “What can I offer that will make someone want to do business with me, rather than the competition?”

10. Consider the entire customer experience – There’s more to the customer experience than just customer service. In today’s world, there are countless opportunities to interact with customers and potential customers. Positive face-to-face interaction is, of course, still important, but you can add value through social media, and consider the concept of gamification – offering interactive games for customers to play. For an example, check out my favorite, Be observant and pay attention – Even when customers aren’t talking directly to you, know what they are saying about you. For example, during a convention I attended, the hotel food service staff served chocolate chip cookies and I told a fellow attendee they would really taste great if they were warmed. A member of the hotel staff overheard this and soon delivered warm cookies to our table. Look for opportunities to make your customers happy.

12. Recruit customers to serve on a customer service board of directors – More than just a focus group, meet with this group of customers regularly to brainstorm new ideas and get feedback. Be sure to compensate them properly for sharing their time and offering their honest opinions.

13. Never forget the basics – Even with all the technological advances and new ways of connecting with customers, don’t forget to continue with the basics of great customer service. Create a customer-focused culture: hire right, train right and manage right, and keep amazing service alive.

One more thing – don’t try to do everything at once. Choose one of these strategies to focus on in 2013. Once you have mastered it, choose another to implement and always keep improving and moving forward.

The Root of Poor Customer Service in Rwanda

Rwanda is a landlocked country, which has achieved impressive development progress since the 1994 genocide and civil war.This country is at peace and among the most stable on the continent of Africa. Rwanda’s long-term development goals are embedded in its vision 2020, which seeks to transform Rwanda from a low-income agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based, service-oriented economy by 2020. Goals and objectives of Rwanda are clear, but one can wonder whether what is embedded in Vision 2020 handout will be achieved.

For a nation that aspires to become a service based economy, it is imperative its citizens and institutions are customer focused.

After their report 2009-2010, IPAR revealed that the root cause of poor customer service in Rwanda are organizations that are not customer centric (focused) and thus fail to put in place policies and procedures, that are aligned to providing good customer service.

Contrary to the general belief that the main cause of poor service delivery in Rwanda is a problem of mindset. After this report many public and private institutions have implemented what was suggested by IPAR,” training staff to be nice to clients, and strongly advised the organizations to put in place policies and procedures in order to be customer focused with appropriate customer service practices”.However, the customer service has improved, but the bottom line is that the needed customer service is not yet achieved. Who is to blame, IPAR? Or our organizations?

Both of them are true, and have reason to make and implementing such conclusions. Because the problem of customer service is not for one entity or another, it is a serious issue that should be taken into account by all of Rwandese.

Our article is based on lack of competition as a root of poor customer service in Rwanda, and establishing the competition culture will be more effective way to tackle this problem. We are going to discuss on both private and public organizations.

Actually Rwandans are welcoming and smiling people, why they don’t keep the same image at work? Is it the matter of laziness or something else?

In private organizations, 71 percent of respondents deliver poor customer service because of they operate without a crucial competitor. They say, “We are lonely in this field, we have our loyal customers and we are not interested by new ones that is why we treat them as we want”. Only 6 percent said we don’t know how to behave in front of various customers, because they come from different places, they behave differently, that is the reason why we behave indifferently.

Fortunately, they are all afraid of upcoming competition. As the government of Rwanda has opened the doors for external investors, restructuring business regulations and laws to facilitate both national and international entities to enter in the business, this is a good and effective remedy for the poor customer service in the private sector in Rwanda. Once the perfect competition will be established, whoever delivers a poor customer service will close his business, and vice versa. They will get time to learn from each other, we expect them to be more creative and innovative in order to put down competitors.

The same as in public sector, the culture of competition have to be established. It must be organized by the Public Sector appropriate division and seeks to recognize and reward efforts of organizations to improve service-delivery to customers; to promote and encourage commitment, and continuous improvement in the quality of service to the public; To encourage former winners to maintain or surpass their standards of service-delivery; To further embed a service culture in the public sector; to demonstrate Government’s commitment to the vision of a public sector that puts the customer first.All Public Sector entities are expected to participate in the Customer Service Improvement programme and they include: Central Civil Service Organizations, Executive Agencies, Public Companies, Statutory Bodies, and Government Departments. In some countries, the competition is now viewed with much anticipation by public sector entities that have been active in raising customer service standards on a continual and progressive basis.

Fortunately, Rwandan government has put in place “imihigo”, where local government competes for their settled performances, we suggest to strongly highlighting the customer service delivering.

Finally, we encourage the government of Rwanda for its effort to enhance customer service through competition and other solutions, as we wish a service based economy in 2020 vision.