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4 C’s of Customer Service

Four words crossed my mind the other day regarding customer service. I call them the four Cs of customer service – Commitment, Completeness, Consistency and Communication. Let’s take a look at each one.

Commitment – In order to give great customer service, there must be Commitment from an organization’s leadership. Commitment must be visible through action. It’s easy to place posters and signs upon the wall, but that’s not the action of which I’m speaking. Leaders should show commitment by leading the charge to determine what great customer service should look like within the organization. Leaders should develop and adhere to core values for the organization Leaders should commit to finding ways to determine what’s important to the organization’s customers. Leaders should become the customer by utilizing the organization’s product or service in order to get the customer’s perspective. The commitment level of leadership should be readily apparent to employees. Leaders should regularly communicate their commitment with the entire organization. Commitment requires action! Commitment is long-term as the organization’s long-term existence is at stake.

Completeness – Following the leadership commitment to providing great customer service is the second C representing Completeness. Once the commitment is in place, the need to ensure that everyone within the organization is on the same page is paramount to the organization’s success. Completeness means that everyone within every department understands their role in providing great customer service. A complete and thorough assessment of the organization’s operations is key to identifying areas of opportunity. All customer touch points should be evaluated for efficiency. Completeness means insuring that what matters to the customer is identified and utilized in developing the organization’s product or service concept. Completeness means identifying one’s internal customers in order to determine how to meet their needs as well. All areas of the organization must be aware of how their everyday actions impact both internal and external customers. Completely commit to providing great customer service!

Consistency – After leadership exercises commitment and the entire organization is completely on the same page regarding the provision of great customer service, the third C of Consistency enters the picture. This C is crucial to the long-term success of the organization. The ability to consistently provide a great customer service experience is what builds brand loyalty. Loyal customers are revenue generators as they are both comfortable and excited to share their positive customer service experiences with others. Consistency means the customer receives the same level of service during each encounter with your organization. Consistency means that no matter which of your organization’s locations the customer visits, a positive experience awaits. When calling your organization, it doesn’t matter which employee takes the call, the organization will strive to consistently provide a great customer service experience. When interacting with your company online, the customer is provided an easy and efficient experience. When issues arise, the organization will look to consistently resolve them in a timely manner. When an organization can consistently provide a great customer service experience, it won’t be long before the word-of-mouth effect takes over. New customers will appear as a result of the organization’s ability to be consistent.

Communication – The glue that holds all of this together is the fourth C – Communication. Now this particular C requires that the commitment to providing great customer service is constantly communicated. It means that the organization’s employees are kept abreast of how well the organization is performing in its quest to meet the needs of the customer. This C means that the employees are given the means to communicate the customer’s perception of the organization to the leaders. The leaders are to communicate how employee ideas for improvement are contributing to the success of the organization. It means that customers are able to initiate communication with the organization regarding their personal experiences with the product or services. This fourth C requires the organization’s leaders to communicate customer needs and preferences to the rest of the organization to insure that all products and services are designed with the end-user in mind.

In this era of multichannel customer service provision, it’s important to make sure that your customer understands how important they are to your organization. Make sure they are able to see, hear and feel what they mean to your organization by establishing Commitment, followed by Completeness of purpose, exhibiting Consistency during all customer interactions and applying the glue called Communication!

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Team Effort at the Resort

During the Christmas holidays, my wife and I took a quick weekend trip to Lakeway Resort & Spa located in the hills of Austin, Tx. The resort allows for a great view of Lake Travis and is absolutely beautiful at night! From the moment of our arrival until our departure, the service was impeccable. Beginning with the spotless parking lot and the greeting at the resort entrance, I felt that we might be in for some extraordinary customer service. Marcus Davis at the front desk provided great check-in service. He advised us of the facility’s amenities, evening events and patiently answered my wife’s questions. Service during the happy hour was provided with a touch of class. After our arrival, we took a self guided tour of the resort. Every resort associate that we encountered wore smiles and proactively offered assistance! The outdoors fireplace was an added attraction on a brisk winter night. During checkout, I asked if the manager was available as I wanted to bring awareness to how a customer feels about the level of we experienced during our stay. Front office manager Jon Moser appeared and was thoroughly grateful when advised of how pleased we were with the level of customer service. When you combine the physical facilities with the great customer service, it’s just fitting that Lakeway Resort and Spa is the January 2013 recipient of my “Now That’s Customer Service!” Award. Great job guys!

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Web Chat – Is Less More?

Web chatting, as an option for customers to utilize for communicating with companies, is on the rise. According to the 2012 Fourth Annual BoldChat Live Chat Effectiveness report, one in five shoppers prefer online chat over any form of communication. In looking to be effective at properly communicating via this channel, one question requires consideration – Is Less More? Is it necessary to have long wordy conversations or are short, straight to the issue chats sufficient for the chat customer?

Studies have shown that most customers choose to experience an organization via their website because of ease, speed and convenience. Forrester Research has predicted that online retail sales will reach $250 billion by 2014. It seems quite natural that customers may want to communicate with your company while shopping online. What type of conversation is the chat customer anticipating? Is it necessary to chat in the same manner that one interacts over the phone? When web chatting with customers, it’s important to do so in short sentences. Get right to the point with your answers as long paragraphs are inappropriate when chatting. Chat agents should possess a high level of product/ service knowledge so that they can communicate in a quick, concise manner. They should be expert navigators of your organization’s website as this will allow for locating and retrieving the proper information for developing responses to customer requests.

Chat customers expect to be serviced quickly, efficiently and thoroughly. Establish chat guidelines for your chat agents. Provide “one touch” capabilities that allow your chat agents to ask repetitive questions and provide common answers with the touch of one key. An FAQ database and cheat sheets are invaluable tools for your chat agents. Avoid information overload when chatting with your customer. Provide only pertinent and relevant information. Stick to the issue at hand! Overwhelming your customer with wordy and lengthy responses may cause frustration, which can certainly create an unhappy customer. Just as it’s critical not to ramble when communicating with your customer via phone or face to face, it’s even more important not to ramble when web chatting your customer. Remember, this is the customer that seeks a quick and timely communication session! Be careful not to lose the personal touch with your customer. While “one touch” usage allows the agent to be efficient, balance that with utilizing the customer’s name during the chat or asking open-ended questions that allow your customer to fully express themselves should they choose to do so. If there is information that every chat customer is required to provide, proactively get them to do so by prompting them to have the information ready prior to their beginning the chat session. This helps your chat agent to be more efficient and possibly may assist in reducing the chat session length.

In the chat world, Less Is More in the quest to provide great chat customer service. The right communication method coupled with the right chat tools and combined with superior product/service knowledge can lead to your customer experiencing a great chat session with your organization!

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The Power of Enthusiasm In Customer Service

A key ingredient to success in the customer service industry is enthusiasm. This component is crucial to both gaining and retaining customers. Whether you’re on the phone, face to face, emailing or web chatting, your level of enthusiasm is apparent to your customer. Have you ever noticed how most customers will mimic your actions? If you walk fast (not too fast!), they will walk fast. If you smile when speaking, they will smile when speaking. If you add enthusiastic punctuation when emailing or chatting, your customer does the same. Enthusiasm is contagious! Here are a few tips on enthusiasm.

1. Enthusiastically Acknowledge Your Customer – Your acknowledgement of your customer is the initial opportunity to put your enthusiasm on display. When you’re face to face with your customer, can they see the light in your eyes? Are you proactive in moving toward your customer or do you wish they would go in another direction? Your enthusiasm for what you do should make it easy for you to reach out to your customer. Can your customer hear the enthusiasm in your voice over the phone? Your voice tone and inflections tell your customer if you’re really interested in providing assistance. Did you know your enthusiasm level is evident when web chatting with or communicating via email with your customer? These two methods of communication can be somewhat cold and indifferent when improperly done. Recently I experienced a computer virus and contacted a repair company’s chat line via my smart phone. I started the conversation with “My laptop has a virus. I need assistance please.” The person responded by chatting “Sorry to hear that! We’re here to help! May I offer our on site service to you? We can have someone at your location within 45 minutes!” This person’s punctuations and word choice led me to believe that he really wanted to help. When web chatting, utilize word choice and punctuations that match how you would exhibit enthusiasm if you were face to face with the customer.

2. Enthusiastically Provide Assistance – I visited a big box home improvement store in search of a home alarm system battery. Right away upon entering not one, but two employees offered assistance. When advised of my reason for visiting, both offered to assist! One associate practically tore me away from the other stating, “I’m pretty sure we have that item. Let’s go and find it!” Now I don’t know if these employees received sales commissions – I was just happy that I didn’t have to walk all over the store in search of that battery! It’s important for your customer to see, feel and hear your enthusiasm. Make sure that the customer doesn’t feel that they are interrupting you when seeking assistance. Eye contact, facial expressions, voice tone, body language and word choice are all important during the service interaction. Ask questions to make sure you understand the needs of your customer. Your customer feels valued when you ask probing questions in order to provide the best solution to their needs. When done in an enthusiastic manner, you contribute to the building of a long-term relationship. I recently presented my “Now That’s Customer Service!” Award to a young man for his enthusiasm in attempting to locate a particular shirt during a visit to a local retail store. He searched high and low in the store for that shirt – with a smile on his face and pep in his step. When it became apparent that the shirt was not available in my neck size, he advised me that he could order the shirt and have it in the store within 3-5 days. How could I turn him down? I was infected with enthusiaminitis!

3. Enthusiastically Show Your Appreciation – Most customers want to feel appreciated after choosing to utilize your products or services. Can they see, hear and feel your enthusiasm after the service interaction/product purchase? First of all, provide an enthusiastic closing to the purchase or service transaction. A heartfelt smile or handshake administered with a touch of enthusiasm can go a long way in making your customer feel important. When ending your phone conversation with your customer, enthusiastically thank them for calling and remind them of how much they mean to your company. Do the same when ending your web chat or email session with your customer. Enthusiastic service coupled with an enthusiastic “Thank You” can endear a customer to your business. Most customers can tell the difference between a scripted (required) and a genuine “Thank You”. Make sure that your “Thank You” is enthusiastically genuine!

Enthusiasm is a powerful emotion. Incorporate enthusiasm into your service delivery experience to increase your chances of creating repeat business. Your customers have emotions. Remember your goal in customer service is to provide a great experience for your customers. Do so by Enthusiastically Acknowledging Your Customer, Enthusiastically Providing Assistance and Enthusiastically Showing Your Appreciation. A great experience produces positive emotions. Make sure that experience is filled with enthusiasm. It’s contagious!

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