10 Key Principles of Achieving Customer Service Excellence

Historically, customer service excellence was reserved for luxury brand experiences only – now, it’s an almost unconscious expectation of consumers. Every reputable company in the service industry should strive to achieve excellence and remain competitive and trusted. However, not many people truly understand what service excellence is. For this reason, in this short article, we’ll be explaining 10 key principles of achieving customer service excellence for your business.

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What is service excellence?

According to Johnston, R. & Clark’s book Service Operations Management, service excellence isn’t about exceeding the expectations of customers. Instead, it’s focused primarily on “delivering what is promised and dealing well with any problems and queries that arise”.

Why is service excellence important?

69% of customers stop doing business with a company due to one bad experience- a shocking figure. However, this is why you need to consider that not only are customers attracted to your brand for your products or services but will stay for a good customer experience. More so, if you exceed their expectations – they’ll remain loyal, recommend you to others and be long-term trusted advocates.  

Service excellence can also lead to viral word of mouth – an excellent method of creating awareness around your brand and business. Ultimately, service excellence should be an essential aspect of your operation, allowing you to become a key differentiator and get ahead of the competition. 

Why it PAYS to achieve service excellence

Contrary to many other business areas, where you may opt to train staff in complex concepts formally. Service excellence is something that you can cultivate by developing a good company culture, setting a vision and resonating the mission of your business to employees. For this reason, it’s highly cost-effective and can grow the motivation of your team.

10 Principles of achieving customer service excellence

Here are the 10 principles of achieving customer service excellence:

1. “It’s not my job”

Service excellence is going above and beyond for your customers, so you should be prepared to help in any way that you can. Not only is the phrase, it’s not my job! Unhelpful and frankly unprofessional – it’s simply not true. Everyone who works for your company has a duty of care to their customers and are all responsible for the positive experience they have with you. 

2. Ask for feedback

Customer feedback is the holy grail of unique insights about your service. More so, it’s used to measure customer satisfaction, learn about customer behaviour changes, and identify areas that need immediate improvement.

3. Respond to feedback

Responding to feedback is vital, especially if it’s a complaint because it gives you a window of opportunity to repair the problem before it gets worse. Not only that, but it proves to the customer that you’re listening and that you are ready to take immediate action to rectify their problem.

5. Impeccable product knowledge

It may seem obvious, but achieving customer service excellence stems from having a robust product knowledge. In fact, how can you suggest the right product to solve your customers’ problem if you don’t know how they work, their benefits and their features? More so, by studying your companies products and services, you can gain a closer understanding of your customers’ experience, ultimately positioning you as their strongest advocate.

6. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of someone other than yourself – it can even be developed and improved over time. It’s a vital customer service skill because your ability to empathise with a customer and craft a message that steers them towards your solution is invaluable. For this reason, you need to practice empathy to understand your customers’ frustrations and challenges to overcome their hurdle together.

7. A great first impression

The first thing anyone notices when they enter a business place is your attitude – think about it as if it were wet cement. You only have a short amount of time to make a great impression before it sticks – so it better be positive!

8. Position other employees well

You should always speak well of your co-workers, departments, and of course, your business as a whole. Not only does it fill the customer with confidence in your brand and service, but they also feel assured that they’re receiving the best because you’re all working together to provide a positive experience – and you believe in it.

9. Add value with extras

Everyone loves to feel unique, valued and cared for – why not extend this to your customers? All you need to do is give small tokens to enhance your customers’ experience, such as waiving a fee, charging less than the estimate or adding in a little something extra.

10. Learn how to recover

We all know that things don’t always go as planned, but to achieve service excellence, you need to overcome these situations and recover well. Therefore, let the customer express their frustration, confusion, or dissatisfaction so that they feel heard and valued. Then, when appropriate, apologise for the inconvenience caused and ask how you can amend the situation.

Turn “I’m just looking” into “Can you tell me more about this product?”

SOCO’s retail sales training program is designed to equip participants with knowledge and application skills to better approach customers, ask probing questions, make practical demonstrationsrespond to objections and close sales.

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