9 Key Principles of Achieving Customer Service Excellence

9 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 should strive to achieve excellence in interactions with customers to remain competitive and trusted. However, not many people truly understand what service excellence is. That’s why in this short article, we’ll be explaining 9 key principles of achieving customer service excellence for your business.

Also read:

What is customer service?

Customer service is how you deliver a direct one-on-one interaction with customers and your company’s representative. Good customer service is about building a relationship of trust, loyalty and satisfaction beyond this first interaction.

However, it’s also about helping consumers find what they need by focusing on accessibility, efficiency and cost-effectiveness to be successful. Overall, customer service is responsible for ensuring buyer satisfaction, increasing the likelihood of repeat business and business success.

What is customer service excellence?

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

So customer service excellence is providing good customer service by satisfying customers with plenty of support and an effortless service experience. It’s a straightforward concept; however, good customer service interactions with customers raise the likelihood of business success, maintaining a sustainable competitive edge.  

Why is excellent customer service 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 is an essential aspect of your operation, allowing you to become a key differentiator and get ahead of the competition. 

It PAYS to achieve customer service excellence

Contrary to many other business areas, where you may opt to train staff in complex concepts formally. Customer 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. So how do you achieve customer service excellence? Read on to find out. 

Also read: Learn To Sell Like A Pro: 19 Best FREE Online Sales Training Videos

9 Key Principles of Achieving Customer Service Excellence

Here are the 10 principles of achieving customer service excellence:

1. “It’s not my job”

Customer service excellence is going above and beyond for your customers. That’s why you must be ready 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. Meaning that everyone is 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.

4. Impeccable product knowledge

It may seem obvious, but achieving customer service excellence stems from having 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 company’s products and services, you can gain a closer understanding of your customers’ experience, ultimately positioning you as their strongest advocate.

5. 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 as 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 hurdles together.

6. 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!

7. 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 it also assures them that they’re receiving the best. That’s because you’re all working together to provide a positive experience – and you believe in it.

8. 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.

9. Learn how to recover

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

9 Key Principles of Achieving Customer Service Excellence Infographic

Examples of customer service

To ensure you provide great customer service, read on to understand what makes a bad customer service experience in contrast with an excellent one:

Bad customer service

  • Long wait times: In a world used to instant and readily available information, you’re ruining your customer service experience by making your customers wait in long queue times.
  • Unable to reach a human agent: We’ve all been there – “I just want to talk to a human being!.” Don’t restrict your customers from reaching your customer service staff. At best, they’ll be disgruntled, and at worst, they will be suspicious that you have something to hide by being uncontactable.
  • Repeating information multiple times: Nobody wants to have to repeat themselves. By making your customers have to repeat information, you show that you haven’t got streamlined processes and don’t value their information.

Customer service excellence

Types of customer service support you should know

There are four main types of customer service your sales reps and business should know about. Let’s explore proactive vs reactive and synchronous vs asynchronous support below:

Synchronous Vs Asynchronous support

Modern customer service support typically relies on using live chat. It’s a one-to-one real-time conversation session considered a form of synchronous communication. Like a phone call, synchronous customer support requires attention and has a defined framework with a start and endpoint.

In contrast, asynchronous customer support like direct messaging or emails can be understood as conversations that start and stop when convenient for participants. They still happen in real-time but help customers who need flexible support while taking other day-to-day activities like walking the dog.

Reactive Vs Proactive support

Reactive support is the traditional standard of customer service support. It is where you wait for customers to contact your business for an inquiry or support issue. In contrast, proactive service is the modern standard and is crucial to customer service excellence. It involves anticipating your customer’s needs, challenges or enquiries to provide answers before they even ask the question.

Conclusion | Achieving customer service excellence

Achieving customer service excellence is not difficult; however, it requires a constant and present focus – a real commitment to customer support. You can easily accomplish this by training staff and ensuring that everyone’s central focus is on how the customers feel.

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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