Monday, July 14, 2008

Customer Service Basics Are Timeless (Guest Blogger: Lisa Ford)

All businesses -- no matter what product is sold or services offered – are in the business of serving customers; it isn’t rocket science.

Why then, do people have such a hard time being customer focused and providing excellent service?

Lisa Ford is THE customer service expert. Read on for her guest blog commentary -- she makes a lot of sense!

"Today’s new buzz words in the world of customer service are 'customer engagement' and 'customer centric.'

The concepts are very valid and important to create a relationship with the customer. But as I read the articles, I can’t help but think these are just new phrases for the same old stuff that has been around forever.

It is all a reminder that we are in business for one reason – to service and sell the customer. The customer holds all the cards and the customer rules. Seems pretty basic.

So, what do customers want? I am sure the list could be quite extensive however, here are my top five:

1. Do what you say you will do. That simply means deliver on your promise whether that is a brand promise or a promise from an employee. Just do it. Be reliable. You don’t deserve to deliver a lot of fluff or wow if can’t deliver on the basics to start.

2. Be responsive to their needs. Even better, anticipate their needs. So how do you determine what they need – ask and listen, then act.

3. Take responsibility. Walk them through the problem to a solution. In other words, OWN their concern and see it to a resolution.

4. Pay attention to the details. Use their name, call back when promised, choose your language carefully and create an experience because you are passionate about customer service!

5. Remember it is the customer’s time and money. You are not doing them a favor. They are doing you one - don’t forget it.

Customer satisfaction means relying on the basics. They work every time. The problem is we make it all too complicated. Yes, we need customer relationship management strategies, customer engagement and a customer-centric focus. But we don’t have the right to go there until we deliver the basics first.

I speak at many company meetings where the slogan for that gathering is something like -- 'The Year of the Customer.' I always wonder what year is not the 'Year of the Customer?'"

Lisa Ford is a speaker on customer service issues. She is the author of Exceptional Customer Service. More on Lisa’s work can be found at; 770.394.4860.

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