Customer Service Systems
The following questions will help you design your Customer Service Systems. Answer the questions yourself, then hand out copies of the questions to your Customer Service people and have them respond as well.
How many complaints do you receive per month or per year and how could you decrease this number?
How quickly are complaints dealt with and how does this typically happen?
How often are complaints dealt with to your customers' satisfaction? Is this adequate?
Briefly describe the worst customer service experience you have had as a customer yourself. How could it have been avoided?
Describe the best customer service experience you have had as a customer yourself. What made it stand out?
What have you learned from these experiences that can be implemented into your company?
How might you integrate Customer Service into your “Circles of Authority”? In other words, what additional authority could you hand your employees that would improve the quality of your Customer Service?
What type of customer service training might you offer your employees?
Customer Service Policies
Customer Service Policies provide the basic rules that guide the flow of goods and services to and from your customers beyond that of your regular transactions. For example, what do you do if a customer breaks one of your products before purchasing it? What do you do if it happens after they have paid for it? Does it matter if it happens inside your store or three days later? Does it matter what they break? Certainly you may need full-fledged systems for handling some of these incidents, but your policies can provide a good place to start and often can be enough by themselves.
As you go through your Customer Service Systems, record your policies. Include examples of the incidents to which they apply.
|Customer damages a product through negligence within 14 days of purchase date||Replace free of charge if under $20 retail. Replace at retail less 50 percent if over $20|
|Customer damages a product through negligence 15 to 60 days from purchase date||Replace at retail less 50 percent|
As we have discussed so many times, systems development is not something you start, finish, and move on from. It is a whole new way of doing business. You'll be reviewing and upgrading your business systems for as long as you are in business.
Specify Your Customer Service Systems
Identify your Customer Service Systems and set their design and implementation dates. Many of these systems will be specific to your business, but the following list should help to get you started.
Customer service recovery system — This system resolves your customers' legitimate problems, concerns or complaints.
Difficult customer resolution system — This system provides a mechanism for dealing with unusually difficult, aggressive, or abusive customers. This system will be linked to your customer service recovery system.
Product installation system — If you offer free installation of your products or free implementation of your services, then this system will organize and implement these services.
Post sale follow-up system — Through this system you will contact your customers to offer any post-sale support. This system will likely be connected directly to your sales system and your customer support systems.
Customer support systems — Your customers may require after-sale help. For example, your customers may need set-up or installation instructions, repair and maintenance advice, operating instructions or help with their safety concerns. Your customer support systems provide these types of services.
List your specific Customer Service Systems.
For people that wait in line, the solution to better customer service seems easy; add more servers or speed up service. While it may seem straightforward, from the business perspective there is an added level of depth. You may have designed a system that can handle 200 customers per hour, and yet you may experience line ups even though there have only been 150 people come through the doors during the hour. Systems are designed with the flow of people being constant, but if all 150 people show up within 15 minutes of each other, a line will be sure to form.
You could pay 150 employees to stand and wait for the next customer to arrive, but that would be prohibitively expensive. You could employee 2 employees to serve all customers, no matter how long the lineups grew, but you would lose revenues due to customers that left because the line was too long and decided not to make their purchase, or survived the lineup but vowed never to return again. Neither of these scenarios improves your bottom line. The answer to the dilemma is in taking a look at real data and creating a scientific answer through Queue Analysis.
Letting a Customer Go
You can't solve every complaint for every customer. Some people are unreasonable and some situations are not resolvable. Occasionally a customer will be so abusive or draining to you and your staff that for the long-term good of your company you'll need to end the relationship. It's a tough decision, but if you think of your company as a separate entity, you will take it less personally and more easily be able to weigh the pros and cons of your decision. Ask yourself if the revenues generated from this customer outweigh the negative impact he has on your company.
When you do decide to let a customer go, do your best to let them down gently. The best way to do this is to personally accept the blame. You may be tempted to tell some people “where to go,” but things have a way of coming back around and biting you when you least expect it. There is usually little value in burning your bridges behind you. Instead, say something like the following.
“It is important to us that all of our clients are fully satisfied with our work. Regrettably, it has become clear that we are unable to properly satisfy your particular needs. Consequently, we feel it would be in the best interest of everyone concerned if a more suitable company were to handle your account. We would be pleased to recommend the services of several of our competitors. We sincerely hope that you find a supplier who is better suited to your needs.”
Hopefully, such an incident will be rare, so you may not need to write a system to handle it. Still, it must be performed with the utmost of tact and civility. If you need to let a customer go, be sure to plan the entire process out carefully, in advance.
If you find yourself in the difficult position of having to let a customer go, how will you handle it?
In this chapter you should have designed, shared, and made a plan to review your:
- Customer Service Systems.