SURFING YOUR WAY TO BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE Tricia Johnson, Institutional Advancement Southeastern Illinois College
Questions for Participants …… 1. What does customer service mean to you? 2. How are you defining customer service at your institution/department? 3. Even more important, how do your customers define customer service? 4. Who do you consider customers at your institution/department? 5. What is your institution/department’s current approach to achieving customer satisfaction? Is it working? How do you know your customers are fully satisfied? 6. What is most important to your customers?
Defining Customer Service Customer service typically is thought to refer to what we do to meet the needs and expectations of the customer as defined by the customer. Other possible definitions—Customer service is a function of how well an organization meets the needs of its customers. Customer service is about treating others as you would like to be treated yourself. Customer service is any contact between a customer and a company, that causes a negative or positive perception by a customer. Better yet, define customer service from the Customer’s point of view: Customer service is a function of how well your organization is able to constantly and consistently meet and exceed my needs and expectations.
Good Customer Service = Lasting Relationships Average Customer Service = Steady relationships that could be lost Poor Customer Service = Lost Business Here are a few tips: Create systems to define customer service and not rules. Systems make customer service less of a reaction but an action that is defined by circumstance. Evaluate what level of customer service is truly to be expected. Train your staff and provide orientation defining the level of service required at your institution. Create a feedback loop….too many customers are lost due to an impression that their business is not important. A simple thank you card goes a very long way. Be honest and fair, and when in doubt, “the customer is always right”. Customer service must also be viewed as company etiquette. If employees are not treated well, it’s going to be tough for them to treat others properly. Qualify your hires. Customer Service is not difficult if you take every detail into account. Meeting and surpassing expectations will only come from people who have created environments to do so. Create systems that generate guaranteed predictable results!
WOW FACTOR • The next wave in customer service – handling the unexpected creatively • Great Customer Service involves several important things: • The institution CARES • They EMPOWER their staff to handle situations • EXCEED EXPECTATIONS • Pay attention to DETAIL • COURTESY • Treat each Customer like a VIP • Making resources AVAILABLE to all • Meeting the NEEDS of the individual • Providing for SERVICE recovery • Treating fellow employees like Customers • A good job doesn’t cut it anymore…….the prize goes to the TRAIL BLAZERS.
First Contact: The Source of Customer Loyalty • “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless: Customer Loyalty is Priceless”…..Jeffery Gitomer states is the paradigm shift • The next step is to shift the focus from loyal customers to loyal employees. • The foundation for a loyal relationship begins with the employee.
Identify your team’s STRENGTHS: • Identify your team’s strengths by listing the things your employees and customers say your organization does well. • Identify strengths your organization should develop by listing the things you would like your team members and customers to say you do well.
It doesn’t take money to get good customers, it takes commitment…. • How do we get this level of commitment from employees? • Get Excited—the first professional to motivate is YOU! • Hire motivated people—”hire smart or manage tough” • Indoctrinate new staff into the customer service culture during orientation. • Measure – Measurements motivate in different ways. • Institute profit sharing – What gets rewarded gets repeated.
The Ten Commandments of Great Customer Service! Know who is boss Be a good listener Identify and anticipate needs Make customers feel important and appreciated Help customers understand your systems Appreciate the power of “YES” Know how to apologize Give more than expected……….ALWAYS EXCEED EXPECTATIONS Get regular feedback Treat employees well –--- Internal Customers…..(provide a regular dose of appreciation)
“THERE IS ONLY ONE BOSS— THE CUSTOMER. AND HE OR SHE CAN FIRE EVERYBODY IN THE COMPANY FROM THE CHAIRMAN ON DOWN, BY SPENDING HIS OF HER MONEY SOMEWHERE ELSE.” Sam Walton
Emphasis is on “Feelings” Customer Service is about the little gestures that make someone feel good and appreciated. Customer Service is the difference between feeling good or great or feeling neutral or disappointed once you walk away. Customer Service is about making people feel good when they are in your presence. Customer Service is about making people feel comfortable. Customer Service is about helping people feel confident. Customer Service is about making people feel important and valued.
The Rising Tide of Expectations in Customer Service • An expectation is a personal vision of the result that will come from an experience. • Expectations can be positive or negative. • Expectations can be stated or unspoken. • Expectations are usually based at least partially on perceptions. A perception is the way we see something based on our experience. • Everyone’s perception of a situation will be at least slightly different. • There are two levels of expectations— • Primary expectations include a customer’s most basic requirements of an interaction. (ie. Answer questions, getting new course developed) • Secondary expectations include expectations based on our previous experience that are enhancements to our primary expectations. (ie. Good service or tasty food, good up-front planning to limit cost overruns)
Service Quality Organizational Gaps GAP 1. What the customer wants vs. what management thinks the customer wants. GAP 2. What management thinks the customer wants vs. what management thinks is being delivered. GAP 3. What management thinks is being delivered vs. what is really delivered. GAP 4. What is really delivered vs. what management tells the customer is being delivered. GAP 5. What the customer expects to be delivered vs. what the customer thinks is delivered.
Becoming More Customer-Focused • Think marketing, not selling (people do not want to be sold on something) • Put yourself in the customer’s shoes at all times • Think about the customer’s buying decision and how you can help them see the benefits of what your institution offers over other alternatives • Clearly understand the customer’s objectives and anything they will tell you about what is behind these objectives. • Use “you,” “your” and “we” more than “I” or “our” in conversations or writing—ie. refrain from saying “our project” when it is really “your project” • Ask the customer, “what is the most important thing to you in our working together?” • Ask the customer for feedback if they are getting their needs and expectations met before, during and after your product or service is delivered • Design your internal processes with the customer in mind • Always ask “what is the impact of our decision on the customer”
Proven Strategies and Best Practices to Achieve Excellent Customer Service • Pay attention to the little things that can make or break customer satisfaction. • Use numbers and facts to prove service quality matters. • Find new ways to make it easier for customers to reach you. • Collect feedback before, during, and after a project. • Set up a customer advisory panel or focus group. • Know what infuriates your customers—what are their “hot buttons.” • Consciously create and build a stronger customer service culture. • Redesign internal operating procedures and practices to better support and encourage customer satisfaction. • Identify what constitutes superior customer satisfaction for each of your customers. • Involve customers in creative thinking and brainstorming sessions. • Calculate the lifetime value of each client to appreciate their real worth to you. • Train employees on the human side as well as the business side of customer interactions.
“THERE ARE NO TRAFFIC JAMS ALONG THE EXTRA MILE.” Roger Staubach
Importance of Words in Customer Service • Words to Avoid • Cut-Off Options • You have to… • You can’t… • It’s not our policy… • Why don’t you… • It’s required, it’s necessary • Make Judgments • Best • Worst • Create Uncertainty • I’ll try • Shut Down Communication • What’s your problem? • Manipulate • Would you mind… • I want (need) you to … • Words to Use • Offer Options • Will you… • I am (organization is) unable because…(explanation) • What have you considered? • It works well when… • Make No Judgments • It works well when… • It may not work well if… • Create Confidence • I’ll do it, or I’ll do this • Get Information • Can you tell me about the difficulty you’re having • Ask for What You Want • Will you…
Importance of Feedback Feedback tells us how we are doing—it is one of the primary ways we learn about ourselves—our strengths that others see in us, and also our limitations or weaknesses that could lead to improvement opportunities. 2. Feedback is a gift —employees need to be properly trained in the art of giving and receiving feedback so that the process is constructive and instructive. 3. “Listening Posts” can be established within a company and in the marketplace to gather critical information that is used to drive decision making about matters impacting employees and customers. 4. If properly managed, those providing external feedback to a company can become “marketing champions”. 5. Feedback is a form of market research. It is also a key tool in measuring customer satisfaction. 6. Customer feedback is a valuable management tool and the most important driver for continuous improvement within a company.
“CUSTOMERS ARE NOW INFLUENCED BY PEERS, NOT MARKETERS: THE CHALLENGE IS HOW YOU CREATE A NETWORK OF ADVOCATES FOR YOUR BUSINESS……BY LISTENING TO OUR CUSTOMERS, THAT IS ACTUALLY THE MOST PERFECT FORM OF MARKETING YOU COULD HAVE.” Mark Jarvis, Chief Marketing Officer, Dell
Communicating Effectively with Customers • Definition: • What describes GOOD service and BAD service? • Good customer service is taking that extra step to help without being asked! It’s all about attitude and skills. • Attitude Checklist • What attitudes assist in providing good service? • Enjoy helping people • Handle people well • Care for your customers • Give fair and equal treatment to all • Be understanding of people with special needs
Skills for Customer Service • Know your organization • Learn the services provided • Communicate well • Be consistent • Be organized • Know your place on the team and be a TEAM PLAYER
What do Customers Want? • Brainstorm what it is that a customer wants when they come to your institution, department, office……….. • Discuss and share with the group
The Communication Equation • What you HEAR…………40% of the message • Tone of voice • Vocal clarity • Verbal expressiveness • What you SEE OR FEEL…......50% of the message • Facial expression • Dress and grooming • Posture/Body Language • Eye Contact • Touch • Gesture • WORDS…………only 10% of the message!
Greeting Customers The purpose is to create and maintain a welcoming environment—how can we achieve this? • Be attentive, acknowledge a person as soon as they appear, even if you are busy • SMILE! • Establish eye contact • Tell them your name • Ask how you can help and provide assistance • Give the customer your full attention • Be polite and courteous…………………
Establishing Rapport What does good rapport feel like? Practice greeting someone……… • Make the customer feel comfortable • Make the customer feel important and valued • Use empathy
Using Your Voice • Do you: • Become loud or angry or upset • Speak faster when nervous • Speak slowly when tired or bored • Have a cheerful voice my tone of voice is warm and understanding • Find it easy to talk to people you don’t know • Control your tone in most situations • Sound bossy, weak or unsure • Have a clear and easy-to-hear voice • Speak in a very formal or very trendy manner? • Think about how you might modify your voice in certain situations….
Body Language for Positive Results • Brainstorm some examples of good body language: • Smile • Introduce yourself (if appropriate) or wear a name badge • Shake hands if appropriate • Lean forward to listen more carefully • Be aware of cultural differences
Telephone Skills • Know how to use the phones • Speak clearly and slowly • Smile (you can hear it in your voice!) • State your name and organization and ask how you may help • Write down the caller’s name and use it in conversation • Don’t say rude things while someone’s on hold • If they are explaining something, use words to show you are listening • Have a pad and pencil ready to take notes or messages • Don’t eat or drink while on the phone
Customer Retention is Profitable • Resolving a complaint within 24 hours results in 96% retention. For each day of delay, about 10% additional loss. • Companies can boost profits 100% by retaining 5% more of their customers. • WHY DO CUSTOMERS COME BACK? • GIVE THEM…….. • What was promised • Knowledgeable help • Prompt, willing attention • Good treatment
Guaranteeing Return Business • Leave a positive impression, SMILE • Check to see if customers have everything they need • If you have said you will follow up, then do so • Tell them something that may be useful to them later (new class, new certification, etc.) • Invite them to another course that is relevant to one they are taking, ask them to visit website • Say goodbye and thank you • First impressions count and will affect the interaction. People make judgments in the first 30 seconds. • GOLDEN RULE—You only have one chance to make a first impression • How does your department/institution make a first impression?
Factors Affecting the Quality of Service • Reliability • Confidence • Responsiveness • Efficiency • Consistency • Institution/Department • Acceptance of and adherence to policies and procedures
Role Play • In pairs, one person takes on the role of the customer/student and one is the staff member in department • Use your own scenario from experiences in your department/institution • Swap after 5 minutes
Organizations that take Customer Service seriously, and approach it with passion and zeal, are the organizations that will prosper and continue to stand out among their competitors. “A lot of people have fancy things to say about customer service, including me. But it’s just a day-in, day-out, ongoing, never ending, unremitting, persevering, compassionate type of activity” Leon Gorman, President of L.L. Bean
If you only remember 12 things… High-Performing Institutions/Organizations Who Consistently Achieve Excellent Customer Service 1. Focus on satisfying internal customers as much as external customers 2. Define customer service based on what it means to your customers 3. Know it is all about enhancing the customer’s “experience” 4. Pay attention just as much to service quality as you do technical quality 5. Know what your customers want and expect and then deliver it 6. Perform as promised and eliminate irritants 7. Recover remarkably when service gaps or breakdowns occur 8. Involve everyone in the improvement process including customers 9. Identify and manage “moments of truth” striving for “moments of magic” 10. Use customer feedback to measure customer service performance 11. Keep the customer front and center in everything you do 12. Put a “service framework” in place to insure desired results
For More Reading on Customer Service Customer Satisfaction is Worthless , Customer Loyalty is Priceless. Jeffrey Gitomer, New York, 1998 Hug Your Customers. Jack Mitchell, New York, 2003 The Loyalty Effect: The Hidden Force Behind Growth, Profits and Lasting Value. Frederick F. Reichheld, Harvard Business School Press: Boston, MA, 1996. Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service. Chip R. Bell and Ron Zemke, AMACOM Books: New York, 1991. Customers.com. Patricia B. Seyhold, Random House: New York, 1998. The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time. Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, PhD., Doubleday: New York, 1993. Delivering Quality Service: Balancing Customer Perceptions and Expectations. Valarie A. Zeithaml, A. Parasuraman and Leonard L. Berry, The Free Press: New York, 1990. Moments of Truth: New Strategies for Today’s Customer – Driven Economy. Jan Carlson-President of Scandinavian Airlines, Harper & Row Publishers: New York, 1987. The Pursuit of Wow! Tom Peters, Vintage Books: New York, 1994. Managing to Keep the Customer: How to Achieve and Maintain Superior Customer Service Throughout the Organization. Robert L. Desatnick, Jossey Bass: San Francisco, 1988. The Customer Driven Company: Moving from Talk to Action. Richard C. Whitely, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1991. Managing the Customer Experience. Shaun Smith & Joe Wheeler, Prentice Hall, 2002. The Ultimate Question. Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company, 2006.