5 Areas to Improve Customer Service

March 2012
Market Analysis & Communications for the Manufacturing Industry

Your customer’s experience with your company can drastically affect how they judge your product. The Internet has made it easier for your customer to compare products, price, service and more, and many companies remain competitive with less than superior products because they offer a higher level of service. Actually, it is believed that customer service will ultimately become the most substantial benefit offered by a company because global competition makes it more difficult for products alone to offer unique advantages.

Several recent experiences in my own life have brought this point home. I rented cars from two different companies, both offering essentially the same cars at competitive prices. In one case the agents were rude and incompetent, in the other, the experience was outstanding – the best I have experienced in 30 years of renting cars at airports. You can be sure that I will never do business again with the first company and will go out of my way to use the second one, even if they are not the cheapest alternative.

In another interesting example, the owner of a pet store we know notifies people who park in his reserved parking spaces that they can continue to park there as long as they come in and buy something.  If he had been aggressive with these parking violators, he would probably have made enemies. Instead, he has made a sale every time.

Here are five areas where you can improve the purchaser’s experience with your products:

  1. Sales/Marketing – presenting a realistic description of what the purchaser can expect. Set expectations realistically then exceed those expectations.
  2. Training/Education – assisting the customer in learning how to select and/or use your products
  3. Accounting/Billing/Financial Assistance – help customers with their financial commitment, managing their account, securing credit, resolving payment problems
  4. Delivery/Repair/Support – delivery people and service/repair technicians respond to questions or problems and handle damaged or malfunctioning products. Make sure that they have a customer service outlook and a cooperative rather than adversarial approach
  5. Complaint Resolution – addressing customer problems immediately and efficiently. Empathize and act as an ally, not an enforcer

Provide multiple touch points tailored to customer preferences, needs and convenience:

  1. In-Person – retail stores and other outlets or salespeople who visit the place of business
  2. Telephone – many companies have a dedicated department or call center that handles customer inquiries or performs Telemarketing (making sales calls)
  3. Company Websites – providing Help, FAQ or monitored discussion areas where customers can answer their own questions or seek advice from other users.  eCommerce modules can be used for certain types of products and provide a key area for customers to experience the company personality and service
  4. Kiosks –standalone, interactive computers, sometimes equipped with touch-screens, offer customers different options to purchase products, review their accounts, check-in with airlines, apply for jobs, and do banking.
  5. Apps – application software that runs on cell phones, tablets or computers provides another way to help customers perform different activities

The goal of your business in terms of its customer interactions is to generate loyalty and there’s no better way to do that than to offer quality products and services and be responsive to your customers. Bad customer service can negatively impact even outstanding products, but responding to your customer’s needs is critical and in the future will be demanded even more than it is today.  Whether your company uses technology or human resource or a combination, investing in customer service will pay off in the long run and positively affect the bottom line.

References:  KnowThis.com, Inc.com, 1to1Media.com