What customers really want (and how to give it to them).
Hear the words ‘customer satisfaction’ and what springs to mind? Friendly staff? Fast delivery? Quality products? All of these things?
Of course, all of these things contribute to good customer service, but the foundation stone of sustaining customer satisfaction – and the thing that builds customer loyalty more than anything else – is consistency.
Consistency is king
Think about it; why do consumers love global fast food chains so much? Do we go to Pizza Hut for gourmet cuisine? Do we visit MacDonalds because of the friendly staff?
But most likely, we will walk into a MacDonalds wherever we may travel because we know there’ll be no surprises when we get there.
In essence: We expect to get our expectations met.
Systemise for satisfaction
It’s true: The one thing that customers love more than anything else is receiving the same, consistent service from their suppliers. In fact, brands are judged on their ability to deliver to the same standards time and time again.
Sure, that first impression is certainly very important and it’s right to work hard on creating an impact on new customers. However, providing a long-term, consistent service is far more important than getting it right the first time – especially if that first time is to be the only time.
So, what are the key ingredients to delivering a stable, reliable and predictable product and service without fail?
Culture of consistency
Creating a culture of consistency requires a business to take a systemised operational focus, as well as consistency with regards to branding and customer relationship management.
In fact, it’s the effectiveness of the processes throughout the entire supply chain that will see you impressing you customers with your steadfastness, rather than the ‘front of house’ activities that we usually think of when we think of good customer service.
There are three key components to operational excellence, which are:
- Establishing procedures
- Implementing systems and tools
- Aligning staff
Let’s look at each of them in more detail:
- Establishing policies and procedures
Drawing up formal policies and procedures is an important step in maintaining consistency at your firm. They effectively act as a ‘roadmap’ for best practice. If you’re ISO 9001 certified then you’ll already know how taking a documented approach to your operation improves transparency and helps you identify opportunities for saving time and unnecessary expense.
Plan out a workflow of your business and identify the key areas that would benefit from strict, best practice guidelines. Then draw up a set of procedures – or instructions – that outline how the policy is implemented and by whom.
- Implement systems and tools
With your policies and procedures in place it’s easier to identify the types of tools and systems that will unify, streamline and automate your operation as a way of improving efficiency and eliminating bottlenecks.
Through storing your company’s data in a centralised place, your teams will have access to all the customer information they need. From resource scheduling boards to CRM systems, today’s technology empowers management and employees to respond quickly to changes and make insightful decisions.
Doing this will have a dramatic effect on your firm by reducing the burden of over-administration – freeing up your employee’s time so they have more to spend on looking after your customers, for instance.
- Align your staff
Once you have ‘nailed your colours to the wall’ with regards to policy and procedures, and have then implemented the tools you need to automate, streamline and unify your operations, it’s important to let every single employee know what’s expected of them – wherever and whenever they are working.
Rolling out a standardised training programme is the first step to bringing your employees up to speed with best practice and procedures. Yet, once initial training is complete, it’s important not to drop the ball.
Store the all-important ‘go to’ resources your staff needs in a centralised, accessible place – means they will have all the tools and materials they need so they can carry on doing the excellent job they are hired to do.
This is even more important if your staff is made up of field or remote workers. Often working alone, remote employees may not have line managers and colleagues to turn to if they need specific help or direction.
Therefore, creating step-by-step processes for your employees to follow which are stored in a centralised system is imperative to motivating staff and inciting them to provide a consistent level of service – which is especially important if they are the ones dealing with customers face to face.
A field management system such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides remote workers with access to customer data, insights and procedures, which can be accessed on any mobile device.
Key documents, client instructions or training videos are available at the touch of a button, meaning your field service workers will have everything they need to provide the predictable, standardised service that customers love to receive.
Easy to use interfaces help field workers report back with regards to time spent on site, job notes and follow up information – all of which his hugely important for maintaining quality and customer service.
More than skin deep
When we think of customer loyalty, we often think about the smiling representative whose sole purpose is to see to our every whim; or we may even think about the loyalty cards and incentives we have pushed at us when we first start dealing with a brand.
Yet, building customer loyalty through offering a consistent customer service is about much more than just marketing tactics and good presentation. It’s about unifying your operation right the way through the supply and service chain so that you and your staff are able to deliver and respond, without ever having to let anyone down.
Find out more about setting and meeting customer expectations in our free downloadable guide into building customer loyalty.
Or contact EcoBytes today to find out more about our customer loyalty workshops.
Graham Tarrant is business management solutions consultant at EcoBytes. He uses his expertise in ISO 9001 and customer loyalty to help clients retain more customers through maximising consistency.