Seven ways of setting and meeting customer expectations at your firm
Competition for new customers is fierce across all industries – and customer acquisition is getting trickier as a result. It’s therefore little wonder why increasing customer loyalty has become such a hot topic among business owners today.
Yet, building long-lasting customer relationships requires more than merely going the ‘extra mile’ every once in a while. It requires a measured approach to customer service – and one that offers no surprises or mishaps.
So, what is the best way to provide the type of consistent customer service that will earn your customer’s loyalty?
Here’s a step by step guide:
- Know what you’re capable of
We all have moments of genius in our lives when we surpass ourselves. But these isolated moments of glory are not really what define us.
Therefore the first step to providing faultless customer service is to take a hard look at what your business is capable of on any given day – including the bad days – and use this as the yard stick before making any promises and guarantees.
- Set expectations
Once you know what your firm is capable of it’s time to take control. Clearly state and communicate what your terms and conditions of service with your customers from the very outset, so they understand exactly what they are going to get from you and when.
Failing to do this often means customers ‘fill in the blanks’ themselves by setting their own expectations that are based on their own experiences. This takes customer perceptions out of your control and is something you’ll want to avoid.
- Benchmark consistency
Knowledge is power and so set key performance indicators – or KPIs – at ever customer ‘touch point’. This will help you monitor your success and improve.
Measuring performance in this way helps identify operational weak spots. It can involve tracking anything and everything from the number of ‘click throughs’ you get from your website, to how often an engineer makes it to site on time. You can then work on improving these areas by applying new tools and techniques – ones that will help you streamline and automate your operation for better outcomes, for instance.
- Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes
As well as analysing your KPIs and company data, it’s also important to look at life through your customers’ eyes on an emotive level as many important purchasing decisions are based on feelings rather than logic.
Customer mapping is an extremely useful tool for analysing potential positive and negative responses to the customer journey. It helps you ‘tap into’ emotional behaviours that may trigger a particular reaction to your business. This could be content on your website that perhaps raises false hopes with regard to appointment bookings, or the time it takes for the sales team to answer phone calls, which could cause frustration.
- Be prepared
Preparing for every eventuality is vital if you want to keep your operation on track and your customer happy.
For instance, how would you respond if a customer complained that an engineer failed to turn up to site with the right tools one day?
With the right policy in place, you could actually turn this situation around into a positive experience for both parties – perhaps by providing the customer with a financial incentive to work with you again, for example.
The important thing here is to empower your staff to rectify customer complaints simply and efficiently and you can achieve this by putting clear policies in place that set out best practice for every possible complaint and scenario.
In fact, complaining customers are a valuable information source, so it’s important to clear a path to the door of your firm and encourage all types of feedback. Just make sure every conversation and point of contact is documented, so that every employee is kept informed and has the power to assist.
Yet, it’s not always necessary to wait for the customer to make the first move. Sometimes people are reluctant or just too busy to take up issue with their supplies but you can turn this around to your firm’s advantage by setting your company apart from the rest.
Setting system alerts and reminders will prompt your employees to follow up on site visits, book in maintenance work or just to check everyone is happy with work that has recently been carried out. Taking a proactive stance on customer service will really make your company stand out and is arguably the most effective way of building an honest two-way relationship with your customer.
- Relieve the strain
But of course, it’s easy to wax lyrical about providing a personal touch, but many companies are made up of workers who are too busy to spend time proactively calling customers.
If this is the case at your firm, then it may be time to consider increasing efficiency by systemising your processes.
For instance, automating workflows can reduce administrative load. It’ll also prevent mistakes through system overload and human error.
This will free up your resources so your staff will have more time to focus on building customer loyalty by going that extra mile, not only once in a while, but at every single opportunity.
Graham Tarrant is business management solutions consultant at EcoBytes. He uses his expertise in ISO 9001 and business management systems to improve customer loyalty for his clients, with the intention of making their business lives better.
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 how we can help you improve consistency at your firm in order to realise your business goals.