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Tuesday, 09 November 2010 18:23

Empowering Customer Service

Written by Lawrence Zolnowski

Empowering Customer Service

Every business wants to offer top-notch customer service. Satisfied, happy, and repeat customers are key to all business success. Studies have shown that 25% of satisfied customers will tell others about your business. This creates a great army of ambassadors who are selling your business, at no additional cost to you. It pays to “be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning…”(Luke 12:35 NIV).
Every business wants to offer top-notch customer service. Satisfied, happy, and repeat customers are key to all business success. Studies have shown that 25% of satisfied customers will tell others about your business. This creates a great army of ambassadors who are selling your business, at no additional cost to you. It pays to “be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning…”(Luke 12:35 NIV).

However, 58% of unhappy customers will also tell others about you, and that creates a big drag (study by Sales and Practice Company). To ensure that you deliver dependable service, consider these three principles:
#1 — Empower staff to deliver service by allowing them to make decisions right there on the spot. I received a poor meal in a restaurant that I frequent, and a bad meal is unheard of. After two bites, I asked for something else, but the waiter needed to get the manager’s approval before he could make the change, and this took more time than necessary. I was thinking, “Why is this even an issue?” It would have been better to just allow the server to promise something else than to make any customer wait for the decision. Jesus said, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary…” (Matthew 5:25 NIV), and that certainly applies here. The more prompt your resolution, the happier your customers.
Empowerment also encourages employees to work through issues and resolve problems. Consider training staff to work through service issues rather than just passing the call off to someone else. Call centers have service problems that many companies need to address. For example, when the first contact reaches a point of needing to transfer you to someone else, that first person should stay on the call until you are successfully transferred and the problem outlined and taken care of. Getting passed around until the call is cut off is no way to treat customers.
#2 — Resolve possible long-term issues by encouraging staff to anticipate follow-up problems. Several years ago, I was ordering a propane conversion kit for a dryer and as I placed the order for the part, the service representative told me that often another fitting might be needed. He was correct, and his little bit of advice saved me aggravation and a second service call. Rather than just getting the sale done as quickly as possible, take the time to ensure that all known issues have been addressed. This will increase customer satisfaction and reduce repeat calls to your business. King Solomon observed, “The end of a matter is better than the beginning…” (Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV), and we all like resolved issues. Create a culture that truly takes care of issues with customers, and that will be a blessing for you and the customers.
#3 — Address the emotional side of customers. When you are resolving something, it is easy to miss the emotions of people. You may have fixed the trouble, but if the customers are still uneasy, then they won’t be happy. Some examples of phrases that trigger apprehension rather than confidence include, “This should work” and “I think this will go out on time” and “This will probably do the trick.” That isn’t what your customers want to hear. Instead, when you are confident, say, “This will work” and “The part will ship today” and “I am certain this will work.”
Additional words that trigger a negative response include: “we can’t,” “we won’t,” and “no.” When you confront service issues and are told, “We can’t do that,” aren’t you really thinking, “You could do that if you wanted to, but you simply don’t want to, or the cost is too high, or the burden is more than you want to bear.”

A curt “we are out of that product” will not bring customers back, but a polite “we expect to have that item next week” will bring them back. Give your customers alternatives, not just a simple “no.” King Solomon wrote, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11 NIV).
The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “When I called, why was there no one to answer?” (Isaiah 50:2 NIV). When your customers call, answer quickly and answer well. Then you will create a large sales force of people who are out there telling others about your good service.

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