New years are wonderful because they give us the ability to improve, to learn from our experience and then start over and do better. It’s like shaking the Etch A Sketch and being rewarded with a blank canvas to create another work of art. But in this case, the work of art is our business. Use this opportunity to plan how you will improve your business in 2009.
One of the ways to improve your business is to improve customer service. In a recent report, Accenture found that more customers than ever are abandoning companies because of bad service. Now is the time to create (or beef up) your customer service improvement plans. And to help you, here are five Amazing Service Resolutions to get you started.
1. Discover what your customers want.
Too many companies think they know what their customers want. But they don’t. Because they never ask them. Or if they ask they don’t really listen. Or they start asking and listening but they stop, because people get busy and others things take priority. The result is we’re often flying blind with no real idea of why our customers actually choose us over another company.
This is death for a company in the new economy. The most important thing you can do to have a healthy company is to ask your customers what they want. Why do they do business with you? What do they expect? How do they want to be treated? What do you do for them no one else does? What would (gasp) make them leave?
Ask these questions and more. Make this a habit and never stop.
2. Create easy ways for your customers to offer feedback.
Even though you reach out to your customers not all customers will respond. It’s okay, they’re busy and it’s not a priority right now. But at some point it will be a priority.
So be ready for this. Make it easy and convenient for your customers to reach out to you. Let them reach you when, where and how they want to. Develop as many ways as you can to open the lines of communication with them. You’ll know it’s working when those channels start overflowing with customer feedback.
3. Have fun.
Companies that enjoy tremendous customer loyalty offer their customers something they can’t get anywhere else: FUN. They provide them an unexpected, positive experience. They have fun with them. The employees enjoy their work and each other and their customers. It’s not that they goof off or waste time. They don’t. But they find ways to bring fun and joy into their work and they bring their customers along for the ride.
4. Be flexible.
With most things there is no one right answer. There is almost always more than one way to accomplish something. But we don’t always admit it. Remember, our goal is to help our customers get what they want. So we need to be creative. We need to think beyond the first solution that comes to mind.
Being flexible also means being willing to try new things and go the extra mile for customers. It means being a problem solver rather than an order taker. Customers know the difference.
5. Get everyone involved.
There is strength in numbers. The more people you have engaged in solving problems, the more solutions you’ll have. The more people you get involved in creating and addressing opportunities, the more success you’ll have.
We are entering what will likely be the most challenging economy most of us have ever experienced. Successful companies will need to make the best use of all their resources. And your best resources are your people. They deal with countless customer issues, challenges and situations every day. They know your company better than anyone. So tap into this goldmine of information and put it to use.
Take time this year to learn from the past 12 months and look forward to the next 12. Create a vision for next year. What will your customer service look like? How will it be better? And how will that benefit your company? Then write down some real new years resolutions that you will make happen. Do that an you can make next year an amazing year.