Ask 100 people this simple question, and you can expect to get 80 or 90 different answers – people will base their answer on their own expectations and experience.
Personally, I think that any interaction with a customer is a form of customer service, because it makes up part of the experience the customer has of your business. Any form of contact a customer has with you or your staff will have a strong bearing on their perception of your business, and influence the overall degree of satisfaction they experience in dealing with your business.
Some of the things you do will affect them on a subconscious level; other times they will be more obvious.
But if you want to create truly exceptional customer service, there are only really three things you need to do – I call them the three golden rules to customer service. They are:
- Rule number 1 – Take the time to find out what your customers expect from you.
- Rule number 2 – ALWAYS meet these expectations.
- Rule number 3 – Always try to EXCEED these expectations.
Customer service is really about satisfying your customers’ needs and exceeding their expectations.
When we buy something as customers, we all have certain expectations before we actually buy from a business.
Let’s look at an example, and see these rules at work…
When your tyres need replacing, you take your car to a tyre fitting service.
You expect that the old tyres will be removed from the hubs; that the new tyres will be put on the hubs; that they will be balanced correctly; that they will be fitted onto the car correctly; that the wheel nuts will be tightened with the correct amount of torque to make sure they don’t come off; that the whole process will take less than an hour; that you will be charged a standard (and acceptable) charge, and that they will be of a similar price and standard as other tyre fitting services.
At a subconscious level, these are all of the expectations you have about having your tyres changed. If the fitting service meets them all, then you will walk away happy, and you will probably return again in the future when you next need new tyres.
Now, if you have been using the same fitting service for some time, then you may have built up some kind of rapport with the members of staff, so should they mess up on one or two of your expectations, chances are you will forgive them.
Perhaps you had to wait longer than usual, or they changed the make of the replacement tyre to a more expensive one and you were unaware of the change until you came to pay. Whatever the situation, it is the level of confidence you have subconsciously in the business which will determine how much you will tolerate.
But what if you are using the business for the first time?
If they fail to make even one of your expectations, it is highly likely you will never go back there again!
On the other hand, if the business exceeds your expectations – maybe by finishing faster than you expected, or maybe they offered a free tracking check – and they delivered on every one of your other expectations, you’re going to go away from there, raving about them to anyone who will listen.
So the real ‘secrets’ here are identifying what your customers expect and then meeting these expectations and, where possible, looking at ways you can exceed them.
You just need to ask some specific questions, e.g…
What do your customers expect when they come to or buy from your business?
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and look at your business from your customers’ point of view. What happens when you make a purchase? What happens if there is a problem?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can start the process of making sure you meet those expectations, and hopefully even exceed them!