Delivering Excellent Customer Service - [Whatever that means :/ ]

Uncategorized Oct 06, 2021

Excellent Customer Service is something we all want to provide. We want our clients to be happy with us.  We want them to recommend us and ultimately, it does say we are doing "it" right. In this post, we will explore how to lay out some ground rules to follow to help you be consistent in your goal to provide excellent customer service.

Developing a Winning Customer Service Policy

Sounds like a great idea right? Well, what if, it isn't as easy as it seems?  In fact, in this business, it often feels impossible to apply the same principles of excellent customer service to each client. Some of my clients are so busy they don't want to be bothered and on the other hand, I have some clients who now see me as their best friend and want to text me at midnight when they are searching through ideas they find on Pinterest.  The truth is, I love creating systems, policies, and streamlining the way we run our business.  I would love nothing more than to develop a foolproof application to deliver amazing customer service to each and every client every time.

Unfortunately, no matter how much I have tried, providing excellent customer service isn't one of those things I have been able to perfect and it really frustrated me until I started to do some research and analysis for this very blog post and I believe I may have found the secret to all my dilemmas surrounding this topic.  Let's break this down a bit.

Excellent Customer Service Definition

While beginning my research for this blog post and as I typically do quite often, I did an internet search to find out the common definition of "Customer Service" is.  I clicked on the first one that came up and here is what it said,
 
“Customer service means going above and beyond to keep the customer happy, whether that means answering any questions they have or resolving issues with a positive attitude. Customer satisfaction is the top priority, and hopefully creating loyal, returning customers.”
 
Well, that sounds really nice, in theory, but what does that say about my other clients who paid the same price.  Am I just providing adequate or subpar to some and for others apply this "customer service" definition?  To whom do I assign this special service to go above and beyond too? 
 
So I continued my search and I found this one I liked:
 
Customer service is the act of supporting and advocating for customers in their discovery, use, optimization, and troubleshooting of a product or service. It's also the processes that support the teams making good customer service happen. The goal of customer service is to foster lasting customer relationships.
 
I believe, herein lies the problem.  I have decided what customer service means to me and I believe that is what everyone does.  So, if we all have a different definition, how can I achieve it for everyone?  I think this is especially true for people who are in the wedding industry or other careers that have so much emotion coupled with a large financial investment. I was about to say that clear and realistic expectations must be given before you can lay out your customer service policy.
 

The Customer is Always Right

This has been a commonly held policy and phrase for as long as I can remember.  I have always hated that phrase.  Mostly because I believe the customers who want to raise a fuss to get out of paying what they owe cling to this creed. I never have believed it and have ensured my staff doesn't get brainwashed into believing it either.  I believe right is right the problem with that is, in today's world who is deciding on what right is?

If you struggle with the notation that the customer is always right check out this article at INC.com  to read their opinion.

 

Ultimate Peace

Since it is so hard to deliver an excellent customer experience in the same way to each client we developed a few key steps to help set expectations and have some type of guideline for our staff to follow and for our clients to understand what they can reasonably expect.

At our 1st meeting even before they become a client we ask a few questions that tell us what we think they expect. Then we analyze it to see if we think we can deliver what they expect.  If it seems they want more attention than we can provide, then I know we can not deliver excellent service to that person.  If they want me to "fix" mistakes due to their poor choices, I know I can't deliver excellent customer service to them. If they want to be hands-off and I am responsible to deliver what they want and I am making the choices for them, I know I can deliver excellent customer service.  The questions and answers I use to determine if I can deliver the customer service they are looking for will definitely be different than others.  That is one of the great things about the service industry. If one company chooses not to do a service a particular way, someone else will be more than happy to take that client. It shouldn't be our goal to try to serve everyone and everyone. We are in a niche industry and should be proud to serve a select few.  The way I see it is, if I don't think I can service a client and make them happy, I want them to go to someone else. That way their satisfaction doesn't rest on my shoulders, but for my clients, it does, I am happy to take the responsibility of trying to put that smile on their faces. 

The second thing we do is lay out what the client can expect.   We put together a presentation with our hours, how and when they can contact us, the steps and processes they must follow, how and when we will follow up with them.  Every time we allow a client to step outside those boundaries or let them skip a step in the process, you guessed it, something happens and we get the blame.  It is essential for us to remember that the reason we came up with our policies and processes is to provide a great customer experience, it is in their best interest to not skip a step or to go outside of the boundaries we put in place.  When this does come up, we need to gently remind them of the printed-out policy, process, and boundaries we put in their binder and they have a copy of it for reference.  It seems like extra work, but it does provide us with a foundation to go back on.  When they say, oh I didn't know or I forgot, we simply just refer to their printed packages or program, and it typically puts the responsibility back on them so, they really can't be upset with us. On the positive side, the client can reference it if they really do need a refresher or reassurance that we haven't forgotten them. It helps restore their confidence in us because they see, we have a system to follow and we thought of and planned for all their needs. 

If you want more information on the importance of providing excellent customer service check out this post on Keeping.com.

Conclusion

As you probably have gathered I would love to have and give you a definitive answer on how to apply a consistent policy for everyone, but we all have a different definition of excellent customer service. We all need to set those parameters for ourselves and for our businesses. If you are considering joining our program you will find a step-by-step mini-course in our certification program to create your own customer service guidelines. I would love to hear some of your steps in developing a customer service guideline for your business.  Comment and share your thoughts below.

 

 

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