It’s a simple and well-known fact: companies can be built or broken by their customer service models. If a customer has a terrible experience that is not properly remedied, he or she will unlikely return. This unhappy person will probably share details of the experience with friends and family members.
At the same time, if an experience is overwhelmingly positive, the customer will likely become a loyal one that returns time and time again. To learn more about companies that built legacies based on customer service, check out the 3 models below.
Include All the Details
When asked to name a retailer with excellent customer service, many consumers mention Nordstrom. This upscale-fashion retailer has grown a loyal following over the years, based on simple customer service. The secret? Paying attention to the smallest details.
It all starts with employee training and empowerment. Employees are taught to focus on customer experiences, such as the following:
- Walk customers to items they’re searching for instead of just giving directions
- Walk around the counter to hand shopping bags to customers at the completion of a sale
- Answer the phone prior to the second ring
Employees are also empowered to make decisions on the spot, rather than to refer to management. They’re taught the value of good judgment and ensured that they’ll be supported as long as their solutions are in line with company policy, which they’re taught from day one.
This combination of detail-oriented training and employee empowerment should be a model for all retailers. To bring it home, consider the following techniques:
- Ease customer frustration. Answer the phone and emails immediately, help customers find what they’re looking for and do what you can to minimize anything that could pose a frustration.
- Get personal with shoppers. Encourage employees to ask questions and start conversations.
- Consider your best shopping experiences. What small details helped contribute to your best shopping experiences? Consider implementing the same tactics in your own customer service model.
Offer Comprehensive Services
For companies that sell heavy equipment and other products requiring major investments, small details might not be enough. Going above and beyond with comprehensive service offerings might set you apart from your competition.
This is true for Thompson Agriculture, a large CAT dealer. Thompson Agriculture’s customer service is backed by a legendary service plan. Customer service doesn’t stop once a sale is made; the company offers preventative maintenance inspections and oil sampling services designed to prevent damage and expensive repairs.
Customers can also customize support agreements. Thompson Agriculture has learned that every customer has different needs and offers varying options based on this fact.
The company offers convenience, too. It comes to the customers for repairs, rather than requiring hauling to a maintenance facility. It also offers training on all machinery to ensure success.
Taking a comprehensive approach to customer service, you can guarantee satisfied customers who return for future purchases. To bring this model to your brand, consider:
- Ways you can bring service to your customers instead of making them come to you.
- What you can do to provide service before problems arise.
- Your willingness to adjust your model to meet the needs of individual customers.
Focus on Employee Satisfaction
Satisfied employees lead to positive work environments, which lead to satisfied customers. It’s a well-proven chain and, therefore, should garner some attention. It’s especially important because recent polls found that up to two-thirds of US employees are disengaged and unsatisfied at work. One company working to change this every day is Southwest Airlines.
Southwest provides perks like free flights for employees and family members, discounts on hotels and rental cars, Halloween parties, chili cook-offs, volunteer days and “spirit parties” to boost overall morale.
In an industry that forces employees to deal with customers who are frequently tired, stressed and unhappy, this is big. In addition to the positive perks, the company offers solid benefits, profit-sharing and stock options to employees. When employees are happy, they’re likely to pass that on to customers. It’s a simple equation that many brands overlook.
To bring Southwest’s employee satisfaction levels to your business, think about:
- Ways to encourage team building like retreats, open-door policies and open forums.
- What benefits you could offer employees that differ from the standard “in-house” discount. Can you provide freebies, gifts and other small offerings to add a little brightness to an employee’s day?
- Surveying employees to find out if they’re truly satisfied at work and what you could do to boost that satisfaction level.
The three customer service models above are different: one focuses on training and details, another on comprehensive service offerings and another on employee satisfaction. But they all have one thing in common: they start in-house. What can you do today to enhance your customer service based on these examples?
About the Author
Kate Wilson is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses create compelling content. You can follow her on Twitter @kateowilson for more alliterations, and also more on language, writing, and the wonders of the interwebs.