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Tim Millett
Published by Tim Millett
08 October 2013

Customer service should be front and centre of everything that your business does. The most consistently successful businesses maintain a focus on customers and service standards and are always striving for improvement in both areas.

Successful businesses also know that the most effective approaches to raised standards incorporate customer service training and sales training for frontline and customer facing staff. Investment in staff through quality training facilitates good results as staff have an increased repertoire of skills from which to draw when serving customers and converting interest to sales.

So, what are some of the most important features of quality customer service?

Quick response to problems:

When a business is effectively focused on its customers and high standards, business owners, managers and staff need to promptly address and respond to problems. No business can afford a poor reputation and it must be appreciated that both recommendations and complaints can travel fast. The success of many businesses is built on the word of mouth of their customers. Although it is a reality that all businesses encounter problems periodically, the speed with which problems are addressed and obstacles are removed determines the likelihood of new and repeat sales being optimised.

Consistently excellent communication:

Communicating with your customers in an efficient and attentive way should not occur only when emergencies and problems arise. The most effective and successful businesses maintain a dialogue with customers and this strong rapport with customersassists them to effectively gauge customers’ opinions and feelings about their services. When your customers know that you are interested and committed to an ongoing relationship with them, you are more likely to gain their loyalty through repeat business, referrals and increased spend, and subsequently, your customers are more likely to help you achieve excellent sales.

Customer service is treated as an investment:

All too often, businesses regard customer service training as an optional expense. Instead of perceiving customer service as a cost, it is far more useful and accurate to see it as a vital strategy for customer retention and a strategy to promote the acquisition of new customers. The May 2011 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer shows that as a result of poor customer service, 78% of purchasers have not completed a transaction or purchase. However, 59% of the total purchasers said that they would try another brand or company for better service. This presents a key opportunity to capitalise on business lost from competitors who are underperforming in terms of customer service.

In many sectors and industries, it is the approach and attitude of the business to customer service that determines a business’ success and the quality of the relationship that is established with customers.

Seek the perspectives of staff:

If you are asking and expecting your staff to deliver the highest standard of customer service it is empowering to ask them for their contributions and opinions of how customer service can be improved. Encourage staff to actively suggest how products and services can be improved and their opinions of what customers want and need as this ensures your responsiveness to customers.

Building community:

When a business is genuinely attentive to customer service and customer service as a vehicle for increased sales, a transformation can result in the way that your staff and customers develop a sense of identity in your business. When they feel an affinity with your business, they are also likely to view it as a community as well as a provider of a product or service.

To truly and effectively build a sense of community, managers and business owners should acknowledge and reward staff that provide exceptional customer service and express gratitude to customers that are loyal and provide repeat business.

Many successful businesses testify to the fact that sales will only increase if a business offers consistently excellent customer service. Quality training with the purpose of improving customer service and sales is always a sound investment that will help to strengthen your business and increase its profitability.

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