How having a good customer service model can help retain customer loyalty.
Now, more than ever before, customer experience plays an important part in retaining repeat custom. As a small business, it’s vital that you sustain a competitive edge over larger competitors, and the key differentiator that puts you above your competition is YOU. No matter what your job role is, customer service should be included within your remit.
As a crucial, yet all-too-often overlooked aspect of a company, customer service is the key asset responsible for generating customer satisfaction, loyalty and turnover, and it should be the number one priority for every business. Rather than being viewed as a necessary or formal-sounding ‘add-on’ for your company’s structure, it needs to be recognised as the main priority for maintaining profit and growth.
What’s tech got to do with it?
In this digital age, consumers are becoming more and more tech smart. And while technologies such as social media platforms enable us to see what our audiences want – giving us more insight into buying trends than ever before – it does mean that a shift in your business’ approach to customer service is required. Customer service doesn’t begin and end with your customer service department, and it’s important that the technologies you deploy are all taken into consideration when it comes to your customer.
All too often there is a disconnect between the service you think you are giving and what is actually happening – both in person and online. It is vital that businesses adopt customer service models that work from the shop floor, all the way through to the boardroom and across their online channels.
In this blog, we discuss the importance of a good customer service model and how it’s at the very core of everything Daisy does.
The customer service model
We follow the model for World Class Service introduced by the Institute of Customer Service and whenever we look at making changes or introducing new initiatives, we consider where they fit within that model and what impacts they will have on our services. If they don’t fit in the model, we then consider just how valuable or relevant they are to the service we provide.
Strategy, people and processes underpin everything, and they are broken out into a broader list of ‘6 Cs’: commitment, credibility, capability, continuity, consistency and creativity.
Daisy has created different approaches that meet all of these requirements.
Commitment doesn’t scare us. We have created a customer service charter which highlights all of the promises to our customers and these are displayed in numerous places around our call centres. It’s important that it is signed by every single colleague who works for us from members of the management team, right up to our CEO to ensure everyone takes responsibility for their actions on the front line.
And when it comes to technology, commitment also comes from putting our product experts on the front line of social media. Whether in-house or external, having somebody who knows their stuff helps when responding to customers directly. If your company’s social media accounts are managed by individuals ready and willing to help, then customers are less likely to post ad hoc, generalised and unspecific comments across your Twitter, Facebook or web platforms. Regardless of how they choose to interact with you, all customers share a need of being treated like an individual which translates to being approached by individuals within your company and not a faceless brand.
We employ a complaints process for when things go wrong, but sometimes we’re not always aware that they have, so we continually ask customers for feedback on our performance through our Voice of the Customer programme (surveying customers after every interaction with us) and if a customer flags that something has gone wrong or is not to their satisfaction we make contact to rectify the situation and repair our relationship with our customer.
To us, credibility is also about how reliable you are as a source of industry information. Your business isn’t just there to sell products, it’s there to position itself as a go-to source for on-trend industry topics allowing your customers the autonomy to help themselves. Social media is a fantastic way to share and exchange information, and using your online platforms to post or share external resources will empower your audience to become their own fountain of knowledge and help form an engaged community of customers.
At Daisy, our blogs, how-to videos, infographics etc. endeavour to address any hypothetical crises or industry pain points which, in essence, serve to solve our customers’ problems long before they need solving, letting them know that we’ll be there for them should that moment ever arise.
Recruiting and retaining the right people is the first step in injecting a fresh approach to the service you give your customers; passionate employees give passionate service. Knowing this, we introduced Customer Service Assessment Centres to ensure we are hiring the people with the right skills and attitudes to provide the high standards of service that we expect for our customers. Recruits are then put through our rigorous Customer Service Academy before spending a few weeks in ‘Grad Bay’ where they can hone the knowledge and skills that they learned in the Academy. If a new candidate then graduates from Grad Bay, they will move into our Customer Service Team as a fully-fledged executive.
In order to hold on to the people we hire, we do all we can to empower them to make the right decision for the customer without having to go through layers of management for approval. Additionally, we have a vast number of feedback mechanisms – some anonymous – that ensure employees always have a way to feedback how to improve a process or service, or how we can give them more autonomy in their role to do what they need to keep our customers happy.
Our Customer Experience function comprises a Business Process Improvement Team whose role is to continually review our business processes to make it easier for customers to deal with Daisy. If a change to process is proposed by the business, the team will review that change to ensure it will enhance the customer experience rather than make it more difficult.
As mentioned, regular feedback is important. We employ multiple feedback mechanisms for both customers and employees on how to improve service. It isn’t enough to just ask people for feedback, you have to be creative and give people a number of different options – such as e-mail inboxes asking how we can make things better for everyone, to Group-wide campaigns asking every employee to think of a way to simplify the complex.
To cater for those employees who don’t wish to be in the spotlight, they are given anonymous feedback links to submit at any time. Competitions are often run for the feedback that has made the biggest improvement to a process or given us the greatest change in customer experience.
If you own a small business and you are not training your staff to follow specified models of delivering great service, you are missing out on the single best, free and effective strategy to build a loyal, happy customer base and causing more harm to your brand’s identity than good.
These models need to be regularly reviewed and adapted to reflect the needs and buying trends of your customers in this always-on society. The single, most effective – and underutilised – digital age customer service strategy that you can adopt right now is social media. While social platforms are used by some of the largest and most admired brands, it’s actually much easier for small businesses to implement consistently.