Customer ServiceIt appears that the art of providing good customer service may be lost in modern American business culture.  According to a study by Forrester’s, slightly more than one-third of businesses received a “Good” or “Excellent” customer service score in 2012, while just under two-thirds received an “OK,” “Poor,” or “Very Poor” rating. Furthermore, the Parature Customer Service blog states that American businesses lost roughly $83 billion in potential revenues because of poor customer service last year.

If you don’t think maintaining a high level of customer service is important for your business, then you may be fooling yourself. Eventually, your company might suffer the effects of an unsatisfied customer base – so realize that now might be the time to get to work and make the necessary improvements.

1. Train Your Staff
There can be plenty of reasons to hold training sessions with your staff, but have you ever considered conducting one devoted solely to customer service? The first thing you may need to do to help improve customer service at your organization is to make sure it’s important to your team. Consider scheduling a meeting or training session to focus solely on this topic – this will stress to your team the gravity of the subject.

2. Watch Them in Action
You may never get a true understanding of your business’s current level of customer service unless you see your staff in action firsthand. Consider perusing your sales floor, and listen to how your staff interacts with customers or clients in person or on the telephone. You may come away with a totally different perspective on the quality of your customer service.

3. Implement Customer Surveys
Consider creating a comment card or an online survey, and encouraging your customers to speak openly about the services they receive from your small business. You can sometimes glean specific insights on how to improve your customer service just by asking your clients for guidance.

4. Ask Your Staff for Help
When you conduct your training sessions, consider making the conversation interactive. The majority of your staff want to provide a high level of customer service as much as you do, and they may be able to identify outdated or cumbersome processes or policies that just don’t make sense anymore, along with other ideas. Improving customer service is a team effort, so be sure to involve everyone.

5. Hold Your Managers Accountable
Don’t simply assume that your managers understand the importance of quality customer service – you may have to monitor their performance as well. Plus, if you’re preaching to your front line staff about the importance of excellent customer service but your managers aren’t following suit, you’re likely to still have problems.

6. Overcompensate Your Dissatisfied Customers
If your business legitimately makes an error, many believe that it’s a must to go above and beyond to rectify the situation. When dealing with dissatisfied customers, consider doing all you can to ensure that they’re 100% satisfied. The short-term financial effect on your business may be minimal, and often it’s these customers who will remain loyal to your business in gratitude for your extra efforts.

When it comes to improving customer service, it can all start with you. If you are not leading by example and correcting issues as they occur, it will be tough to expect your supervisors and staff to focus on the same. Live and breathe stellar customer service each day, and before you know it, it may become an engrained part of your company culture.

What other ways can you think of to help improve customer service?

Photo Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives, Flickr