Most business owners would agree that customer service is crucial to long term success. And yet it could be argued that few follow that belief when it comes to their own companies. Could it be they don’t care, or just aren’t sure how to implement policies and procedures? Regardless, here are five steps to get any company on the path to delivering better customer service.

  1. Customer-centric policies. Most businesses do not have any set policies in place regarding customer service, instead treating each situation – and customer – as unique. The problem is this can lead to confusion by staff and possibly signs of favoritism towards customers. Make sure to have a clear set of policies that cover the most common issues. And create them in a way that makes the customer feel appreciated and valued.
  2. Start from the beginning of the relationship. In many cases, a customer will only hear from management after they have left for another supplier. By that time it’s too late. Instead, have the sales manager introduce himself to new customers. Most importantly, have him make himself accessible should the need arise.
  3. Follow up. Just because an upset customer is still buying from you doesn’t mean they aren’t still upset. Maybe they’re just waiting for a better supplier to come along. Be proactive. Have a manager follow up immediately to ensure all issues are dealt with. Then commit to taking whatever actions are needed to make things right.
  4. Empower your staff. Everyone has the authority to say no. Which is of no use to the customer. Use your customer service policies as a tool to empower your staff. Let them take ownership and responsibility for the relationship your company has with it’s customers. Not only will your customers become more loyal, so will your staff.
  5. Forget technology. Email and social media will never have the same impact as a phone call or personal visit. Why? Because sending an email or a tweet takes little to no time. And time is a valuable commodity. So it says a lot when you’re willing to invest real time in building a customer relationship. And that’s the first step to providing great customer service.

Marc Gordon is a recognized marketing expert. He regularly appears on TV and radio. His articles appear in over 200 publications worldwide. Visit marcgordon.ca or his online show at marctv.net for more business tips.