Customer Service – How important is it?
For our May networking event, Chamber members were treated to a thoughtful presentation on customer service. In addition to our own members, we were joined by around a dozen budding entrepreneurs from the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, with fledgling businesses ranging from festival camping accessories, to a mobile crepe business, to car sales.
Paul Batey, Chamber Committee Member and Ambassador, shared some theory and practical experience of how one of the area’s most successful businesses, Clarks of Amersham, tries to get it right.
To start with, however, he demonstrated how NOT to treat customers, with a little help from a famous ‘computer says no’ Little Britain sketch!
Paul explained how Customer Service needs to be ingrained culturally throughout the company: “It is not a Job… It is not a Department… It is all our Responsibility”.
He also encouraged us to think about how much energy goes into generating new business, and how important it is not to take existing customers for granted. And if you do, they will probably just walk without telling you – more than 80% of customers who stop doing business with you, do so because of poor customer service. Around 90% of them won’t say anything to you, but the majority will tell others – and with the strength of social media these days, that’s a headache that you don’t need. [Stop Press: look at Thomas Cook’s present PR problems].
The answer is clearly to engage customers proactively: ASK for feedback, LEARN from unhappy experiences, TRACK recommendations and social media. And ALWAYS record feedback, and THANK those giving it, and especially those giving referrals.
Paul left us with his suggested four golden rules:
- Regular Training: Re-visit policies and practices regularly; don’t neglect the basics.
- Make it Personal: Your customers is important – respond in a friendly manner and listen to what they want.
- Use your Feedback: Make the changes needed to deliver the customer service your customers want.
- Fast Response: Deal with customers swiftly but be realistic.