I have blogged in the past on customer service and the response from people shows that everyone has had and continues to receive a poor version of it. Speak to anyone for more than a few minutes and you’re bound to hear about one of their bad customer service experiences, it seems that something that should be so simple to get right is something so many companies get wrong. But can you get it right?
I started running two years ago and joined a running club locally, Burgess Hill Runners. After much ribbing, I decided that overly tight shorts and a David Bedford vest top with more ventilation holes than was respectable, wasn’t winning me many friends.
I’d read an article about a company called Iffley Road, a British firm who produce great running gear. I placed an order for a few things; the website was very simple, with a clean layout and the most beautiful photos, it was a good first impression. A few days later the box turned up, I opened it up. The clothes were wrapped in tissue paper, on top was a postcard with a shot of a group of runners (in Iffley Road tops) bombing along the coastline. On the reverse was a handwritten note from one of the owners thanking me for my order and offering a £20 discount off my next one. What a great experience, they won me over as a customer and I hadn’t even tried on as much as a pair of shorts.
In describing my Iffley Road experience to you, it is worth noting that to this day I have not spoken to anyone at the company but I remain a very loyal customer. Moreover, have done my level best to convert other runners in the club and anyone else who will listen for that matter. This is particularly special when the interaction has been largely electronic.
Customer service essentials
When setting up Formation’s Workspace business, Paul and I wanted anyone who came into contact with us to have the best time. To be straightforward and only commit to what we know we can deliver on. We certainly don’t get it right each and every time but we learn when we come up short and this informs our future work.
I think for us at Formation and I hope other firms, it boils down to a few simple things;
- Know your Products and Services We think what we do at Formation by delivering the very best talent to firms is brilliant. However, you need to have a deep understanding of what Customers will experience buying from you. This takes effort but do it.
- Be easy to do business with: People like to do business with people they can get on with. The ease of doing business relates to how quickly you connect with your customers. If a customer wants to call you, make it easy. Some customers will prefer to email, how quickly can they find your email address. If they want a call-back and request one, will they get a call?
- Make a Difference ! What I don’t mean is… using phrases “Add Value” or “Value Added. This has really become sell more. No, what I mean is do what you said you would by great pricing, quality, reliability and solid customer service – can you add margin to your customer’s business, cut costs for them or bring greater efficiencies? Providing great service is really an advantage for all small businesses because they are small, agile and able to do things quickly. I think in Workspace there are lots of neat ways to achieve this. It is a customer-centric industry.
- Communicate Often. Achieving the balance between absent parent and stalker can be tough to judge for many. The frequency of contacting your customers will vary, from weekly to monthly depending on your relationship. It doesn’t matter how often you stay in contact, but that there is regular communication, whether by phone, email, Skype, snail mail or in person. With Formation we think you can never spend enough time with your customers, we hope they feel the same!
- Tell people you’ve screwed up. When you alert your client to a mistake, you can often create a customer for life. As I mentioned earlier, I would love to say we get it right each and every time. We don’t. When I make a mistake, I work hard with the customer to rectify it and put something in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
There are hundreds more but I think these are the ones that make a business stand out. The Workspace sector creates an expectation that customer service will be excellent, communication immediate and problems dealt with. To ensure this happens, you need great systems, processes, procedures and dare I say, as a Recruiter, great people.