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BIZ - 2021-07-01

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CUSTOMER-CENTRIC CULTURES LEAD TO BUSINESS

Biz Marketing

By Bill Regenhardt, Yuma Sun Digital Media Manager

IDO MY VERY best to frequent our local Yuma businesses, small, medium or large. As a college business professor, I am always looking for examples and stories I can share with my students on best practices that will help them as budding entrepreneurs. When I put on my business consultant cap, I look at business operations through a different lens and find things about which I would discuss with the business owner to help increase profits and limit liabilities. On the top of almost every list is how customers are treated and what strategies a company has (or doesn’t have) in place to create and sustain a culture of great customer service. There are a few important things that a business can put into their operations tool belt that can make a measurable difference in improving the customer experience. It may be as simple as training staff to say “You’re welcome” or “It’s my pleasure” when a customer says thank you, instead of a flippant, “No problem” response. That response surely shows little sign of gracefully acknowledging gratitude. I recently had a server spill a beverage on my table and just say, “My bad,” which immediately went into my storybook of things not to say to a customer. It is not always the big changes that make a difference, but the little things that will “WOW” a customer – or turn them off completely. Many have written about the value and importance of great customer service and the need to create an “excellence in customer service” culture. I believe there are far too many businesses that do not make this a priority and far too few that do it well. If you are looking for a stellar resource, look to the best practices of Tony Hsieh and the Zappos team. They have made their efforts famous since the publication of Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness, that highlights the lengths to which they will go to make their customers happy. While my list may be different than Tony’s, here a few suggestions to establish or improve your customer service culture. 1. Set a clear customer-centric vision Every person on your team should know what being customer-centered means. Be sure to create a culture that promotes and rewards a great customer experience at every level. Continue to look for new stories of customer service success that you can share with the team and keep them motivated to build a stronger culture of service. 2. Use a proven blueprint in the development of your team and personalize it. There is no need to try and reinvent the wheel. There are plenty of customer service programs out there that can give you ideas on how to personalize your own. Explore the cultures of Zappos, Disneyland, Nordstrom’s and the Ritz Carlton. These organizations have set the bar for creating a great customer experience. Take what will work for you and your business and add the personal touch that will most benefit your customers 3. Know your customer While this may seem like a simple step, it is really one that takes a lot of thought. Like the friends with whom you spend a lot of time, you will find each customer has their own set of wants and needs. It is up to you and your team to determine how best to serve them. Create affinity groups in which you feel each customer may fit and use those groups to your advantage. Knowing the customer personas and profiles that fit into each group will help you customize your training to make each individual in each group feel special. 4. Show customers that you care “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” is an adage that rings true in customer service. Making the customer experience one that has some positive emotional connection will pay big dividends in customer retention. Sending a customer a “Thank you” note or remembering their special day when they come into your business or buy your product speaks volumes about how much you value them. Customers who have an emotional connection with your team or your company are more likely to recommend you, more likely to repurchase from you, less likely to shop around, and less likely to be price sensitive! 5. Listen to your team when it comes to customer service Those on the front line will know firsthand if there is a chink in your customer service armor, and they will also know when to blow the horns of celebration. Encourage regular team feedback and act on it as quickly as possible. Don’t wait for the annual Christmas party to hand out customer service awards – do it regularly! And let the team be part of the ongoing process of quality improvement in the development of your customer-centric culture. 6. Get customer feedback in real-time Post sale surveys are fine if you have the luxury of waiting for feedback. It is more effective to strike while the iron is hot and get customer feedback as soon as possible after the sale. There should always be at least two questions asked: • Was everything to your liking? (or some version thereof). • Is there anything we could have done better? After these questions are asked, the door is open to invite them back, place another order, or whatever the case may be. But if you don’t ask at least those two questions, you may never get another opportunity for feedback. 7. Work the analytics Even though I am not riding my digital horse in this article, I can still strongly encourage you to monitor the analytics. Your business results will give you a good idea of how your customer-centric culture is doing and whether you need to make changes. The data that you collect from customer feedback will also prove to be invaluable. If you want to set yourself apart and rise above the competition, creating a customer-centric culture will help you do so. Continually train your team to be the best – not by leaping tall buildings in a single bound, but by following the standards excellence that you’ve set for everyday activities. Being customer-centric shouldn’t be thought of something they “have” to do, but something they “get” to do. Cast the vision of excellent customer service and watch your business grow. For further information about programs and events offered by Yuma Sun, please contact Bill Regenhardt, MBA at (928) 539-6825 or by email at marketing@yumasun.com.✶

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