What Happened to the Art of Real Customer Service?

Think about it! How much does your company invest in nurturing long-lasting relationships with your customers? How did you feel the last time you received a call from anyone who provides service for your company just to say hello and check up? How long ago was that call?

The list of what angers a client is long and it contains things most of us would never think about. Among them are incorrect billing, waiting, never-ending voice mail caverns, excuses, hard no’s, and employees who don’t know how to speak properly with a customer.

How often does someone in your organization call a client to let them know how grateful you are for their patronage? Who trains your service techs and installers on how to properly speak with a customer in person?

Losing the Personal Touch
Is anyone in your organization or sales force conscientious enough to find out a when it is a client’s birthday? With mediocre sales and the cost associated with selling a new system, don’t you think it’s time to consider some kind of high-level customer relations program?

Sending a bill each month with a little message on the bottom thanking the customer for their business does not constitute customer relations.

The same is true when your recorded “on hold” message tells the caller how important their call is to you. How do you feel when you hear that message? You probably think if my call was so important, why do they keep me on hold so long.

Voice mail and E-mail have nearly made personal relationships extinct. With some very simple gestures, I promise you could gain assurance that your clients will not jump ship the first time some big company comes along — without at least calling you first.

Building personal relationships costs you little or nothing, and makes it next to impossible to lose your customer’s to competitors while creating huge payoffs when it comes to longevity and referrals.

It’s a fact: many of you reading this are taking out nearly as many accounts as you’re putting in.

Get Into Customer Relations
Any security dealer would do well to contact a customer relations specialist in an effort to determine the most beneficial and cost-effective way to get training and initiate a program designed for your specific situation. A satisfied customer is eight times more likely to switch to a competitor than is a delighted customer.

Some feel initiating this kind of program costs too much. The question they should ask is, “How much does it cost me not too?” So few have come “out of the box” when it comes to long-term customer nurturing and the referrals you will get from subscribers who have finally found a company who truly cares. It starts from the top down and through the entire organization. A good tenacious customer service manager can make you three times his yearly salary just in attrition reduction alone.

Some helpful hints to try yourself:

  • Learn to exceed expectations.
  • Stay in touch and follow up on everything.
  • Take an honest look at your service and billing from the perspective of your customer.
  • Learn as much as you can about your customer. Use and maintain that information.
  • Create an action plan with your top people. Filter it throughout your entire organization.
  • Stop talking and listen!
  • Learn to ask the right questions. They will tell you exactly what they want.
  • When you can’t say yes, learn the difference between the hard no and the soft no.
  • Smile when you’re speaking on the phone. It looks funny, but it sounds great!
  • Prove you really care. Words are cheap.
  • Provide your entire staff with training to delight even your most difficult customers.
  • Honesty and integrity is the art of long-term customer relationships.
  • Hire a consultant who knows this industry to show you how to do it effectively.

Bob Harris has worked in the security industry for over 25 years. His specialty is saving customers from competitors and reducing attrition. Bob is managing director of The Attrition Busters seminars, consulting, and workshops, and can be reached via E-mail at [email protected]. For more info about The Attrition Busters, visit www.attritionbusters.com.

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