Being right is not always right for business. Developing strong customer service standards may mean adjusting a business’s attitude to improve sustainability of revenues.
Customer service standards often encompass scripts for sales calls, how to handle upset customers and standards of discounts or other solutions staff is able to provide to consumers. The best customer service plan is cooperatively developed with a company’s marketing plan to ensure the brand’s tone of voice is consistent with consumers in advertising, in direct mail promotions, over the telephone and at the checkout counter.
Every strong customer service protocol needs four minimum components, including customer service phone scripting, steps for handling upset customers, semi-annual training for staff and an outreach program complimenting customers to keep them returning.
Phone scripting may sound outdated, but it is the cornerstone of creating positive customer conversations. Scripts at a minimum should provide an opening and closing line for every phone conversation and a welcome line in the store. Too often, staff can be caught by surprise, and having a script for opening and ending a conversation can provide a positive path for the conversation. Scripts should be posted at every phone until staff is trained on scripts and how to develop a friendly tone of voice, as each person’s tone varies.
The second key component is to create specific steps for handling troubled customers that not even the biggest discount will satisfy. When our marketing firm develops branding standards for a client, we include steps for handling difficult customers, and the first step is always to ask the customer to explain in detail what happened because their concern is also the business’s concern. Then, offer the customer the solution heor she is requesting or offer two alternatives, and explain why alternatives are being offered.
Finally, when dealing with an upset customer, have a scripted conversation closer as an option for staff to use. An example of a script one might use is: “Customer satisfaction is our top priority, and I apologize for what happened. Allow me the opportunity to develop a better relationship with you because nothing is of greater concern than keeping valued customers like you happy.” Customers must know their voices are heard, their concerns matter and your company is willing to find solutions for their needs.
Finally, build a client book by gathering customers’ names, phone numbers, emails and addresses. Estee Lauder, a national cosmetic brand, requires its sales associates to call customers 24 hours after their visit and then in two weeks to see if the purchased products are working and again in three months to remind the customer to purchase more of the product.
Contacting customers allows businesses to develop stronger customer loyalty programs through email, direct mail and text message marketing. Local retail stores have a stronger customer attraction with the ability to call customers 24 hours after a visit to offer a simple thank you. Simple goes a long way.
Client standards are simple. A company wants to earn customer loyalty to improve revenue potential. To maximize a company’s consumer base, executives, managers and front line staff must be trained to be customer ambassadors.
Camden Smith, owner of DREAMFly Marketing LLC, has more than eight years expertise in branding and marketing strategy and 13 years in public relations. Formerly a WINK-TV reporter, Smith is an award-winning PR strategist and lives in Naples with her husband. Visit Smith at dreamflymarketing.com