Every business, large or small, depends on customers for its livelihood. Surprisingly, a great many businesses fail to honour this common-sense principle.
Principles of customer service
Excellence in customer service is arguably the single most important element in determining your company’s future success or failure. Regardless of the product or service you provide, you are in the business of serving customers.
The CEO/MD must transmit three essential principles to all employees:
- Every function of the company must look at the business through the eyes of the customer.
- Each person in the company must add value on top of the product or service.
- The customer, not the company, determines value.
Building customer loyalty
All too often, companies focus their energies on going after customers and too little effort into building a solid customer base. This short-term strategy usually ends up backfiring on the bottom line.
Successful companies focus “outside-in” (looking through the customers’ eyes), not “inside-out” (looking through your own eyes). They maintain an “outside-in” focus through the following techniques.
- Model the behaviour. Create an environment where employees can make decisions at the tactical level. Leaders need to model the behaviour they want employees to exhibit, not the “do as I say, not as I do” model.
- Know your customer. Allocate time to go out and meet with customers and suppliers.
- Manage out, not up. If an employee’s orientation is to please the boss, he or she won’t focus on pleasing the customer.
- Put customer service first at your management meetings. If you always ask questions about cost cutting or meeting the budget, your management team will focus on these issues, not on customers.