This time it’s personal..key lessons for customer service

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Sometimes the service you receive really does beggar belief.  This week it’s personal because yet again we’ve received appalling customer service from our Local Authority with regard to our two lovely adopted children.

Having children can be stressful, adopting children can be stressful, getting what they need and have been promised by the LA is always stressful.   Their slogan to customer care appears to be- do nothing until you absolutely have to..

This made me think, what are the key lessons to excellent customer service? It’s not rocket science and it’s not about resources.  It’s about setting the right tone and culture and ensuring that all staff abide by your standards.

  1. Deliver what you promise, agree deadlines and deliver on time.  Never promise something that you can’t deliver.
  2. Respond quickly to customers.  If you can’t deal with something immediately say so, drop a note or pick up the phone (remember them?) and let the customer know.
  3. Always give the client a little bit more than they anticipate, under promise and over deliver. Go the extra mile
  4. Be helpful, even if there’s no immediate return in it for you.  Relationships are key, a reputation for being helpful can often reap rewards.
  5. Listen to the customer- establish clearly their needs and wants.  Often customers do no know what they want (this is often true in consultancy work).
  6. If you do make a mistake- admit it and apologise.  Nothing undermines your integrity and reputation more than denying responsibility.  If you don’t handle a complaint well your customers will tell EVERYONE.
  7. Be personable, people buy from people they like and trust.  Establishing rapport and trust with your customers is essential.
  8. Look after your customers even when they’re not buying or commissioning.  It takes much more energy to win a new customer than to sell a new service to an existing one.

One more thing.  When you’re a customer and you don’t get what you want, need and expect.  Do not be afraid to ask for it- I did with our LA and I got what I wanted, eventually. It’s just a pity that it took so much time and energy by all parties, oh and I told EVERYONE.

Have fun, work hard

Nic