Hold your hand over one eye and stare at the dot in the middle of the circle. After a few seconds, the grey circle will fade and disappear. It will only reappear if you blink or shift your gaze to other areas.
What happens is that the receptors in your eye get ‘tired’ and stop responding, and nerve cells higher up in your sensory system switch off. This process is called sensory adaptation.
When your method for service is routine and unchanging, your customers and staff get bored and switches off. We become ‘blind’ to the opportunities right before our eyes.
Keeping customers is critical to the success of any company. Unfortunately, too many business owners focus their effort on attracting new customers while lack of customer service is driving current customers away.
Most companies are too focused in the kind of industry they are in. What they should realize is they are in customer service business.
There are six strategies practice owners can follow to keep customers and boost their bottom line. The first step is to look at customer service as a competitive strategy. The one reason most companies are not service-driven and continue to lose customers is they do not understand the power of service and its impact on their bottom lines.
Companies tend to come out with policies and procedures that suit their business practice rather than the convenience of their customers. The second strategy is to eliminate any policies and procedures that negate the many good things they do for their customers. Your employees may be knowledgeable and courteous, but policies that have a negative impact on customers will overshadow the good work they do.
The third strategy is to hire the right people to work and treat them well. Service leaders are very careful about who they hire and treat their employees well. They train them, praise them, and respect them.
The fourth strategy is that every member of your workforce should be trained in the art of customer service, and training should be done every six months. Service leaders who want to have superior, customer-driven workforce must teach their employees the skills and instill in them the attitudes they need to provide customers with exceptional service.
Of the companies that do train their employees in customer service, many train them once and think they will retain the information and continue to practice what they have learnt. Service leaders must provide new material at least every six months that presents their customer service message differently and expands on it in order to keep employees interested and motivated and to change behaviors and attitudes.
A fifth strategy is to empower employees to take care of their customers. This must happen throughout the organization, or it will never be effective. It is especially important to empower front-line employees because they come face to face with customers every day and should be goodwill ambassadors for the company.
Finally, service leaders – owners and their employees, need to understand and appreciate the financial impact of customer service. Successful businesses know the financial benefits of a service strategy. The employees know how much it contributes to sales, profits, image, brand and market dominance. If management doesn’t track and measure the results of service strategy, interest will wane in 6 to 12 months, and customer service will take a nosedive.
For quality service to exist and flourish, everyone in the organization must internalize the concept that service quality is an endless journey.
Service leaders who want to keep their customers need to make customer service the focus of their business.