Top down delivery of communications standards can improve a company’s delivery of customer service, in addition to enhancing staff buy-in to the guiding principles. It is this commitment to excellence in customer service which led to the development of an ROI Customer Service Charter and a communications workshop which was rolled out across the business for all members of staff.
Rachel Stones, Organisational Effectiveness Director at ROI said, “Embedding positive communications principles into all areas of project work, across all levels of staff, can result in an environment where teams are working together to deliver genuine excellence in customer service. We want all our employees to share these same methodologies so that our customers receive a consistent quality experience when working with ROI.”
Customers have choices about the services or products they use and who supplies them. Thanks to widely available information on the internet, product offerings and pricing are often highly competitive. Frequently, it can be great customer service which drives a customer to choose one product over another when faced with a similar product or service with a minimal variation in cost.
Key points to consider:
Behaviour affects customer perceptions
Every detail of behaviour counts when dealing with a customer, from the way we talk to our ability to listen; all demonstrate our willingness to create the right impression. Identifying opportunities to deliver something ‘over and above’ is the key to delivering a personalised service.
Consistency and expectation management
Making appropriate promises and keeping your word are important aspects of true customer service, along with the courtesy of providing progress updates to manage customer expectations.
Customer service delivery in a team involves many situations when you are personally unable to see actions through to the conclusion, and responsibility must be passed on to a colleague. Create a ‘roadmap’ of the task and identify touch-points to ensure that the task is working its’ way through the system to the conclusion.
Focus on the positive and highlight the aspects of what CAN be done before moving onto any negative response.
Verbal communication with customers
The way you say things and your tone of voice will affect the way the listener experiences customer service. When making outbound calls, prepare carefully to make sure that you are able to guide the conversation the direction in which you wish it to go. Identify the call objectives so that questions and the discussion can provide information for future actions, along with perfecting the customer journey.
Carefully read customer communications to identify the precise reason for contact, to enable you to understand what they are seeking as the outcome. A timely response, clear language and a summary with next actions is a good way to build rapport with customers. Double check grammar and spelling before pressing ‘send’!
Dealing with customer issues
From time to time, no matter how good you are at providing an excellent service, customers will be dissatisfied. Try to recognise when something is a problem from the customer’s point of view and deal calmly and confidently to acknowledge the issue and together, seek a positive solution.
A problem can be an opportunity to impress a customer in a way that would not have been possible if everything had gone smoothly. Issue resolution is particularly important in customer service because many customers judge how good an organisation is, by the way that problems are handled.
Investigate what happened to cause the problem – understanding the cause can help to identify possible solutions and prevent future problems, in addition to helping the customer to understand and accept the situation. Work with the team – and the customer – to ensure that promises are kept and to recognise repeated challenges which may be indicative of wider process-related concerns.
Developing a charter and delivering on communications standards
Following the delivery of communications training across our own business, ROI was approached by one of our clients to provide a bespoke training session for their internal operational team. ROI was chosen to deliver this training because of our great customer service delivery to the client’s own customers. Viki Thurgood, Operations Director at ROI said, “This is a real accolade; a testament to our relationship building with customers, that our clients view our business processes and communication skills as ones they seek to emulate”.
The bespoke training was built upon a shared commitment to a Customer Service Charter and structured around the development of different types of listening skills and positive, solutions-oriented service delivery.
Following the training session, Rhea Keehn, Operations Team Leader, VW Group Fleet Services said, “The training is a fantastic session for anyone who is looking for a better way to deliver difficult messages. The team have begun to break down the ‘them and us’ barriers and the Customer Service Charter that we developed helps to celebrate our refreshed communication style. Viki is incredibly knowledgeable and the real world examples have made this a session that wasn’t just forgotten as soon as we got back in the office. Thanks again for delivering such a useful session.”
For more information about how communications skills can make the difference to your business, call Simon Fretwell at 07920 803 237.