Having satisfied customers is the Holy Grail for business. Creating a fan base amongst those who do business with you reduces customer churn, and also encourages existing customers to buy more from you and recommend you to others.
But whose responsibility is it to keep customers satisfied? The answer is simple – everyone’s.
Too many companies rely on their customer services team. In fact, your entire business should be built around your customers’ requirements.
Everyone who comes into contact with your customers should be trained to listen to them in order to understand the challenges they face and respond with innovative ideas to help them.
The service we provide (gritting and snow clearance) is critical as it keeps organisations operating in the worst weather but, by its nature, has to be delivered in the toughest of conditions.
Our secret is that we are all committed to delivering excellence. The sole aim of everyone in the company is to protect customers from the harsh winter weather and to keep them open and operational.
In my opinion, it isn’t difficult to provide a service that customers find exceptional. The answer is to put your customers at the heart of everything you do.
After customers, your staff are your biggest asset
Having motivated and passionate people representing your business will mean they’re always doing the best job they can for you and your customers, and they’ll often go the extra mile.
We select everyone we work with based on their attitude, skills and knowledge (ASK) – in that order.
Having a ‘can do’ attitude is essential. I believe it’s easier to teach people the skills needed for the job, than it is to change a person’s work ethic, and the team continually prove that this is the best approach.
It’s not just customer-facing staff who should be relied on to react to customers’ needs – everyone in the business should be focused on it. There needs to be an internal culture which promotes and rewards innovative thinking.
Flexible systems mean customers’ individual needs are met
It’s also vital to have robust systems and processes in place, which enable every member of the team to do the best job within a framework of excellence expected by the company, whilst being as flexible as possible with individual customer needs.
As technology improves, the possibilities become endless – so never again should staff need to say “computer says no” when a customer requests something that isn’t part of the usual service.
Foster continuity and understanding with suppliers as well as clients
It is also essential to remember that your suppliers are just as important to customer satisfaction as those you employ directly. The key to successful business relationships is to build long-term partnerships with suppliers – as well as clients – that are based on providing mutual benefits.
Whilst many companies have programmes in place to ensure employees are working towards developing long-term relationships with customers, it is rare to find a company focused on their relationships with suppliers.
There is an arrogance in today’s business culture which leads to many companies regularly changing suppliers while they try and achieve the cheapest deal – without recognising that this inconsistency is detrimental for all concerned.
I feel strongly that success as a growing business stems from viewing all relationships as partnerships and giving value wherever possible.
We work closely with suppliers and clients to identify where we can take over elements of their tasks to increase efficiency, even if we don’t expect to pay less or charge more.
I am extremely proud of the partnership we have with our customers, and it’s all down to putting them at the centre of everything the company does. And of course it’s not all about the bottom line; there is nothing more satisfying for you and your staff than a customer being delighted with the work you’ve done.
With the recession leaving a legacy of consumers and businesses demanding more value for their money, customer satisfaction has never been more important.
Those who will thrive will not just make customer service one of the things they do, they will ensure their service delivery is based entirely around the customer.