Customer Retention: Three Essentials for Excellent Customer Service
As every good direct marketer knows, it’s less costly to keep old customers coming back rather than it is to bring new customers into the fold. And the only way to keep those old customers loyal is to provide excellent customer service, writes John Tschohl, president of the Service Quality Institute and author of the recently published book, “Loyal for Life: How to Take Unhappy Customers From Hell to Heaven in 60 Seconds or Less.” Below are three elements Tschohl believes are critical to a sound customer service strategy:
1. Hire good employees and treat them well. “Service leaders spend 30 percent to 50 percent of their time selecting, coaching and managing people,” Tschohl writes. Because customer service reps or any customer-facing employees provide the best opportunity to show your customers how important they are, invest the time to ensure that the people you hire are the best people for the job. Tschohl points out that excellent customer service organizations typically hire only one out of every 50 applicants.
2. Empower your CSRs to make decisions. Your customer-facing employees need the authority to use their common sense to bend and break the rules to take care of the customer, Tschohl notes. If frontline employees aren’t empowered to make the decisions necessary to satisfy a disgruntled customer, you lose service recovery and the opportunity to build loyalty through adversity.
3. Constantly train employees in the art of service. “Too many companies train their employees once -- right after they’re hired -- and expect them to be customer service stars for the rest of their lives,” the author points out. Tschohl suggests that managers spend 40 hours per year training and developing each member of their customer service team. He adds that a new training program should be implemented every six months. “Customer service training is needed in order to change behaviors and attitudes,” he writes. “That teaches and reinforces the skills necessary to provide superior service.”