Customer Service Philosophy
Customer service is the bedrock of a successful, growing and sustainable business. Meeting the needs of customers is a continual process of learning and application to ensure your customers are satisfied, that they want to come back and will tell others how good your business is.
No matter the industry you are in great customer service has 3 fundamental elements:
- A service philosophy
- Committed, engaged and trained staff with the right attributes
- A system for delivering a great customer experience
In this article we will deal with the first of these, with the others being the subject of separate posts in the service section.
Service philosophy underpins everything that the business does for its customers. Some guiding principles of a great customer service mindset include:
- Generosity of spirit
- The customer at the centre
- The Golden Rule
- Service = sales
Generosity of spirit
When you interact with other human beings your own mindset will have a lot to do with both your own experience and that of your customer. We have all experienced situations as customers where we were treated poorly, but whether through lack of time, a poor attitude, selfishness or plain lack of awareness on the part of staff we had a frustrating experience.
Adopting a mindset that taking the time to listen, to show concern and to be generous to your customer will pay off. Customers remember the way they were ignored, or put off by an attitude of “don’t talk to me I’m busy” by staff. You can afford to be generous with your time and attention; you can also afford to give a little something occasionally just to demonstrate your gratitude to your customer.
This also means that if you have decided to do a special deal or offer for a customer, don’t feel resentful if they take advantage of it; remember you are in business for the long haul and good things multiply over time.
The customer at the centre
The customer is the reason why the business exists and why you as the business owner and staff have jobs.
Business is at bottom about solving problems for customers in exchange for money. Often, businesses can create problems for their customers, which is a guaranteed way to go out of business.
Keeping this front and centre of your philosophy is critical. Enjoy the challenge presented by finding solutions to your customers’ problems, take the view that you’ve got their back and it will show up in how you deliver.
You can operate from a perspective of your profitability being more important to you than the customer’s happiness, or you can flip it around. Whichever one you choose will guide your mindset and actions in the business. Long term, putting the customer first will deliver greater returns.
The Golden Rule
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
There are many variants on this theme which all come down to empathy – putting yourself as best you can in the customer’s place and seeing how it feels from their perspective.
Don’t like to be ignored when you walk into a store, restaurant or other business premises? Neither does your customer.
Don’t like to hear lame excuses about why what was promised was not delivered? Neither does your customer.
Don’t like to be made to feel like you are a nuisance or getting in the way of staff? Neither does your customer.
When we treat people the way we would like to be treated, it means doing so even if it isn’t reciprocated. Remember this is about your business philosophy and isn’t subject to variation depending on who you are dealing with.
Service = sales
The best form of selling is to give great service, for 3 key reasons:
- Someone who buys from you and has a good experience will buy again and/or buy more
- Great service builds a relationship of trust that can be a great platform for more sales
- More referrals can be generated from happy customers
When you have built a good relationship with your customer, you have “earned the right” to ask for more under the right circumstances. Selling upgrades or related products is much easier when you start with someone who has already bought in to your business, and because they know you and you know them, they will be more open to suggestions for new products.