Musthafa Ebadi
The Basics of Service Excellence!
by Musthafa Ebadi on August 25th, 2011

Sunday, November 7, 2010

By definition Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.

According to Jamier L. Scott. (2002),“Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation."

To me in today's world meeting customer expectation isn’t enough. We should be constantly providing service excellence in order to justify the cost of service or product, build loyalty, generate repeat business, stay ahead of competition, and above all deliver value.

Good customer service adds value! There's no way around it. No shortcuts.

As Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) defines Service is a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating outcomes customers want to achieve without the ownership of specific cost and risks.

Service Excellence is all about bringing your customers back, helping them gravitate to continue their partnership with you, and be champion of your products and services.

Customers demand value for their money, or they are out of the door. Yet we come across so many bulletins, discussions, tweets, and online posts where the customer are not happy with service or what I call not getting the value for their invested dollars.

In order to exceed your customer expectations you don’t have to break the bank. Just follow the basic rules outlined below, make them part your service DNA, and you will always surpass your clients expectations.

1:) Take Ownership.

Over years that studies have showed that if a client is reaching out to you, it’s because they have a problem or an issue. One of the easiest ways to build trust and a good relationship is for you to take ownership of their issue and assure them that you will get to the bottom of it.
Even if it’s not your responsibility or doesn’t fall in your department you can still retain the ownership. You don't always have to do the work but rather make sure the work is done, those who are supposed to do it are doing it, and the clients are informed of progress and/or resolution.

2:) Listen to your customers.

The most frustrating thing for a customer is to tell you what they want or what their problem is, and then discover that that you are not paying attention or we not actively listening? At that point on a scale of 1 - 10 you will start your interaction at 1, and climbing out of that hole is tougher than Toronto Maple Leafs winning the Stanley Cup!
Let your customers talk and show them that you are listening by using appropriate acknowledgement. When customers are describing their problems sincere empathy is your best friend.

3:) Empower & train your staff to own Service Excellence

If your staff is not empowered, equipped, or allowed to provide service excellence you have a bigger issue at hand. Over the last 11 years that I have been in service industry I have seen both sides of the spectrum, and usually the organizations that don’t empower their staff are focused on short term gain and are ignoring the long term implications.
On the other hand organizations that have incorporated service excellence in their DNAs will reap the benefits of providing “legendary service” for years to come in terms of recurring business, positive reviews, marketing through word of mouth – extremely effective and unbelievably inexpensive!

4:) Don’t make promises unless you will keep them.

Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship, and good service is no exception. If you say, “Your service will resume in 4 hours" then make sure it is resumed within 4 hours. Otherwise, don’t say it.
The same rule applies to client appointments, deadlines, etc. Think before you give any promise – because nothing corrodes and erodes your credibility faster than an unfulfilled commitment.

5:) Deal with complaints.

No one likes hearing complaints, and many of us have developed a reflex shrug, saying, “You can’t please all the people all the time”. Maybe not, but if you give the complaint your attention, you may be able to please this one person this one time - and position your business to reap the benefits of good customer service.

6:) Have Service Focused organization.

Make Service Excellence the motto of your organization and you will never regret. Get your staff to always think about how to go above and beyond and provide that extra level of service. Demonstrate, educate, and train your staff on importance of “legendary” service, and give them all the tools and opportunities needed to provide such a service. For those who aren't willing to grasp, don't believe in importance of service excellence, and lack high Service IQ then you have some decisions to make.

7:) Survey your clients.

Have customer survey program in place to let your customers tell you how you are performing.
Provide them with sections to not only rate your service and value but also sections where you encourage them to comment on their experience and their suggestions for improving your service or product even more. Gather their suggestions and recommendations and then act on them.

Remember Customer’s perception is reality!

You can find thousand of case studies and articles on a click of a button where legendary customer service has driven repeat and extra business and has led to higher than expected revenue generation.

And according to Musthafa Ebadi if you are meeting and exceeding your revenue targets and your Gross Margin you will have the ability to do things that will drive up your employee satisfaction such as relevant rewards and recognition, improving perks, affording performance appraisals, compensating more than your competition to retain your top talent.

If you have top talent and happy employees who buy into your blue print of offering legendary service then you will ultimately have satisfied customers.

Hence Employee Satisfaction leads to Client Satisfaction leads to Higher Profitability leads to Employee Satisfaction leads to Client Satisfaction and on and on and on. What I call a three legged stool: ESAT, CSAT, and Profitability. Balancing these three legs of your three legged stool is the most crucial job in your organization and how you achieve this balance is my secret sauce that has contributed to my success over the years!

Thanks for Reading.

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