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    Customer Service Management:

    And the Importance of Customer Value Creation

    The best customer service management comes from significant customer value creation. Find out what your customers want through a customer service test; create customer service scripts to survey your clients and find out what services they value most. Listen to the voice of your customers: ask them what's most important to them. And then deliver on what they need and want.

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    Your customer service management needs to be focused on building a business that is customer-centric. (Don't just say these words: believe them, act on them and train your staff for them.)

    This means that you must develop your organization's culture to value the customer or client.

    How many times do you hear your staff say things that signal their negative, or perhaps neutral, attitude towards buyers? And how many times have you called them on it? How many times have they said negative things that you haven't heard? Good customer service management means leading your staff into a positive attitude towards customers.


    Customer Service Management

    Customer service training experience has shown me that people who have contact with customers:

    • Sometimes get burned out.

    • Are the 'midpoint' between customers and operations (under delivering); between customers and accounting (looking for payment); between customers and the sales representatives (over promising).

    • Need to learn to turn off all the background 'noise' and keep their focus on the reason that they are employed: to provide outstanding service to the customer, to accurately predict the buyer's need, and to consistently and reliably deliver on that need.

    • Sometimes the best way to ensure that your employees use the best approach to delivering service, is to provide them with customer service scripts; that is, scripts that are delivered with customer-focused messaging that provide techniques and tactics for a number of scenarios and that are aligned with the policies and practices of your organization.


    Customer Value Creation

    The pure definition of customer service is to provide service to your customers; the reality is that it is more than that, it is about providing outstanding and amazing service.

    The strength of your efforts on customer value creation will help you to deliver outstanding service. To create value, first develop a customer service test or survey to learn more about what your buyerss want and need.

    Amazing customer service will come from first setting standards or service objectives, then providing customer service training to ensure those objectives are met and achievable, and rewarding employees who exceed the objectives. Develop customer service tips and strategies for your staff.

    Set the standards high. Treat your employees well; they in turn will treat your buyers well (if you're not treating them well, how can they be in the right frame of mind to provide customer service that delights).

    Fill customer service jobs with the right people. Hire employees with a strong customer-, and people-, focused attitude. If you're recruiting employees who have a hard time working with people, or who think that customers are always wrong or trying to get something for nothing, you will not be able to deliver exceptional service (evaluate potential employees by having them take customer service tests that indicate their service strengths and weaknesses).

    Develop your employees to recognize the importance of good customer service; build your job descriptions to reflect the value you place on customer service and build your performance evaluations to deliver recognition for exceptional customer service performance.


    Build a Strong Customer Service Management Program

    Develop Customer Service Scripts

    Good customer service management means that you ensure that your employees understand what you will allow them to do in terms of delivery outstanding service:

    • Do they have the authority to courier a product to the customer (normally would have gone in the mail but you were late in getting the order ready for shipment);

    • Do they have the authority to 'make right' a mistake, and so on. Discuss this with your employees and make sure they understand what you allow and expect them to do within the defined parameters. Do not micromanage the parameters.

    • Do not narrow their decision making ability to the point where they have to ask your permission for solving most of their service issues. They will stop trying to provide a service fix for the problem if they have to ask for your permission each time.

    • Do have your staff log the issues that are resolved, and unresolved; the intent is to review the log on a weekly or monthly basis and see if you can fix internal processes in a proactive way, rather than continuing to have to handle the issues as a reactive fix.

    Your primary goal in customer service management is to enable your staff to have the flexibility, the responsibility and the accountability to resolve your customer service issues and to get their help in customer value creation and delivery.

    Once you have customers coming to you, don't lose them (they may tell a number of their friends and associates why they won't buy from you; even if not true, it is difficult to overcome).

    And it is more expensive to find new customers, than it is to keep your existing customers happy. Providing bad customer service can be the most costly business mistake you can make.

    As a small business owner, you must take the responsibility for your customer service management because it has a significant impact on your overall business growth and success.

    Build strong relationships with your customers and help your employees build strong relationships too.

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    Additional Reading:

    Tips for Better Customer Service

    Why Define Good Customer Service?

    Good Customer Service

    Customer Tracking Software

    How you define customer service can have an impact on the level of support you provide.

    Why is Customer Service Important?

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    Effectively Manage Your Efforts

    Focus your customer service efforts on the highest value activities; these are the actions that will provide your business with the best return on your investment of resources.

    Review your sales by customer at the product or service level (by type). Then analyze your direct and full costs by product or service.

    Your goal in gathering, and then analyzing, the numbers is to compare the costs by products and services and then by customers; you want to know which products and services are the lowest cost and which customers provide your business with the best value.

    This will help you focus your business resources to provide the most service and support to high value customers.

    What's the gross profit margin by customer? Rank your customers not only by total sales but by profitability; and by sales by product or service.

    If you have specific products or services that you know are more profitable than others you will want to focus your attention on the customers buying those more profitable items and/or you will want to encourage customers to buy more of the profitable product or service lines.

    Note: A number of accounting software systems provide the capability to run these reports quickly and easily.

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    Delighting Customers

    Providing customer service that consistently delights (rather than just satisfies) results in long term customers.

    Your business' commitment to exceptional quality; the reliability and consistency of your service (your customers like to know that they can expect the same product or service, and the same level of support, on each and every order); and highly trained and knowledgeable staff are all key attributes to developing successful relationships with your customers.

    Focus your business on more than satisfying customers; make delight a number one goal.

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