7 Standards of Service Excellence: Creating World-Class Customer Service Through High-Touch Interactions
Today’s most successful businesses share one common theme: world-class customer service. No matter how you look at it, an organization is only as successful as its clients, and although success comes in many different forms, experience and service are likely at the top of your clients’ lists.
Think about it…you could offer the best product or service in the world but provide little to no consideration for the clients who purchase it. With a fleet of unhappy, disgruntled clients, your chances of sustainable, long-term success are likely non-existent. Today’s consumer is afforded ample platforms to choose from to share just how unhappy they are. Not to mention, with the old adage that an unhappy customer will share his sentiments with 10 others, service has to become a top priority for your organization to thrive.
World-class customer service requires that a set plan or process be in place. This plan enables you to develop a cohesive, consistent mission for your team to rally behind. Your plan should focus on internal and external mechanisms to boost the overall service and experience aspects of your business. Consider the following service standards when reviewing your plan:
Support. The main reason a client comes to a company is because they need support from experts to accomplish a goal. As an entrepreneurial organization, we know that a lot of our core audience is CEOs, business owners, and serial entrepreneurs who are looking for guidance and expertise. Because of this, we place a heavy focus on offering support to our authors, meeting them where they are. What does this mean? We create systems and roadmaps so our clients know what to expect and are informed about our service and process. We also ensure that our clients know our team and who their point of contact is for questions, requests, and comments. In fact, with another year of incredible growth, we’ve brought on team members who are dedicated to customer service and success, acting as an ally and guide to assist clients throughout their publishing journey.
Educate. Education is key to building a thriving relationship between service organizations and their clients. Although much of what you provide is based on the education and expertise of your team, creating supplemental materials to educate your clients will enable them to take full advantage of the services you offer. Client education can come in many shapes and sizes but some opportunities we rely on include our quarterly magazine (which you can read here), weekly blog posts (which you are reading now), monthly teleseminars, periodic webinars, annual summits or conferences, and our full-day immersion sessions where clients visit our office, meet with key team members, and participate in sessions on book writing, editorial, graphic design, marketing, and so much more. Because everyone learns differently, offering a wide and varied approach to providing client education enables you to hit all marks for all client types.
Respect. Respect in business means just as much to the service provider as it does to the client. Building mutual trust and respect enables both parties to forge a strong bond and open dialogue to work toward a mutually beneficial result. One key to maintaining respect with your clients is to embrace diversity and know that no two clients are alike. Treating each client with consideration, care, and commitment shows how much you value their support. The saying goes that diversity leads to stability, which rings true to your client base especially. Along with respect is the sentiment of appreciation, showing your clients that you value their support and their feedback. It might sound silly, but business relationships are very much like marriages and I’m sure we can all agree no marriage is safe without a foundation of respect.
Validate. Validation for a business is knowing that your clients are satisfied, that the work delivered was quality, and that they ultimately made the right choice. By creating and maintaining confidence from your clients, you are reinforcing the values and services that were sold to them. This sense of confidence enables your clients to see your relationship in less of a transactional way and as more of a long-term partnership. One way to reinforce this sense of validation is to continuously confirm your client’s choice in working with you, both verbally and also through the physical deliverable. With a focus on this standard, you will naturally improve the quality of your deliverable or product, simply based on the commitment you have to your client’s sense of satisfaction.
Inspire. Inspiration comes in many forms, but is always an underlying factor in the investment of a client, both in time and finances. To build partnerships, an organization must offer insight, direction, advice, and solutions, all of which are rooted in the client’s specific goals. Providing words of wisdom and challenging clients to continue to excel all enable your organization to become a beacon of inspiration. Many find stories as sources of inspiration, especially during the research phase of sourcing a new service organization or vendor. To set the bar early for a prospect, leverage the success stories of your clients, through testimonials, video profiles, and case studies, and soon you will see that social proof goes a long way in inspiring your clients, both prospective and current.
Cultivate. If you look at technology giant, Apple, singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, or author Robert Kiyosaki, although widely varied businesses, all have created a cult-like following. In that following are communities of fans and followers who come together to support a common interest. How cool would it be to create that for your customers? Easier said than done, huh? Maybe not. Some of the ways you can build community around your product or company is to enable your clients to communicate with you and other clients. Some of the most exciting stories of experience come from one client sharing their successes with another; this dialogue is priceless. In order to cultivate your client base, commit to creating opportunities both in a live sense and online, that offer interaction, sharing, and general dialogue. Examples of activities to accomplish this are webinars, teleseminars, live events, online forums, and social media.
Engage. One of the most critical steps to creating world-class customer service is to engage with your client base through a variety of means. Initiating conversation is the base principle of engagement, but the sophisticated methods to open dialogue go beyond phone calls and emails. Every opportunity you have to touch or connect with your clients enables you to show how much you value them, and not just their business, but their support and feedback.
Whether you’re recommitting to focus on service in the new year, or just looking to fine tune what has made your organization one of unparalleled service, these seven standards are examples of ways to create a plan, build a mission, and rally your team around enhancing the service allowing them to experience all aspects of your business.
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