Customers are the reason we are in business and customer satisfaction is what keeps them coming back. It takes a tremendous effort to gain a new customer and only seconds to lose one. Service must be exemplary if we want to sustain and grow our customer base and ultimately our business.
Mission: Exceed Customer Expectations
Is it really possible to EXCEED customer expectations? How can you exceed customer expectations when the expectation is 100% Quality Products at the lowest possible cost, Delivered On Time – In Full?
Consider the fast food industry. Many popular Fast Food companies offer drive through service. The expectation is that we will get what we ordered and receive the correct change when we pay. This is the service rendered and expectations have been met (provided of course that the quality of the food is also upto our expectations).
Every customer expects to be treated like …
… a customer or at least a human being. It could be argued that employees are expected to be kind, courteous, and cheerful while serving the customer. These attributes of good customer service may also be clearly defined in the “customer service” clause of their respective employment standards or published in the “Who is OUR Customer” poster. Instead of doing it because it’s the right thing to do, good customer service is now a condition for continued employment.
Vending machines can provide similar services without the human touch. When Vending machines fail to deliver what we paid for they are slammed, cursed, tilted, shaken, and kicked. When people fail to deliver, we write letters, attempt to talk to management, or we simply don’t go back.
Mission: We Will Enhance Customer Expectations
Some employees are exemplary – courteous, kind (at a minimum they at least say thank you, have a nice day), and are very efficient. Some employees are on the opposite end of the spectrum – almost as though our presence is an inconvenience.
Do you ever feel like you are being served by “the hand”? For some of us, the first person (or hand) we see in the morning is the one at the drive through window. Can this person make or break your day? Likely not, but they can at least enhance the experience with a friendly “Good morning and have a nice day”.
What is the point of this post? The customer perceives VALUE based on the full service experience. The people in customer service can make or break the customer’s experience with your product or service. VALUE is worth more than simply meeting Cost Objectives and Performance Expectations. Value and Cost are not equal.
Someone may VALUE your opinion although they wouldn’t necessarily pay you for it. The expression “let me give you my 2 cents on this” comes to mind.
How do you enhance customer satisfaction?
Major food chains and retailers are constantly looking for customer feedback. You may even be enticed to complete the “How did we do today” survey by an offer to discount your next purchase.
10 Ways to Enhance Customer Satisfaction
- Communicate. Communication with the customer is the key to enhancing customer satisfaction. Follow Up and Follow Through to assure and confirm expectations have been satisfied.
- Be Confident. Customers like to deal with people who know what they are doing. We don’t want to hear, “This is my first time doing this so …”
- Be Professional. The customer is always right – even when they are wrong.
- Build Customer Confidence. Your performance and ability to meet the customers’ needs will re-assure them that they have made the right decision.
- Build Value (Reputation). Be effective and perform efficiently: Everyone wants the best lawyer or the best doctor. “We have the best person on it.”
- Ask the customer. Is there anything else we can do for you today? This suggests that you are able to do more if necessary. The customer may just say, “Not today, but may be next time.” At least you know they’ll may be back versus NEVER.
- Don’t send out surveys. There are many ways to measure customer satisfaction without sending surveys. “Paying” someone to provide an opinion may even change it. “Will I still get a free lunch if I tell you what I’m really thinking?” Remember the Vending Machine example from above? The vending machine knows exactly how poor performance looks and feels.
- Be THE Solution. We coined a phrase some time ago – “Thinking so you don’t have to.” Take away the problem and be the solution.
- Thank You. Show your customers that you appreciate their business. It may be as easy as saying “Thank You for Your Business.”
- Smile – Whether the customer can see you or not – SMILE. Studies have suggested that people know or can sense when other people are smiling. We can’t quote a source for this statement, however, smiling is also good for you.
How does this relate to LEAN? Poor customer service will kill any business. At that time it doesn’t matter how efficient or lean your operation is. Most lean operations “present” very well. The cleanliness and organization of the operation suggests a degree of sophistication and a real sense of “we know what we’re doing.” Unfortunately, the customer experience may not include tours of your operation.
Until Next Time – STAY Lean!