Where Does Great Customer Service Begin?
One of my clients is a niche retailer. They’ve been in business 40 years, establishing themselves in the market. They’ve done this by serving their customers and meeting their needs. Although they’re known for customer service, I was retained to identify opportunities to improve their customer service. What does that say about an organization, already known for excellence, investing in improvement? We could all learn from this thought process.

Before I began working with the team, I spent several hours incognito observing their interaction with customers. I can’t recall a group more knowledgeable and helpful than this team—once they engaged the customer. This was an opportunity for improvement. Employees were often caught up in their tasks and unaware of customers. It wasn’t intentional—like so many retail outlets today where the customer is treated as an inconvenience; it was a lack of prioritization. The bottom line is—regardless of the task at hand, without customers, we’re all out of business.

I’m working with the team on being aware of their surroundings, maintaining a customer-first attitude, and having fun. We’re making progress.

Are You Aware of Your Customers?

Regardless of your business—retail or wholesale, tangible or intangible, brick and mortar or online—your number one priority should be your customers. Are they? Do you allow tasks to get in the way of serving customers? You may be excellent at helping your customers once you engage them, but what do customers have to do to gain your attention? Are YOU aware of YOUR customers?

• Prioritize customers first – Great customer service begins by being aware of your customer, reaching out to them and asking, “How can I help you?” By learning their needs, you can focus on helping them. Don’t try to solve the problem you want to solve—solve the problem they have.

• Distribute customer service surveys – Online, in store, or F2F, ask your customers open-ended questions about improving your service. What can we improve? How can we better serve you? What would make us easier to work with? What do we do that frustrates you?

• Open up dialogue – Promote conversations on social media, add a suggestion box in your outlet, and send an email or newsletter asking for customer input.

• Promote in-house customer service initiatives – Offer training, run an employee contest recognizing outstanding customer service, and be aware of opportunities to improve.

The next time you’re being ignored while patiently waiting at a customer service kiosk—stop and reflect—are you aware of your customers?

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