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Even in our lightning-paced, 24/7, device-driven world, a few things will never go out of style — like a firm handshake, a sincere compliment and service with a smile. Sounds quaint, I realize, but think about it: how are you treated at your favorite coffee shop, restaurant, clothing store? Chances are, any place where you willingly spend your money time and again probably has a staff that treats you well. Why else would you go there, when there are so many other choices available?

So maybe quaint is not so bad. In fact, when we’re talking about achieving excellence in customer service, maybe quaint is actually good. And when it comes to your business, where you expect your customers to spend their time and money, why would you expect them to stick around if your customer service isn’t the best in the neighborhood?

Would you stick around?

According to a recent research study completed by Oracle, 73% of customers cited friendly employees or service reps as the key factor that influences their loyalty to a business.* Furthermore, 86% of customers said they are willing to pay more for a better experience.   Did you catch that? People are willing to pay more for a better customer service experience.

How would you rate your client’s service experience? Do you know for sure what your clients think of your customer service? Or, if you’re honest with yourself, do you even have any real idea at all? This is one of the most important factors in retaining your customers for the long-term: how much time have you spent training your associates on the basics of good, friendly customer service or actually asking customers what they think?

Interestingly, the same study showed that only 1% of respondents indicated that their expectations for a good experience were met 100% of the time. Which leads me to this question — with customer service being such an important factor in determining customer satisfaction, why have so few businesses been able to achieve loyalty as a result of their service?

Part of the issue may be insufficient training in, or even awareness of, the importance of friendly service; the other part may be the result of lack of service representative availability. The study stated that 58% of customers indicated that their expectations for good customer service were not met because the company was not available by phone or email. Having a great customer-focused call center can be a real asset for a company of any size. If your associates are equipped with the right tools and information and, if they are empowered to act and resolve issues on behalf of clients, they can help to create the kind of loyalty this study is referencing. It goes on to state that 56% of companies are slow to respond or resolve issues — more than half. Clearly, that’s just unacceptable. call-center-agents

The point here is that it only takes mastering 3 things to stand out from the crowd in the customer service space and create customer loyalty:

  1. Train, support and reward a friendly customer service staff
  2. Provide a consistently good experience, at every touch point (e.g. in person, on the phone,online and on social media like Twitter and Facebook
  3. Respond to and resolve issues quickly

The good news is that 99% of companies fail to achieve this! So there’s lots of room at the top — and that’s where you should be.

Don’t be one of the 99%. With the right training and focus, you can achieve highly available, friendly service, that consistently responds to and resolves customer issues. No matter what your business model is, you can achieve this goal. For help, check out our Customer Service Excellence Program at www.visible-progress.com.