Reevaluation. It’s a tried and true method to improve your customer service. But how many use this often enough to benefit from its findings? Good question. Sure, each business is different and with specific challenges to be addressed, so the important thing is that you start finding tactics that can make a difference in your business and put them to use right away.
Today’s post will give you 23 service improvement tactics that work. But first, let’s reevaluate your policies and procedures.
Policies and Procedures
How often do you reevaluate your policies and procedures? What steps do you take to enhance the user experience? What changes have you made to determine if “your way” is best versus what your competition is doing? If you’re still using the same old SOPs (standard operating procedures) from years ago you surely are missing opportunities for improvement. To reach optimal performance you must constantly revisit how and why you do a specific task.
A restaurant determines that a specific dish should take 9 minutes from the time-of-order to the plate being served tableside. But, with the new equipment you purchased last year, you’re now able to deliver that dish within 6 minutes. Have you revised your SOPs, or do you leave it at 9 minutes to build-in a cushion in case something goes wrong?
If you leave in the cushion, it’s only a matter of time when your proposed 6-minute order creeps back to 9 minutes. If that happens, you’re robbing your customer of an enhanced experience and one that you’re well prepared to offer. What happens when your competition down the street, who also upgraded their equipment or has similar procedures in place, routinely delivers the same dish within 6 minutes? You’ve lost a valuable competitive advantage because you fail to maintain the highest performance standards possible.
New technology has also allowed for greater efficiency and increased production. Today’s businesses can and must adapt to the ever-changing needs of the marketplace. The old ways of doing business, if allowed to continue, will put you at a disadvantage.
Every business has an obligation to reevaluate its procedures to enhance the customer experience.
Websites and Cookies
Websites continually try to improve. They say so all the time with this statement boldly displayed on their site:
Ok, we all know that’s a load of BS because they certainly care more about selling your personal information than using it to “improve and enhance the user experience”. But businesses can learn from this process if it’s actually used.
Customer Service Improvement Strategies
Identify the “forgotten” parts of business and use these proven methods and tools to reevaluate your business to reach optimal performance.
1. Secret Shoppers – get feedback from friends, relatives, or other businesses.
2. Customer comment cards – sometimes after the shopping is over the customer has a different opinion of the experience.
3. Management round table – start a brainstorming session with your leadership team.
4. Employee suggestions – the people who do the work usually have the best ideas. It’s our job to take their recommendations and act on them.
5. Direct customer feedback – ask your customers for their thoughts while they are still “in-store”.
6. Be your own customer – see what your customer sees; you’d be surprised what you’ll find.
7. Monitor social media mentions and online rating websites – see what others are saying about your business to their circle of influence.
The next step is to reevaluate the following items:
8. Telephone response rate and speed – how quickly are your phones answered and are your customer’s needs taken care of on the first call?
9. Comparison of online sales versus in-store sales – are you putting the best resources into the channel where most of your sales come from?
10. Vendor performance (delivery, returns, product availability) – are you leading the vendors you purchase from or do they lead you?
11. Bulk shipping options – can you save shipping/packaging costs?
12. Comp-set performance – what can you learn when you evaluate the sales and service of the top 5 most comparable businesses to yours?
Costs and Customer Interaction
Use these steps to reevaluate the items with the most direct relation to costs and customer interaction.
13. Employee scheduling during peak times – make the best use of labor and stagger start/end times as needed.
14. Job and position-specific training – employee training must be lead by those responsible for business success, not another hourly employee.
15. Suggestive selling – every sale should potentially lead to the purchase of an associated product.
16. Advertising – are you sending the message that describes your business as you wish and the best way that connects with potential customers?
17. Do you offer multiple methods of payment? – the days of “cash only” are gone.
Your Commitment to Service
18. Identify customer expectations – do you sell what your customers really want?
19. Cross-training – every employee should be able to fill in for at least one other position.
20. Service recovery – do you have detailed plans on how to win-back an upset customer?
21. Equipment or product shortages – do you close your doors, or do you have contingency plans?
22. Prompt response to customer complaints – in today’s economy, customers expect prompt (within 1 hour) response and resolution to their concerns.
23. Management presence on the showroom floor – a manager’s place is with their employees and customers, not holed-up in an office.
When you think about it, this list can be much longer than just 23 items. These aren’t the only improvement steps you should be focusing on. Each business is different with specific challenges to be addressed. The important thing is that you start finding service improvement tactics that work.
So, here’s your homework – Gather your team and brainstorm ideas on ways to reevaluate your methods and enhance the overall customer experience. It’s well worth the effort.