Whether you’re in the rental/staging markets, home theater, enterprise level integrator or and IT Manager; offering superior customer service is imperative to the success of your organization. Customer Service is more than just responding to negative feedback, following up on customers’ needs and satisfying requests. Consistently excellent customer service is creating experiences for clients that cause them to become cheerleaders and advertisers for your business. There are five easy ways to create excellent customer service experiences, position your company to have repeat high dollar transactions and leave your organization well poised to be recommended by your clients.
1. Do What the Customer Doesn’t Expect
It’s common sense, and simple business etiquette to completely satisfy customers’ requests. Exceeding Customer expectations is what makes the difference. Having worked in higher-ed I’ve worked with multiple integrators and resellers, what stood out for me, are the little things. I hired an integrator to implement an AV design for an 11-classroom building, I created a detailed scope of work with highly specific requirements, I expected it to be filled. This integrator fulfilled each requirement and they also provided me with substantial information I didn’t request such as all pieces of equipment’s serial numbers, warranty date and estimated end of life date in a convenient, easy-to-read spreadsheet, and applied the asset tags I was going to have to add to each piece of equipment. This small, unrequested, task saved me a good number (20+) of hours in recording and inventory management. Though I didn’t specifically ask for this information the provision of it was incredibly valuable to me as a customer.
2. Be Honest with Your Customer, But Respectful
Joshua Stackhouse wrote an article recently with this as the first point; but it bears repeating. Customers and clients often have a vague or broad idea of what they want in their project. Clients may want the latest and greatest, while not knowing exactly how that will impact their environment. While I love to give my clients everything they ask for, especially if they have the budget to afford it; I can’t, in good conscious, recommend they move forward with anything that doesn’t fit in their existing environment. Exceeding customer expectations can mean considering the whole of the existing environment.
It’s also imperative to be honest with your clients when communicating expectations regarding timeframe. A few years ago, I designed a system, sent it out to bid and asked the integrators to provide a detailed timeframe for completion. The vendor I selected timeframe was XX days. Imagine my surprise when two weeks after XX days had passed and we were still going back on forth on systems not functioning as they were described in the scope of work. It is imperative, in order to deliver exceptional customer service, to complete projects on time, and to be honest about timeframes.
3. Communicate Quickly
In my experience, as a consultant and as a customer, returning correspondence or phone calls is best done promptly. Whether I’m fielding requests from a client or waiting on information from an integrator, communication needs to be quick. I’ve learned something as simple as returning a phone call or email with “I got your email, I’m working on another site today, but I’ll touch base with you first thing tomorrow.” Simple communication allows the customer to know their request was received, and provides them with a timeframe to hear back from you. Good communication skills and practices can cement a culture of exceptional customer service experiences
4. Support Your Existing Projects
One of the more interesting challenges I’ve had as a consultant is how to budget my time between new projects and supporting existing projects. The decision to support existing projects with an equal priority as bidding on new projects really helped me grow my business. At the time it seemed counterintuitive to make this decision, but it turned my existing customers into my best advertisers by providing service “above and beyond” what my customers expected.
5. Offer Your Client a “Test Drive”
As an integrator, if you’re designing a system for a client, offer to connect them with someone who has a similar system. Give your customers the options to connect with existing users and find out what they like and don’t like about their systems. This is a simple step, which goes a long way. The more information placed in the end-user’s hands the better. Equip your customers to make informed decisions, and they’ll become cheerleaders and advertisers for your business.