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>Businesses should not fool themselves that they have a service excellence program or even more delusional that their “customers all love them”, because they ask the perfunctory check out question “how was your service?” At this stage of the transaction most customers are looking for a quick exit and not interested in arguing over best management practices. Most men know or learn quickly that when a girlfriend or wife asks, “does this outfit make me look fat”, a lengthy critique of her weight is not being solicited.

A true Service Excellence process starts with a commitment by top management to create a culture that prioritizes customer service. An assessment of the total organization is conducted with a plan to bring about lasting change. It must be integrated into every aspect of the business including the recruitment process, orientation and training, recognition and performance appraisals. Continuous communication of the importance of excellent service on a personal level to all employees and their involvement in measuring an aspect of service they can control must be included.

Research shows 10 – 30% of an organization’s customers annually leave due to poor service. Most businesses don’t recognize this fact because they are so busy masking it by bringing in new customers. They also don’t recognize it because most customers don’t shout, yell and make a big deal about the poor service they received, they just don’t come back!

So, don’t trust buyers to tell you the truth at the end of a transaction. Start calling your best customers now and ask them why they continue to do business with you. Also, ask what annoys or hassles them in doing business with you. Then, go back to your organization and look for ways to “inculturate” the excellent service and remove the barriers that create the poor service.

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