We all know about customer service, right? Yes sir, no sir, and three bags full sir. Would you like salad cream with that? How about a diet coke to wash it down with? What of customer management, though? Should we be managing our customers or simply serving them?
Customer service is a concept that is as old as customers themselves. We serve them so as to create a positive experience and increase the chance that they will come back. This is simple, effective and a great way to retain customers for the future.
So, why is customer service often so poor? And even when it’s not what does it matter if someone is smiling when they inform you that you cannot return a broken Microwave because it is one day over the warranty period?
The truth is that customers don’t always want smiling automatons from the people that serve them. They want to deal with people that can provide them with solutions and solve their problems. Studies have shown that customers are more loyal to companies that have handled their complaints well than to companies with which they have had no reason to complain at all. This shows that customers don’t expect businesses to be perfect but want issues that arise to be dealt with promptly and to their satisfaction. They don’t want smiles and niceties; they want to be served by employees that can manage a situation and to some extent, their expectations and perceived outcomes.
Certain industries don’t align themselves with the concept of customer service as well as others. Take for example industries based on extending credit to its customers. A large part of extending credit is saying no. Not all customers meet the criteria all the time and idea of “the customer is always right” just doesn’t fit here. But what a creditor may lack in customer service he or she can sure as hell make up for it in customer management! In this case customer management is all about educating the customer on what exactly they need to do to become eligible. This is time well spent and even upon hearing they are not eligible for credit the customer will appreciate the effort involved on behalf of the member of staff.
Customer management can take on other meanings. Product promotion is one. When serving a customer, it is important that staff members promote other products and services, up-sell and encourage the customer to bring friends and acquaintances to the store. These are often the forgotten parts of customer management as dealing with a customer on your terms means you are managing that customer.
Ensuring customers have a positive experience isn’t just about smiling brightly, saying “have a nice day” and waving good-bye. You need to manage the interaction, manage the expectations of the customer and manage the way in which they perceive the business and the products and services it offers.