Today, we seem to be bombarded constantly with news of the difficulties faced by business. A stock market struggling to recover from an almost unprecedented bear run, falling industrial investment, more bureaucracy, credit worries and high street spending in decline – are we in recession, or is it merely a ‘severe downturn'?
To overcome these pressures, it demands commitment, hard work and an obsession with customer service.
Here are eight proven principles you can use:
1. Understand how your customers' expectations are changing over time. What was good enough last year may not be good enough now.
2. Use quality service to differentiate your business from your competition. Make a real difference by providing personalised, responsive and "extra-mile service" that stands out in a unique way which customers will appreciate and remember.
3. Set and achieve high service standards. Go beyond basic and expected levels of service to provide your customers with desired and even surprising interactions.
4. Learn to manage your customer's expectations. You can't always give customers everything their hearts desire. Sometimes you need to bring their expectations into line with what you know you can deliver.
5. Bounce back with effective service recovery. Sometimes things do go wrong. When it happens to your customers, do everything you can to make things right again, as soon as possible.
6. Appreciate your complaining customers. Customers with complaints can be your best allies in building and improving your business. They point out where your system is faulty, and where procedures are weak or problematic.
7. Take personal responsibility. In many organisations, people are quick to blame others for problems or difficulties at work: managers blame staff, staff blame managers, engineering blames sales, sales blames marketing and everyone blames finance. This doesn't help. In fact, with all the finger-pointing going on it tends to make things worse.
8. Make time to stand on the other side of the counter or listen on the other end of the phone. Be a "mystery shopper" at your own place of business. Or be a customer for your competition. What you will notice is what your customers experience every day!