I have always made it clear how much importance I place on CUSTOMER SERVICE. Yes, it’s written with capital letters for a reason; It needs to be given that much focus.
Customer Service doesn’t just extend to existing customers but to all contact you make with someone who has approached you, with an interest in the product or service that you offer.
Great Customer Service is not hard to give but it does require some thought and the willingness of your team to deliver it, every single time. Here are a few principles that I have collected from my experience but also from the experience of others.
The definition of empathy in the Miriam-Webster dictionary is ‘the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner’.
Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author takes this a step further. He identifies three types of empathy, important for all leaders to have in their armoury:
Cognitive Empathy: the ability to understand another's perspective.
Emotional Empathy: the ability to physically feel what another person feels.
Empathic Concern: the ability to sense what another needs from you.
Proactivity (a little more than just initiative).
According to dictionary.com, this is ‘the act, characteristic, or habit of thinking and acting so as to prepare for, intervene in, or control expected events, especially negative or challenging ones.'
When you are proactive, you start anticipating problems that may occur before they are encountered.
From Oxford Learner's Dictionary, this is ‘honest, polite behaviour that follows accepted moral standards and shows respect for others.’
This is one recent bad experience that I personally had in regards to a poor level of customer service. I had gone to the Ford garage, with the intention of attending a 9am test drive slot, to trial a new car I was thinking of purchasing. When I had arrived at the garage, no members of staff were available to greet me and take me to my appointment, instead, I was met with a group of employees chatting, telling me they would be with me shortly. After waiting for twenty minutes, I had lost any interest in the Ford, because nobody seemed particularly keen on the revenue that a car sale might bring, so I decided to just leave. I walked out, with no intention of returning back to Ford for a very long time, and feeling entirely dissatisfied by their complete neglect of all customer service.
Losing trust and reputation is a very quick and easy road to take. The journey back to regaining both of those is a very long and winding road.
Julia Stock is the co-founder of Be Astute. Management Consultants to Ambitious Businesses.