How to Continuously Improve Customer Service
Customer service policies are not meant to be written and then forgotten. They need to be continuously improved on to insure the highest level of service is maintained.
A few months ago I was in a very large retail chain store that everyone has heard of a few minutes before closing time. I got into a relatively short line and waiting for the one cashier to help the two customers in front of me. As I waited, it became apparent that the cashier was having difficulty handling the first customer's purchase and that I wasn't going to be checked out anytime soon. I returned my items back to the shelf and left the store. In the time I waited in line the cashier made no call for help and the line had filled up behind me. As I left the store I noticed that there were at least 15 other employees who were stocking shelves, cleaning up or just talking to each other.
I highly doubt that this large retail chain wants customers giving up and leaving or waiting in line for a long period of time, but in this instance that's exactly what happened. Either policies weren't followed or the currently policies needed to be updated. Customer service policies need to be constantly updated and revised for a company-wide service plan to be successful and there are several helpful ways to make sure this is done effectively.
A suggestion box for customers in the store and online should be implemented. Finding out what is needed directly from the customer is powerful. For every single complaint, you can bet there are ten others who thought the same thing and didn't take the time to write about it. You will find a treasure chest of new ideas and problems that you didn't even know about.
Make it a mandatory policy for every employee to write down every complaint or suggestion that a customer has immediately after talking to them or during the conversation. There should be a specific form for this so that the information is complete and useful to management. This way you never miss anything! Employees are busy and if they aren't required to write anything down it will most likely never be reported.
Once a week, you should solicit suggestions from your employees. This can be done in an anonymous manner so that they will write exactly what they think. Customer service reps will be invaluable to improving service. They are on the front lines and see every customer interaction first hand. They can tell you what is really happening better than any consultant or manager.
If the large retail chain I was in had the policies mentioned here, maybe the would have discovered that large lines always form in the 15 minutes before closing and that a second cashier should be assigned during this time. Through their research they would have found that the service benefit outweighed the other labor needs in the store. They would have gotten my sale that night and maybe more of my business in the future and probably the business of hundreds of others just like me. When it comes to customer service, problems are never isolated.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charlie Bentson King is a writer and producer of motivational training videos for TrainingABC. TrainingABC is a distributor of motivational programs such as Celebrate What's Right with the World and customer service programs such as Give em the Pickle.