A company’s most vital asset is its employees. Without them, we would not and could not exist in business. Another key asset for every company is its customers. When you take a long-term partnership view and satisfy customers with quality care, service, and solutions, they not only fuel growth by continuing to do business with you but recommend you to friends, partners, and networks. As one recent CEO told me: “Walk in my shoes, feel my pain.” What an impactful statement. In order to make this a reality within any business, the mission of the entire organization must be clear: “Listen and take great care of our customers and friends.” Having successful and productive clients elevates the value of your service, of trust, and of your consumer, and employer, brands. In today’s ever-changing business climate, these key fundamental principles are staples that stand the test of time.
At SmartLinx, we apply a core set of guiding principles throughout our organization. The application of these to how we service our clients paid significant dividends with recognition by the American Business Awards and their prestigious first place, Golden Stevie Award for Customer Service Management Team of the Year, in early March 2016.
Businesses serve customer needs, but his can only be accomplished if they understand know what it is their customers want. The customer makes a strategic investment in the people, and the solutions of the business. The service and support offered by the business are crucial to the life cycle of the “Customer Service Experience.” When you truly listen to your customers, have dual sponsorship alignment, they let you know what they want and how you can provide great and consistent service and support.
Having strong leaders within your organization that carry a service-driven philosophy will transcend throughout teams and build a lasting culture of passion, conviction, and fact-based positive business outcomes for your customers. The following are core daily fundamentals we practice across SmartLinx to ensure a Customer Service Experience that humbly, our customers so richly deserve.
Be a great listener and long-term partner. During the Customer Service Experience lifecycle, building personal relationships, establishing mutual trust, and successful business outcomes, all start with being a great listener. From your Business Development and Sales team members, to your Service, Support, and Training teams, the culture of listening is a must. Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. Listen to their words, the tone and inflection of their voice, body language, facial expressions, and most importantly, how they feel. Do you know what three things are most important to your customer? Effective listening and undivided attention are crucial in understanding the pulse of the customer. Be careful of preoccupation! Put the phone and tablets away to avoid text messaging, emails, other distractions that impact your ability to listen and understand what the customer is really saying.
Make customers feel appreciated. During any business to business relationship, people who make decisions, drive programs and projects, act as the sponsor, influencers, and team members with goals, are all in place to continually improve the efficiency and performance of the business. When dealing with customers, treat them as individuals. Always use their first name and find ways to compliment them, but be authentic and sincere. People value sincerity and can usually tell when someone is being phony. Being humble and showing appreciation, creates trust. Customers are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. Thank them every time you get a chance and let them know you will work hard each day to continually earn their business.
Teach and Lead. Help customers understand your service approach, delivery and training models. Help your customer to understand your business systems and applications. Your organization may have great systems for getting tasks done through automation, but if customers don’t understand them, they can get confused, frustrated and angry. Take time to explain how your systems work and how they simplify transactions. Continue to drive home the business value and the positive personal impact that your solutions will deliver to your customer. If a customer perceives your products as hard to use, it will cause stress to the partnership.
Feedback and Measurement. Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve. At SmartLinx, we have systems in place that provide customers several methods of providing feedback on our people, products, and services. The never-ending goal of constant feedback, measurement of satisfaction, closing gaps to ensure more effective and consistent results, will yield strong dividends and high customer satisfaction rankings. Consider sharing this information with your customers on Quarterly Business Reviews, to ensure you are listening and working to earn their business.
Treat employees GREAT! Employees are your internal customers and sincere appreciation goes a long way and lasts a long time. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. When a customer delivers praise, or other team members point out individual contributions that have a positive impact internally and externally, acknowledge and thank those who stand out. Treat your employees with respect, class, dignity, and chances are they will have a higher regard for customers. Appreciation and gratitude stems from the top. Treating customers and employees well is equally important.