Look after your customers and they will look after you

Twice a year the Institute of Customer Service publishes the UK Customer Satisfaction Index which is recognised as the national barometer of customer satisfaction.

Its first report for 2022 made for interesting reading and one of its key findings was the number of people across the UK who are willing to pay more for better service has increased since the beginning of the pandemic.

The willingness to pay more in return for a better service is hugely significant – particularly when millions of us are being more careful about where we spend our money in the light of higher energy bills.

Yet too many UK businesses are still not placing enough emphasis on customer service.

How much of an impact does poor customer service have?

A couple of years ago Ombudsman Services revealed that UK businesses lose about £37 billion every year due to bad customer service.

It found when customers have a bad experience, around a third will spend less on the brand and they’re more likely to move to a rival. They’re also more likely to complain to their friends and leave bad reviews or comments online.

Such experiences are bad for a company’s reputation and ongoing success and can have a negative impact on staff morale and lead to decreased levels of productivity.

Think about your customers’ needs

Having worked with hundreds of clients during the past decade my experience has been if businesses are serious about delivering a high quality customer service, one of the first things they should do is think about their customers’ needs and what they can do to support them.

Examine your business and identify any areas that might cause difficulties for your clients and address them wherever possible. For example, if your business offers high cost services are there ways you can make them more affordable for your customers? Are you able to offer a payment plan so they don’t have to delve into their reserves to pay a large bill from you all in one go?

Another good tip is don’t always assume that you know what your customers’ needs are. It’s well worth investing time to find out from your customers themselves what they need.

Talk to them about the pros and cons of your customer service. If you want to do this more formally you could carry out a survey so you can clearly identify areas where you are offering good customer service and any areas where you might need to strengthen your provision.

Communicate clearly

Have you asked yourself how effective your communication is with your clients? The key thing here is to find the manner of communication that helps your client to understand the value of your service.

Sometimes your bills may be significant – or may need to increase – but if your client can see the value of what you’re providing they will be more likely to agree to those larger bills or price increases.

If you have to explain complex information to clients finding the method of communication which makes the process clear to them can be vital if you want to deliver good customer service.

You may choose to give clients a clear written report explaining your work or one of your experts may want to spend time talking with your clients about the ins and outs of your service. Show them physical examples of your products or even videos of the work you have been doing. Perhaps you will be like us and give your clients all these things if that is what they need to help them understand the value of what you do.

By communicating effectively, you help your client to feel they have a full command of the situation which can make a huge difference to the way they view your customer service.

Make sure you also have a good website and are regularly updating your social media channels so that you are effectively showcasing your offering and highlighting where you go above and beyond to deliver fantastic customer service.

Remember, communication is key and maximize every opportunity to make your customer happy. 

Embrace challenges

Don’t run away from challenges – embrace them! Too many businesses bury their head in the sand when it comes to difficult problems rather than seeing them as an opportunity.

There have been times when I’ve encountered clients with complex challenges, but my experience has been that investing extra time into ensuring customers’ needs are met can make the difference between a one-off interaction and a lifelong relationship.

How can I show that I offer good customer service?

If you address your customers’ needs, communicate effectively with them and help them to overcome the challenges they’re facing with products or services I can guarantee you your customers will be the first to spread the word that you offer good customer service.

If your business is B2B, can you make the time to go networking? This can be a fantastic way of highlighting your customer service offering to a wide variety of businesses.

Gather examples of positive testimonials and share them proudly on your website and social media channels.

Going back to my earlier comments about carrying out a customer survey – when you’ve got evidence that your customer service is valued by clients make a point of spreading that good news through social media, in your communications with clients and around your premises.

Another good way to show you offer great customer service is to be accredited by bodies in your industry which are well known for delivering high standards.

Their endorsement can really help to grow your business by further boosting levels of confidence in your ability to deliver. If you’re linked with respected organisations make sure you also explore any advantages that such links can provide your workforce.

If you do gain a top accreditation – or have other exciting news you want to share – blog about it and share your story with the local, national and trade press. These are great ways to raise your profile and help your organisation to show it is operating at the highest standards.

The results of good customer service

The results of good customer service are that you build relationships with your clients which lead to repeat business and referrals.

If you’re operating on a B2B model you will know that business owners are busy people. They don’t want to keep looking around for new suppliers and service providers to work with so make life easy for them – win their confidence by impressing them with your customer service and you’re all set to begin a relationship that could last for years.

If you’re operating predominantly, in the B2C world, as we do, your excellent customer service could lead to you seeing generations of the same families accessing your services.

Whichever field you’re operating, good customer service is highly likely to result in the growth of not only your reputation but your business.

If your business looks after its customers, the rewards will be countless.

Alex Isherwood
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Alex Isherwood

Alex has more than 20 years of experience in the motor trade and launched his own business – Service MOT Repairs Ltd in Northampton - in 2013. The business has worked with hundreds of clients and had tens of thousands of vehicles through its doors. Under Alex’s leadership the business has become an official Bosch approved service and repair centre, operating to a strict code of practice which ensures clients receive the highest levels of technical and customer service. Its latest innovation has been creation of a service plan which enables customers to pay a monthly fee which allows them to spread the cost of any work.