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The True Value of Customer Service

October 3, 2011

One of my favorite things about living in what I consider a small community is the personalized service I have received over the years from various companies I frequent.  This past weekend I was greatly impressed when a season ticket sales representative for the LA Galaxy contacted me and asked if we could meet to discuss our needs and how they might help us meet them.  I had had good customer service from their organization previously, but was impressed that this person was willing to take the extra step and meet with me personally to show us how we could benefit from their offerings.  Although we were already partial season ticket holders, the organization was willing to make the extra effort to keep our business and make me feel like I was an important part of their success.

So, this great customer service experience made me want to share with you my thoughts on what it means to provide great customer service.  Let me start by sharing a list of the basic customer needs and expectations I recently found in an article by Mary White on the Love to Know website in the business section:

  • Personal recognition: Customers want to be treated as valued individuals. No one wants to be treated like they’re “just a number”.
  • Courteous treatment: Treating customers courteously is something that should be a given without question. There’s no excuse for being rude, particularly to someone who is considering doing business with you.
  • Respect: While it’s a fact that customers are not always right, it is also true that there is no situation in which it is acceptable to treat your customers with a lack of respect.
  • Empathy: Customers appreciate it when you take the time to try to look at the situation from their perspective. If you really want to define customer service in a manner that’s specific to your business, step back and look at your business processes through your customers’ eyes.
  • Understanding: Customers need to be understood. The best way for you to demonstrate understanding to your customers is to listen to them. Don’t interrupt when they are trying to explain their needs to you. Demonstrate
    respect by listening and trying to understand.
  • Patience: Being patient with customers is a great way to demonstrate respect. Stay on task, but don’t rush them. When a customer is in front of you, he or she deserves your full attention.
  • Professionalism: No matter what kind of day you might be having, your personal issues are not the concern of your customers. Remain positive and professional in all customer interactions. The way you act when you’re with your customers will have an impact on how they judge the professional tone of your company as a whole.

This list covered many of the qualities that I find vital when dealing with my clients.  One of the most important things as a consultant is creating a relationship with your client.  Get to know what is important to them. How can you accomplish this?  Start with listening and stop trying to get the “hard sale”.   Treat your clients with respect and they will be more likely to respect you back.  And most importantly, always be professional.  In our society where business suits and conference rooms are quickly being replaced with jeans and Skype Video Chats, we need to remember that when we are dealing with clients, they are always still the client and it is your reponsibility to treat them as such.

So today, remember if you provide excellent customer service, the true value will come in knowing you have done the best job you can!

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