How Quality Customer Service Can Boost Your Profits

It’s a new fiscal year for a lot of businesses. Targets are being set. Commitments are agreed. Customers are made promises.

And the big question that businesses face is how can they expect to grow and generate more revenue from their customer base and new customers if their customer service is not set at the highest of standards?

So, let’s take a step back and ask ourselves, what we can do to improve our service standard. I know it’s not rocket science, create happy customers and we’ll be the beneficiaries of their future business, right?

That’s all fine in theory, however, the customer service fundamentals need to be firmly embedded in the company culture. The service team needs to live, breathe and exude these principles and it must come across as positive in every single customer experience, whether it’s a phone call, an email, a live chat or a written document.

These are the building blocks that every customer service model can be built upon:

MAKE A GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION:

There will never be a better opportunity to stand out from the crowd than when a new customer is shopping around, and they encounter you. Be friendly, concise, careful not to push too hard and be respectful of their buying timeframe. Engage them in conversation and listen closely to what they need. Fulfil this interaction by completing any agreed follow up in a timely manner.

REDUCE YOUR RESPONSE TIME:

This can be an opportunity to stand out and exceed your customers’ expectations. A lot of businesses have their own turnaround times that suit them, but not always their customers. Having a habit or a mantra of consistently over-delivering builds trust long term. This article gives 5 ideas to reduce response times.

KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS:

Always invest in the time it takes to research about your customers. Your knowledge of how their business works and the challenges they face will serve you well during periods where you are developing the business relationship. Research their Company website, Linkedin page, TrustPilot reviews, Glassdoor or Facebook pages to really understand their business.

BE HONEST AND TRANSPARENT:

If I don’t know an answer to a question, I will always profess to do so. And this is the case when I’m dealing with my clients and my customers. Your honesty and openness will establish your credibility and your integrity in the eyes of your customer.

PUBLICISE ALL YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES:

A lot of businesses out there will only publish the 9/10’s or the 10/10’s for superior service or if they are seeking recommendations or business introductions.

FORM LONG-LASTING RELATIONSHIPS:

Adherence and making these factors a habit leads to increased levels of customer satisfaction, added long term value, longer serving customer relationships and higher streams of revenue year-on-year.

 

 

An Introduction to Project Management

Let’s start at the very beginning…

What’s a project?

How about ‘a unique venture, with a start and an end, and its own budget, perhaps intended to create something new, to meet established goals within parameters of cost, time and quality’. Like most things in life, a good start works wonders. So how, as project managers, can we make sure this happens, particularly when we are given the what, but not the how?

Let’s talk about the what – the end goal, or deliverable of the project. What exactly, in terms of product or service, is the project supposed to churn out after 6 months, or whatever the deadline is? Too many project managers having being told of the end goal tend to work steadily towards its achievement. Then, as deadline day approaches, they have proudly handed over the deliverable, only to be told by the customer that ‘it’s not really what we wanted’. Cue gasps of exasperation!

To avoid this scenario, we need to be absolutely clear what the goal of the project is, and responsibility lies on both sides here. The customer needs to be crystal clear regarding their requirements (what does good look like?), and the project manager needs to confirm their understanding, asking questions where necessary. A SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound) would not be a bad idea here.

Let’s bridge that gap!

Now we know what we need to achieve, it’s time to plan how we get there. Using knowledge, skills and experience, a project manager will consider the end goal, and then identify a series of tasks and activities which must be completed in a particular sequence in order to achieve it. A variety of planning tools (Gantt charts, milestone charts, network diagrams etc) exist to assist you here – find the one that works for you and stick with it! Don’t forget the critical path – the straight line that runs through the heart of every project. It works on the principle that some tasks cannot begin until the previous one has been completed. These tasks lie on the critical path and must be worked on sequentially. Other tasks can be worked on concurrently, as long as they are ready at a certain point to feed back into the project. They do not lie on the critical path.

Resources, resources, RESOURCES

So, you’ve created the project plan and identified all the tasks and activities to be completed – they’re not going to do themselves! Now it’s time for the project manager to allocate the necessary resources to each task, for example, people, tools, equipment, materials and time. Don’t forget the resources we carry around in our heads! The project team may have the will to get the jobs done, but have they got the skill? It may be necessary to provide training so they are fully equipped to work effectively on the project.

Conclusion

At the start of any project, the project manager is often given the what, but not the how. Both elements deserve your attention if the project is to succeed. First, let’s make sure we know exactly what the project needs to achieve by the required deadline. Having established the goal, now let’s identify how we get there. Create your plan using a suitable planning tool, incorporating all the tasks to be completed. Finally, allocate the required resources to each task. What are we all waiting for – let’s get to work!