Training & Development

The power of learning as much as possible about your customers

The show “Cheers” resonates with me.

The stories about life and friendship. Of course there’s the theme song, “Where everybody knows your name…”

We know the jingle, but read some of the lyrics: “Making your way in the world today takes everything that you’ve got. Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.”

Quint Studer.

In some way, I think that’s a pretty succinct definition to quality customer service. It’s about making each customer feel taken care of and important.

Emily Ley, a Pensacola native and figurehead of her popular namesake lifestyle brand, was a keynote speaker at EntreCon in 2016. She shared just how much information her team wants to know about each customer. It is astounding how well they want to know customers. Why? Not only can they create a relationship, but also by knowing their customers so well, they can better anticipate what products key customers want.

Forbes recently published a piece explaining how modern customer service companies are making service a must-have organizational strategy. No longer is it a “nice to have.”

Our world has never been more widely exposed, and with that comes more stories about good customer service. It’s not just Nordstrom or a select few other brands. Great service examples are shared everywhere from small stores to international companies.

What defines excellent customer service? Forbes cited Jeff Lundal, group vice president of service automation for Oracle, who said consumers define good customer service as being able to provide a consistent engagement over time. Great customer service means personalization in every interaction across any channel. Moving from good to great service is extremely difficult. However, in 2017, companies who want to succeed have no choice. If you don’t provide it, people find someone who will.

Here are four tips to cultivate strong customer service (just like Sam Malone):

— Hold the loyal customers you have tight. Do all you can to know their likes, their dislikes and exactly what makes them tick. Think about Cheers: If you have not seen a regular customer in a while, seek them out. With new customers, check up quickly to make sure they are satisfied. Get specific about every aspect of the interaction.

— Ask your customer for input. This can be from using social media to sharing what products they like best, what they wish you had, and more. Invite your customers to meet with you in person to provide feedback. Share any issues and ask them what solution they recommend. My experience is that customers may bring great insight into problems and offer valuable solutions.

— It is more about the quality of the connection than the frequency. We’re all familiar with a buzzing e-mail inbox or cell phone, but is it quality interaction? It is more important to connect when you have a reason to connect. This only happens when you know your customers. For example, think about a jewelry store where you bought a birthday present for someone special. Imagine what it would mean if that store took the time to know that birthday is coming up again and reached out to you.

— Measure. Research shows that top executives and owners rate their customer service better than it actually is. It’s like the fictional Lake Wobegon, where author Garrison Keillor says all children are above average. If you have an outside source to measure satisfaction, use one. If not, ask people you know to mystery shop for specific items and give you feedback. At a minimum, have ways for customers to provide feedback.

In today’s world, competition is everywhere. Tom Peters, noted author and speaker, said the key is to get better faster than others. Because great service is so hard, those who attain it have a large competitive advantage.