Customer service: 'Create fans'

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Q. How do I make my customer service function more relationship-focused than transactional-based?

A. According to author Ken Blanchard, “Your customers are only satisfied because their expectations are so low and no one else is doing better…If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.”

The first step in achieving a relationship-focused customer service function is to develop a vision for the customer service and the relationship you want to have with your customers. Because you, your customers and your employees will all have your own views of what makes outstanding service, you will need to conduct an analysis and evaluation to uncover the specifics of customer service expectations. The most thorough way to do this is to develop a list of the questions that you want answered and then conduct both formal and informal surveys, recording your answers and impressions as you go.

When asking each group about customer service, pay close attention to what they say, as well as what they don’t say. Make sure to ask open-ended questions and listen with both your ears and eyes. Tune into how each customer spends their dollars with your business and other businesses. Where do they shop and why do they patronize those businesses? What motivates them to part with their hard-earned money? How do they plan on improving their quality of life with the service that you provide?

After accumulating and carefully evaluating all of these expectations, wants and needs, it is up to you to develop that long-sought-after vision of perfect customer service. If you have truly listened, the actual plan and vision become very simple, as those that you serve have told you exactly what they want. hme

Wes Hopper is the director of national accounts for home care for McKesson. He can be reached at 540-662-1319 or wes.hopper@mckesson.