If someone asked you today, “Who’s your customer?” How would you answer? Do you know who your customer is? How has your customer base changed from when you started to where you are today? Have you changed to accommodate this new customer?
If you have customers, you have customer service. As your company grows and changes, so do your customers. It is important to know who your customers are. You want your company to have a united front when dealing with your customers; both positive and negative. So where to start?
A good place to start is learning more about your customers’ needs. As your company grows and changes so does your target demographic, which means so do your customers’ needs. Here’s a short list of ways to learn more about your customers.
- Establish a system of documenting customer complaints and comments.
Track your customer’s name, address, phone number, email. The name of the employee referenced (if any). How was the complaint/comment resolved? What was the complaint/comment about? What steps were taken to resolve it and were they completed within the promised timeframe? Did you have to compensate the customer in some way? How can this problem be avoided in the future?
- Take surveys.
We all hate surveys. I know. But for a company, they provide valuable feedback. It doesn’t always have to be a big long survey, an annoying phone call, or an annoying email. It can be a simple question during their online checkout. Or it can be a simple question while talking directly to the customer.
Pick an area you wish to improve and focus on that one area. “What do you think of our new beverage station?” “Are you enjoying our new outdoor umbrellas?” “How was your wait time today?” Any feedback you get from a customer is valuable.
- Talk to your employees.
You’ve hired employees to be your front line. Ask them what kind of comments they’ve been receiving, and overhearing, from the customers. Are there any backlogs not getting cleared? Are there any items continually out of stock? Your employees will have valuable information for you and you should consult them frequently regarding the health of your business. Don’t wait until there are problems that have finally reached your ears.
- Talk to your vendors.
What kind of relationship do you have with your vendors? Your vendors and service providers can give you information on the newest trends, they might even share what your competition is up to. They are out there meeting with everyone using the products you’re buying from them. They know what’s going on, so form a solid relationship with them and work to maintain it.
Do you outsource any services such as shipping, your call center, manufacturing? These are good sources for feedback as well. What issues have they observed? If you’re using their services, chances are others are as well and they can be a fount of valuable information and suggestions to help your business run smoother and improve.
Now that you’ve compiled all of this valuable data, you are ready to start analyzing your top issues. Narrow it down to a top three and start working on those first. Which issue is repeated the most? What is the top complaint you’re receiving? What is the one thing your customers routinely ask you if you are able to do for them?
Understanding the needs of your customers and staying ahead of those needs is the first step in offering top notch customer service. And really, that’s what all of us want, right?
Stay tuned to future blogs to learn how to develop a policy to consistently improve your customer service for your organization and how to fully take advantage of the knowledge you gain.