Wednesday, 18 August 2010

"Bullseye Customer Service"

If you provide a customer service and want to go to the top of the league, there's only one way to do it: hit the bullseye every time. Here are 8 ways to hit the target plus one extra way to make yourself "bullseyeable" (hint: it's to do with the book cover on the right.)

B for Bang-on-Target

When you're "bang-on-target", you are able to respond to any customer need with speed, commitment, and dedication. The customer is not made to feel that they've gone to the bottom of a list and will have to wait their turn. They become priority number one.

The story is told of the customer with a blocked wash basin. She rang a local plumbing service at random. They promised a plumber would call the same night. 10 minutes later they called back to say he would be at the house within the hour.

45 minutes later the plumber was at the house, unblocked the basin and was paid.

40 minutes later the company phoned to check if everything was working alright. Two days later a letter arrived in the post thanking the customer and enclosing a sticker with their emergency phone number on.

That's "bang-on-target" commitment and the first step in being "bullseyeable".

U for Unforgettable

To score a bullseye every time with your customers, you have to find some way to deliver a service that people just can't forget. Whether it's your speed of response, your ability to empathise with your customer's needs, or the glow you leave behind, you've got to find a way to stand out from the competition. And if you can't work out how to do it, here's a clue: find out what really gets your customers angry, and then adjust your service to make them happy and content.

As top executive coach Patricia Fripp says, "It is not your client's or prospect's job to remember you. It is your responsibility to make sure they do not have the chance to forget you."

L is for Listen-to-them, Really Listen-to-them

When you know you deliver a great service, and have all the systems in place to respond quickly to your customers, it's very easy to go on auto-pilot. After all, you want to hit that bullseye every time, don't you? But hang on a minute. Are you sure you really know what your customers want?

To hit the bullseye every time, you and your team have got to know how to listen. And this sometimes means not taking what your customers say at face value. Find out what's bugging them, what keeps them awake at night, and what they really want from a customer bullseye-shooter like you. When you really listen, you show your customers respect, let them know they're not on their own, and find the solutions they're really after.

L is for Love What You Do

Every great customer service provider loves what they do. You don't feel they work for the money. They do it because they have a passion for it. The money just happens to come along afterwards, as if by chance.

Management guru Tom Peters loves great customer service providers. He's made a career out of finding them and celebrating them, from his local deli that delivers the best coffee in town to his car insurance firm that turned up inside 10 minutes when he had a minor bump on the Interstate highway.

And what's the secret to each of his star providers? They love what they do. Here's how he describes them:

"It's my show or your show. The auditorium lights up, the shop tills ring, the surgery door opens, the garage door clanks upwards, the class begins. It's our stage. Each day is a golden opportunity to experiment with a new approach. What are you going to be today? How are you going to connect? What's your new twist? What will you love to do?"

S for Service

To be a customer bullseye-hitter, you need to be a total service freak. Even if you deliver a product rather than a service, you still need to deliver it with style, on time, and with a touch of special class. Here are 3 ways to be a service freak:

a. make your customers feel good when you make contact with them. Remember to smile whether it's in person, on the phone, or even online. Everyone knows what a sincere service smile feels like. They'll feel so good that they'll tell their friends and come back for more.

b. don't equate "service" with "servility", they're not the same. Service isn't menial work, second-class work, or unnoticed work. It's what every business should be about. And it's what every bullseye-hitting business does every time.

c. the most committed customer carers are those who believe in the value of service. They don't see looking after customers as a way to increase sales, or make better profits or keep themselves in work - all of which are by-products of good service - but as a way to help others in their daily search for worthwhile living.

"Service to others is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth." (N. Eldon Tanner)

E is for Experienced

When you deal with a bullseye-hitting service provider, you immediately notice that they're a cut above the rest. The reason? They're experienced enough to know how to strike the right balance.

For example, they're…
a. knowledgeable but not over-technical
b. confident but not smarmy
c. smartly-dressed but not overpowering
d. attentive but not nosey
e. friendly but not too personal
f. helpful but not insistent
g. available but not intrusive
h. slick but not too quick
i. caring but not cloying.

Striking the right balance is like a discrete servant: visible and invisible, unnoticed but there if needed.

Y is for Your Responsibility

The great customer providers train their staff to accept total responsibility for what they do. They don't leave it to others, they don't duck and dive, and they don't pass the buck. When the chips are down, they accept responsibility for fixing things and get on with it.

Here is a true story from BT, the British telecoms company.

A customer went to a BT shop, only to find that the telephone he wanted was out of stock and wouldn't be available for a few weeks. He left his name and address and promised to call back in three weeks.

Meanwhile, the shop assistant took it upon herself to ring round every other BT shop in the area and found one with the right model in stock. She arranged to collect it on her way home from work and then set off to deliver it to the customer at his home that night. The customer was so delighted that he wrote a letter of commendation to BT's Managing Director.

That's taking response-ability and hitting the bullseye for you and your company.

E for Enquire if there's anything else you can do

If you've ever encountered a problem with a service provider and received a bullseye-hitting solution, you'll know that, even when the problem is fixed, they'll ask if there's anything else they can do for you. They're not soliciting new business or trying to cash in. They're just wanting to check you're OK.

The following letter is left with cars after a service at a garage that has an outstanding record for customer service.

Dear Customer,

My name is Joe and I have just completed the work on your car. The results and details of the servicing are on a separate sheet.

I hope you are happy with all aspects of my workmanship. Should there be any points that you wish to discuss, please ring our Service Reception and they will get in touch with me. Don't be afraid to mention anything you don't understand or are unsure about. I can guarantee that we will explain things to you in simple layman's terms.

Our company's success depends on satisfying our customers and reassuring them of our friendly service at all times.



Those are the 8 features of the bullseye-hitting success companies.

And, now, here's the extra we promised you to make you really "bullseyeable".

Writer and "smokin-hot-piece-of-brain-candy" Scott Ginsberg has a new book out, called "-ABLE: 35 Strategies for Increasing the Probability of Success in Business and in Life". In it, you'll discover 35 new "-able" words that will guarantee you score a bullseye in your life and business every time.

Here's the link to the book (see the cover at the top of this blog):

And here's a link to Scott's blog:

Now go score you own bullseyes!