Every business prides themselves on good customer service, but what does it really mean and why is it important for business strategy and development? These were just some of the questions raised at this morning’s East Herts Business Breakfast Club (EHBBC) – a quarterly networking event held by Wilkins Kennedy and NatWest Bank, designed to bring local businesses together from around the Hertfordshire community.
During the event held on Wednesday 6 June, I spoke on behalf of Wilkins Kennedy about the topic of customer service. Not only is this something we hold dear to us and constantly strive for as a firm, it is also something that I professionally and personally, take pride in.
As well as holding the position of Partner at Wilkins Kennedy’s Amersham office, where I specialise in a variety of accounting matters including taxation and insolvency, I carry out a lot of business and personal improvement facilitation where I work with businesses and individuals, either high performing or distressed, helping them to improve. I use the core values of Wilkins Kennedy’s, focus on best practice and value to others, to help others succeed and achieve their goals.
As I highlighted during the EHBBC session, customer service goes beyond the basic “please” and “thank you”. Truly measuring ways customers view your organisation through their experiences can help to transform your business.
However, there is no “one size fits all” solution. The digital age is crafting new opportunities to interact with customers that vary from the traditional shop front. Digital environments produce a completely different set of customer expectations – is delivery prompt? Were items packed carefully? This is a faceless new order to the more traditional business’ role of relationship building and face to face service of years gone by, but the same set of rules apply. Identifying customer needs and understanding them through active listening will ultimately reflect on your customer’s experience. Happy customers will be your most valuable marketing tool.
Staff can also play a large part in customer satisfaction. According to research by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), there is a direct link between employee engagement and superior customer satisfaction. Organisations with happier staff are more likely to deliver the best customer service. The ICS also states that with increased customer satisfaction comes an extra boost to levels of reputation, trust, recommendation and willingness to remain an organisation’s customer. The John Lewis Partnership is perhaps the best known example of this model in practice – and it could well be why they remain a successful, robust business.
Simple changes, such as re-training staff, could have a major impact. Make sure staff can identify basic customer needs, such as the need to be understood, feel important, comfortable or welcome to your business. It is important that staff can show empathy and understand the correct procedure or remedy. They should also be responsive in the event of an issue or a request and offer reliability and assurance that they will keep any promises they make to the customer.
Wilkins Kennedy works with a number of businesses to plan effectively for growth and how to manage and monitor opportunities. Contact us to see how we can help.