Exceptional Customer Service - Traditional Business
While the global marketplace and e-commerce continues to boom, it is ever more important to today’s traditional small business owner and large corporation alike, to compete for consumer dollars in a grassroots kind of way. Yes, “traditional business” will always be relevant, even in the face of point-and-click purchasing: there’s just nothing like being able to go to a clothing store to feel how luxurious a fabric is; or to see first-hand the true colors of that radical new bike helmet unaffected by differences in computer monitors; or to taste the flavor profile in a seasonal gelato sample. In order to remain viable in a global economy, these stores, restaurants and agencies look to increase their profits by earning new patronage and growing their reach. From a consumer standpoint, this is really good stuff! We benefit from the strategies they employ in attracting our interest, understanding our needs, and meeting our demands. We in turn enjoy competitive pricing on goods and services, personalized customer relationships, and higher rates of overall satisfaction. And who doesn’t want good value and a positive experience! One of the main ways traditional businesses capture consumers and maintain their loyalty is by providing exceptional customer service. We can spend our dollars anywhere; we just want these outlets to earn our business and thus have come to expect stellar service!
A 2014 report by American Express reveals, "3 out of 4 consumers will spend more money at the same business if their overall experience is a positive one." Why is that important? Well, understanding some key points in how traditional businesses create exceptional customer service will help consumers take a more active role in the marketplace and ultimately help shape their experiences:
- Cultivating Personal Relationships in the Face of Automation: While effective at times, trending more toward automated customer service can also leave the consumer feeling disconnected from their overall experience -- potentially lessening their satisfaction. For example, the reliance on things like automated telephone voice response systems, call centers overseas, and self-serve Internet options, can sometimes be problematic... Dropped calls, inactive links, misunderstood voice commands can certainly be frustrating, leaving an individual to feel more like a statistic and less like a valued customer. To offset all that automation, traditional businesses also maintain their “personal touch” by wooing customers with individualized attention. Store managers ask their customers directly how their experiences were and promptly address concerns and rectify mistakes. Employees get to know their repeat guests and cater to some of their individual preferences. Programs that reward customer loyalty also help the individual consumer feel invested in that particular store or restaurant. Efforts like these go a long way in boosting consumer relations.
- Implementing Service Standards Leads to Excellence & Loyalty: In this context, developing and utilizing exceptional service standards are important in creating a positive company image and getting the community to share in that wonderful perception. Are the goods and services guaranteed? Does the company engage in ethical practices? Is the level of service offered competitive? Implementing standards of excellence not only lead to consistency in the quality of goods or services offered, but can also help ensure consumer confidence. That snowballs into satisfaction and loyalty!
- Empowered Employees Enhance Service: When a company empowers its employees to act on a consumer’s behalf, resolution is more immediate than having to wait to go through a chain-of-command. For instance, if you return a new countertop grill that was sold to you in defective condition, you’re more likely to continue to patron that store (despite the mishap), if the process of returning the product is “quick and painless.” Furthermore, according to Accenture, a management consulting services company, "Empowered employees feel a deeper sense of investment with their work and are more likely to go the distance for a customer." Good for them; good for you!
- Consumer Feedback is Fuel: When traditional businesses collect, analyze and use customer feedback, it helps them develop targeted sales campaigns that better fulfill consumer demand. Some of the ways they can go about this is by: utilizing mystery shoppers to evaluate the overall experience; inviting guests to complete comment cards; and by taking satisfaction surveys. Giving consumers a voice allows them to identify the particular things that attracted and maintain their interest. Customer feedback can also offer unique perspective and insight on ways of improving customer service. When an individual takes an active interest in evaluating his/her total experience, it helps shape the quality of future interactions.
Bottom Line: Satisfaction guaranteed? Not always. However, as traditional businesses compete within the global marketplace for your patronage, offering exceptional customer service gives them leverage with a personal touch. Becoming a discerning and involved consumer only improves on what will become a new standard of excellence.