Too often, owners puts the focus on numbers instead of customers’ needs, not realizing that if they paid attention and did everything in their power to fill those needs, the numbers would materialize.
In a blog post entitled “Customer Service Plan: Superior Customer Service Requires a Strategy,” Franchising.com urges owners to shift perspective, and outlines the proper steps in creating a customer service plan.
Their post begins with an admonishment that advertising “mere words” such as “the customer is king” or “the customer is always right” doesn’t cut it. “Customers will decide for themselves what kind of service you really provide.”
As the only full-service POS provider — from software development to franchise incubator to ongoing support — part of Sintel’s commitment to our customers and industry is to share insights into successful franchise management. Whether you’re a first-time franchise hopeful, a small business owner or an established chain, it’s always smart to step outside one’s normal framework and consider a higher-level view.
“You must act, not profess,” writes Franchising.com. “You must make customer service a priority [and] do whatever it takes to provide your customers with what they need and want and to do so quickly, enthusiastically, and accurately.”
To increase sales and profits, an organization must provide services to gain, and retain, customers. Superior customer service begins with developing a plan, putting it in writing, and executing the strategy.
In the balance of their post, Franchise.com suggests the steps to follow before you develop a customer service plan:
Understand Your Business
You are in the customer service business, regardless of what it is that you are selling. “You must build everything you do around the customer experience.”
Clear the Way of Obstacles
“Identify the elements of superior customer service and eliminate the obstacles that prevent you from providing it.” Ask yourself questions such as:
– Is it easy for customers to do business with you?
– How well-trained are your employees?
– Is someone in the organization available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer customers’ questions and to help solve their problems?
What is it Your Customers Need and Want?
Set your target, because “If you don’t know who it is you are trying to satisfy and what their needs are, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to meet them.” Once you’ve gathered the information, set goals for average revenue per customer and the market share you want to achieve.
Find and Set Comparables
“Look at the best of the best and model your behavior after those businesses. What do they do that you aren’t doing?”
Make a commitment and back it up. Service guarantees give customers peace of mind. As an example, the post mentions a dental clinic that pays its members $50 if they fail to issue an identity card within 15 days after an enrollment form is completed.
Track Your Progress
Evaluate success by using surveys and mystery shoppers to assess your customer service focus. Start with a baseline of sales and market-share data prior to implementation, and compare it to new figures every six months thereafter.
Drive the Program with Training and Feedback
Franchise.com maintains that continuous training is necessary to “instill in all employees an enthusiasm for — and commitment to — customer service,” and also to enforce and reinforce the focus on service by rewarding high-performing employees.
Make the Commitment
“Creating a customer service culture takes time,” they write, cautioning, “If you aren’t committed, you will fail.”
When an organization becomes aware of what is important to the customer, and when it understands the gaps in the company’s current service offerings, they are ready to draft and implement a plan for superior customer service. It takes commitment to a long-term strategy of continual effort, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
If you are interested in learning more about Sintel’s POS systems and how our knowledge and support can impact your future success, call us for a complimentary phone consultation.
Read the full Franchising.com post here.
Sintel Systems is the only full-service provider of tailored Point of Sale systems across retail, restaurant and service industries, including frozen yogurt shops, pizzerias, sushi restaurants, cafés and retail stores.
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