Customer service is about the culture you want your clients to experience. The culture you develop likely has some core, fundamental pieces to it. For example, culturally, most professionals and businesses want their clients to feel that they are competent, capable and communicative. These are commonalities for most business cultures. Not every culture is alike, however and there are always key differences here for businesses looking to set themselves apart.
One way to absolutely set yourself apart is by setting expectations around how you run your business.
One example I’ll give you is the ‘classic’ mortgage broker or real estate agent. They are tied to their cells and they make a promise to their clients; I will always be available day or night for you. I will always pick up my phone. I will always be there. This is an expectation they are setting with their clients. As long a they maintain that level of service they will always meet or exceed their client expectations. After all, anyone can say they will be available any time of day, but how many people will answer the phone at 11:30 p.m. We wouldn’t!
Another example I’ve run across is the financial professional and a large brand name firm. My culture is all about answering the phone. My administrative assistant knows that NO phone call ever goes to voice mail during business hours. This, for him, was a key differentiator in his culture and customer service. Again, as long as they meet the expectations they set, their clients will always be happy.
The challenge here is in both circumstances, these professionals are making a promise that could be very difficult, or, even impossible to meet consistently. When you put yourself in this position as a business owner, it creates opportunities and challenges.
Take Nordstrom as an example. Their customer service is nothing short of AWESOME. If you’re not familiar with the classic Nordstrom story, go google it, seriously! Their customer service is out of this world and it elevates their culture and their brand and because they have consistently met client expectations it creates an outstanding customer service experience.
Here’s the great news, you don’t need to be the mortgage broker or real estate agent that promises to answer their phone at any moment. You could just as easily be the mortgage broker or real estate agent that says, “I will return your call within 24 hours, always.” If the expectation is set, you’ll have clients that experience great customer service!
To set expectations for customer service there is only 1 thing that really needs to be done, but it absolutely MUST be done. You must communicate to everyone what your culture is and what the expectations you can and will ALWAYS meet are! If you cannot meet those expectations DO NOT SET THEM. It will only create a poor customer service experience. Set something you can always meet or exceed and you will always win.
The key here is simple. Communicate up front, from day 1!
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