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Customer Service, Are You Making the Grade?

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Based on their current trajectory, the country’s largest retail banking institutions are expected to achieve a substantial lead in overall customer satisfaction vs. Midsize and Regional banks by 2020,” said  Jim Miller, senior director of banking at J.D. Power.

Businesses of every shape and size tout the top shelf customer service they provide.  Words like reliability, friendly, personal, dependable, and proven are used.  Every representative of their firm says that their company has "great customer service".   For such a phrase to be so oft used we would all think that good service is clearly defined and that we all agree on its meaning.  But do we?  Have you ever really thought about what a company has to do for you to say their service is excellent?  Even more important is have you ever decided and defined what your own standard is for service to your own members and customers?

We have standards for nearly everything else in lending and banking.  Loan terms.  Privacy.  Disclosures.  Transactions.  Operations.  Employee dress, behaviour, and job requirements. Just like these other categories we must place importance on and measure customer satisfaction if we expect our customers to continue doing business with us now and in the future.

Quality Customer service defined:  Interactions with our customers that leave them highly satisfied  and should cause them to enthusiastically continue doing business with us.  Sounds simple.  But if it was truly simple everyone would provide great service.  But why are we so seldom satisfied with service we receive in our own lives?  Home improvement companies that don't call you back, snotty clerks and waitresses.  Long lines and waiting for any service at all.  Pushy sales people.  Poorly done work, passing the buck.  On hold for an eternity with the cell phone or cable company.   We rarely experience great customer service because it is not simple and it is not rare.

Here are 9 Steps that help us practice great customer service:

1.  Hire people that have a customer friendly mindset (or teach it).  You have to want to serve.  Some people look at other people and naturally want to help them.  Most do not.  Most look at other people and see a walking annoyance.  A flapping mouth that is interrupting an otherwise peaceful day.  Most people don't serve others naturally.  You either have to hire people with serving in their DNA, or you have to teach it.  You have to have standards to teach it and the very high importance of it.  If you don't have people that care about people, you will fail at achieving great customer service.  

2.  Your people have to know your products.  Or they at least have to know how to get the correct information about your services in quick fashion.  When a customer reaches out they really just want two things.  Can you solve my problem/answer my question and how long will it take?  As soon as they believe you can't or don't know how to help them they are dissatisfied.

3.  Give people a path for getting where they want to go.  Help them see the map that contains their destination.  Tell them what steps you are going to take, how long it will take, and that you will make sure it gets done. That's a path.  Anything less is shadowy and murky.

4.  Sense of urgency.  Take care of people's issues as quickly as you can.  You want to really show people you care and are sharp?  Fix their issue and take action now not later.  The world is ruled by those that take action not those that wait till later.  Fix a customer's problem now and they might be a customer for life.

5.  Thoroughly document customer service interactions. Take thorough notes before moving on, including a follow up note to check on whoever you passed it onto to ensure completion.  If you pass on incomplete information it will lead to a dissatisfied customer.

6.  Do something extra.  If you are asked for a balance, give them their payment and due date as well.  If you're asked for a contact, offer to call for them and take care of it for them.

7.  Follow up with the customer to make sure they were happy with the outcome.  NEVER assume anything.

8.  Have set timelines (timelines that exemplify a sense of urgency about the importance of customers and keeping them happy) for responding to emails, messages,  and requests from customers.  Have a set standard for when to get back to a customer with an update if it’s something that can’t be handled promptly.

9.  Show thankfulness and appreciation.  Our entire organization should display appreciation to our customers.  They have many other choices, and they pay our bills.  Phrases like "thank you for doing business with us" and "it's no problem at all, that's what we're here for" should be regularly spoken.

 

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