Consistency Starts on the Front Line All the Way Up the Ladder to Your Office
Customers reflect their trust through repeat business, referrals and honest feedback. For some companies, gaining that trust seems effortless. For others, it's more challenging.
There is a direct correlation between how companies operate internally and the trust they earn from their customers. The business processes of companies directly impact a customer's trust in those companies. Here are five ways to earn the trust of your customers.
Each time customers interact with you, they want to know what to expect. For example, they need to know how you'll schedule appointments, whether your technicians are on time and what you'll do for them if the technicians are late.
They also want to know that each and every technician on your staff is highly qualified and professional — and most importantly, if something goes wrong, that you'll make it right.
Consistency starts from the frontline — the schedulers who make and receive calls — all the way up the ladder to your office.
Value the Relationship
Be proactive rather than reactive. Make it a goal to move away from the break-fix model into a managed services model. To do so, offer annual maintenance programs for a set fee. If customers don't take you up on the offer, call them annually to schedule a maintenance visit.
Leave behind thank you notes or send emails, as well, to let customers know you value their business. Include information about your work guarantees and how to schedule additional appointments if there is a problem.
Consider creating a VIP program for repeat customers to get quicker service. Be creative, but also let customers know you truly care about them.
Straight talk goes a long way toward winning customer trust. You need to be transparent about how long the service will take, what the charges are going to be and discuss any complications that occur.
Train technicians and customer service staff on how to best communicate with customers. Technicians need to learn to listen so they totally understand the problems the customer is experiencing, and then be able to confidently explain what it will take to fix those problems.
Ask for Feedback
Customers want the ability to give feedback on your service via phone or online surveys. In this day and age, isn't getting that feedback directly (with the opportunity to fix it) better than reading about a negative experience on Yelp?
Offer competitive pricing and stand behind your work. There is nothing worse than a customer finding out his neighbor spent $1,000 less than he did for the same service. Of course, there are mitigating circumstances (your competitor could have used lower quality parts).
The point is to do your research to make sure you are offering fair rates and create a policy regarding quality.
Best practices are fine, but how do you achieve them? Take a look at the following:
- Document processes, procedures and policies. It all starts here.
- Train all employees. Documenting won't help you achieve your goals without training your team in what they say. This is especially important in new employees, but should also occur regularly for all employees.
- Enlist the right tools. You're only as good as the tools at your disposal. Good field service management software allows you to know exactly where your technician is, what he or she is doing, and gives you the ability to text the next customer to let them know the technician's arrival time.
- Measure. More than just having customer surveys in place, quality control means ensuring your team follows your processes. Enlist secret shoppers (even friends and family) to ensure your team is following procedures. Spot check by calling customers and asking them about their experience … even call in yourself to see how you're treated.
Core values help companies build a strong culture, bring clarity to an organization and, some argue, reduce the need for policies and procedures.
There are four simple core values designed to help us earn our customers' trust. At the beginning of each team meeting, repeat these core values so the team is constantly exposed to them.
- High quality experience, every time. Self explanatory, but it's important to note that you want both your customers and your team to have high quality experiences each time.
- Trust the team. You want both your internal team and your customers to trust you to have the right knowledge and experience to do the job well.
- Act with consistency and integrity. Enough said.
- Build the road to what's next. Repeat business ensures your longevity as a company. You want to travel with your customers as they grow and continue to serve their evolving needs.
You'll want to take a good hard look at your customer service practices. Perform an "audit," if you will, of processes and procedures. Call a few recent customers to get their honest feedback. Call your customer service line as if you needed service. Then, determine what you need to put in place to improve.
Marjorie Adams is president/CEO of Fourlane, a company that improves the efficiency of client accounting departments through bookkeeping, tax, software consulting and business process training. The firm specializes in showing customers that they can continue in higher level QuickBooks products as they grow. In her spare time, Marjorie catches up with one of her six sisters, sweats through a morning run, reads a business book or watches the latest AMC show.