Posts tagged ‘Service’
10 ways to become more customer focussed
In the free-enterprise system, the customer is king. Those who please the customer best win. The same is true with internal customers. Those who please them most will win. Winners are always customer orientated and responsive. Here are ten actions to help your organisation become more customer focussed.
1. Keep in high-quality touch. Pleasing the reasonable needs of customers is fairly straight-forward. First you need to know what they want and expect. The best way to do that is ask them. Then deliver that in a timely way at a price/value that’s justified. Find ways to keep in touch with a broad spectrum of your customers to get a balanced view: face-to-face, phone surveys, questionnaires, response cards etc.
2. Customers complain; it’s their job. Be ready for the good news and the bad news; don’t be defensive, just listen and respond to legitimate criticisms and note the rest. Vocal customers will usually complain more than compliment; you need to not get overwhelmed by the negative comments; people who have positive opinions speak up less.
3. Anticipate customer needs. Get in the habit of meeting with your internal or external customers on a regular basis to set up a dialogue; they need to feel free to contact you about problems and you need to be able to contact them for essential information. Use this understanding to get out in front of your customers; try and anticipate their needs and provide them with positive surprises.
4. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were a customer of yours, what would you expect; what kind of turnaround time would you tolerate; what price would you be willing to pay for the quality of product or service you provide; what would be the top three things you would complain about?
5. Think customer in. Always design your work and manage your time from a customer in, not from you out. Your best will always be determined by your customers, not you; try not to design and arrange what you do only from your own view; try to always know and take the viewpoint of your customer first; you will always win following that rule.
6. Create an environment for experimentation and learning. One principle of these techniques is to drive continuous improvement. Never be satisfied. Always drive to improve all work processes so they deliver defect-free goods and services customers want. Don’t be afraid to fail.
7. Look at your own work habits. Are they designed for maximum effectiveness and efficiency for your customer or are they designed for your comfort? Is there room for some continuous improvement? Are you applying the principles you have learned to yourself? Remember, this is one of the major reasons why these efforts fail.
8. Think of yourself as a dissatisfied customer. Write down all of the unsatisfactory things that have happened to you as a customer during the past month. Things like delays, orders not right, cost not as promised, phone calls not returned, cold food, bad service, inattentive staff, out of stock items etc. Are any of these things happening to your customers?
9. Think of yourself as a satisfied customer. Write down all of the satisfactory things that have happened to you as a customer during the past month? What pleased you the most as a customer? Good value; on-time service; courtesy; returned calls? Are any of your customers experiencing any of these satisfactory transactions with you and your organisation?
10. Play detective. Be a student of the workflows and processes around you at airports, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, government agencies etc. As a customer how would you design those things differently to make them more effective and efficient? What principles did you follow? Apply those same principles to your own work.
Thanks to William Montgomery of AskTen for this piece on becoming more customer focussed.
In business, we all need to be reminded from time-to-time that ‘the customer is king’! It is all too easy for some employees to see your customers as ‘an interruption’ to their day!
Regular sales/staff meetings (ideally morning meetings before the day begins) are a good opportunity to get the staff on board and re-iterate what it is the company is trying to achieve, and what rewards this may mean for the employees if they do their bit (commission, bonuses etc for hitting targets).
MANAGEMENT BY WALKING AROUND
Some years ago THE business guru was Tom Peters, through his books such as “In Search of Excellence” and “A Passion of Excellence”. One of his ideas was the concept of “Management by Walking About”.
How often do you spot something that needs doing and then forget about it? How often do you put something right yourself?
How often do you delegate by telling a colleague precisely what needs to be done?
How about a different approach? Look at your premises, outside and in, with a fresh eye. What needs to be done? If a light bulb is out, tell the manager, or whoever is senior in the office that a light bulb is out. If a window card needs changing say “A window card needs changing”. Don’t say which one and don’t fix it yourself. The aim is to get others to look with a fresh eye too. Note down when you say something and record how long it takes to be put right. Later, comment on the time taken.
It is right to lead from the front, but the trick is to ensure that everyone on your team shares the passion to be the best and strive for it just as you do.
Get a friend to look at your premises and comment frankly on the good and the bad. People who work in a place every day don’t notice gradual change. Familiarity breeds apathy.
In front of the negotiators’ desks do your guest chairs have arms or not? No arms on chairs cause people to fold their arms and put up psychological barriers to discussions. Arms on chairs help people to relax and be more receptive.
With the closures of businesses the secondhand furniture places have bargains available. Is it time for a freshen up?
When did you last change your Fluorescent light tubes. You know that they lose brightness with age, don’t you? Has the change been so gradual you haven’t noticed? They should be changed after a year. Change a couple and see the difference!
Could this principle apply to your housing stock too?
How about a drive around to see what could be done to enhance the properties you have for sale? Are all the “For Sale” boards in the best location and as visible as they can be? Are the gardens tidy, hedges trimmed and paths swept? Are your photographs up to date with the season? Are your clients sharing your commitment to present the “product” to best advantage?
Or are you telling potential customers that you are sloppy about detail and houses take months to sell? If so, why would they instruct you?
Try walking about and looking at the details, then get them right. When all the details are right, the business will be right and all your colleagues will share your passion for excellence.
Acknowledgement: Nick Marsh FRICS, FAAV. Partner, Frank Marshall Chartered Surveyors, Auctioneers & Estate Agents. (National Homes Network Member Estate Agent).