I believe every company should have a customer service goal. More specifically, a business should have a company-wide goal revolving strictly around taking care of clients. Once a business achieves a solid vision of what this means, the company should empower their staff to take care of clients and achieve this goal.
Imagine two exact companies that provide a particular service. For this example we will use two painting companies, “Company A” and “Company B” (very creative, I know). “Company A” has a very strict policy that demands nothing falls out of procedure or their scope of work. If the client doesn’t like it, tough.They get what they paid for and if they happen to want more, they’re billed for it. The reason for this is that the very ridged owner of this company feels that profits are gained through streamlined processes and procedures. This has led them to follow a process where a bid is made on the project at a certain price and anything that falls outside of this bid will be charged at an extra rate at the end of the project.
“Company B” on the other hand has a company-wide goal to exceed client expectations. This means that if it’s in the best interest of all parties to give the client what they need, then do it. Keep in mind that this company is also focused on processes and company profitability, but the key difference is that they spend more time on staff development and managing client expectations. The overarching philosophy of “Company B” is geared more toward focusing on their clients to make sure that their expectations are being met. This allows them to meet their company goal of excellent customer service while simultaneously increasing company profits.
Looking from the outside in at this scenario begs the obvious outcome that “Company B” will succeed. What we’re forgetting, however, is that when you are in the midst of growing your business (hiring employees, keeping an eye on expenses, etc.), how easy would it be to become “Company A”? As a business owner it seems practical that the more streamlined your processes, and if you bill everything outside of this initial bid, the more profitable your company will be. This theory allows you to get more done in less time and allows you to bill for everything.
But what happens when your business no longer receives referrals? What happens when your reputation becomes that of a company just willing to take advantage of their clients? Or you become a company that is only known for underbidding projects and then ends up gouging their clients in the end?
Now lets take a look at our friends at “Company B”. “Company B” takes the time to sit with the clients to fully understand their needs before providing any pricing. They also take the time to educate the client setting the expectation of: if something is outside of the initial bid, they will discuss it with them before moving forward. They are also able to provide options that are designed to fit within the client’s budget. This system works great if the owner or sales person is involved at all times.
What if the owner or sales person is no longer available but the painter has been trained on how to consult with the client? The Painter, having been brought up in a culture practiced by “Company B”, is able to talk with the client about a request that is out of the initial bid and provide them with three options instead of just doing what the clients asks and then billing for it later. The outcome is that this client walks away as a very happy client! This client will most likely be excited to refer “Company B” to friends and family and become their next best salesperson. What is the clear distinction between these two companies? The main reason is that “Company B” had a goal of excellent customer service. They trained their staff to be great consultants and empowered them to make decisions.
I believe that companies who provide great customer service make a conscious choice to do so. They have built their company culture around this philosophy and they will go to great lengths to teach and train their staff on how to deliver excellent service and empower their people to do so.