Monthly Archives: April 2014

Managing Quality Customer Service: How Real Change Can be Implemented

While everyone can do good customer service, not everyone in the company can implement quality customer service which is up to the standards agreed by the company. Here are some points to keep in mind to take your company’s quality customer service to the next level:

manage quality customer service

1.     Create and update your organisational standards

We would like to assume that everyone in the company will deliver the best customer service. However, one day we may find out the hard way that the employees fall short of our expectation. To minimise this, every company should create the organisational standard of the steps required to achieve quality customer service.

Should a receptionist pick up the phone by the third ring? Should your employees be using certain words to market the products and services? Although this may sound simple, standardised policies can go a long way.

2.     Develop and use strategies to obtain customer feedback

While a lot of businesses have put emphasis on getting feedback, not many actually put weight into the feedback that is being given. Build a plan on how to improve the provision of your products and services.

How will you ask for feedback? Will verbal communication be enough? Or will you want a written feedback from your customers? Is there any way to do this via the internet?

What will you do once you get your feedback? Do you need to pass them to the HR department? Do you just file them and forget about them? Do you escalate the complaints and problems to your manager?

3.     Build a good management system

Good quality customer service needs a good management system. It is important to manage records and recommendations within the company’s systems and processes accordingly. This way, things will not be lost in translation.

This article is adapted from Manage Quality Customer Service course module. To find out more about our courses, please visit Institute of Management website.

Turning Down a Customer: The Dos and Don’ts

While we would love to cater to all our customers, at times it is not possible. It may be because the request is out of our area of expertise. It may be because of the pricing involved. It may be because of some conflicts that arise along the way. Whatever it is, while we hate to disappoint our customers, sometimes turning down a customer is the right thing to do.

That said, there are good ways and bad ways to turn down a customer. Here are some dos and don’ts when you have to decide to pull the plug:

turning down a customer

1.     DO deliver them what you have promised

If you already have a mutual agreement in the first place, make sure to always deliver what you have promised. You may not be able to continue the partnership, but the previous arrangement is still your responsibility.

2.     DO give a professional explanation

When turning a customer down, it is easy to go with the generic phrases of not being able to meet the customer’s request. However, few do the extra mile in order to explain what the true reason is. If the tight deadline is the reason, tell your customers that. If you are uncomfortable with the nature and price of the project, explain this to them as well. This shows that you have considered what your customers have proposed and think them through carefully.

3.     DO give an alternative proposition

When you say no to your customer, he or she will feel rejected. By giving an alternative proposition or recommending another service that he or she can explore shows that you are willing to continue your relationship with him or her.

4.     DON’T give negative comments

Customers are still customers, and even when you turn them down, make sure to not give negative comments about them. While the customer that you turn down may not be able to do business with you, your customer’ friends may. If the process of turning them down is a negative experience, he or she may lose you a lot of potential customers as well.

5.     DON’T give them false hopes

If you don’t want to do business with them, it is impolite to waste their time by giving them false hope as you don’t want to reject them straightaway. This may result in worsening the relationship.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.

The Importance of Company Culture to Excellent Customer Service

During the past month we have talked a lot about what constitutes excellent customer service. We have given some tips on how to improve customer service in businesses. However, improving customer service is not only about changing external behaviours.

While giving positive body language, becoming better at handling complaints and being knowledgeable at the products and services offered improve customer service, they may not give the crucial effect if they are not based on a strong company culture. The mission, vision and culture of a company build the foundation of having excellent customer service.

company culture

What is company culture?

Every company is different. One company may have a vision to become the best in their field. Others have a vision to empower their clients instead. Knowing what each company strives for influences the type of customer service it gives. In short, a company culture makes the brand.

What comes to your mind when you think of Disney? What do you think when you hear about Google? These two companies have very different cultures and thus, different branding as well, which translates to different ways of handling customer service. One is not better than the other, although they do attract different kinds of customers.

For example, Disney emphasises on the emotional side of their customers, while Google puts more weight on making their customers’ lives better by advancement in technology. Disney talks about emotion; Google talks about practicality.

Why is company culture important?

By building one’s company culture, the things that are valued will be shown in how the employees handle their customers. If a company culture values time, excellent customer service in that company will include being timely towards their customers. If a company culture values making profit, that quality will also show in the employees’ interaction with their customers.

Thus, it is important for each company to know their own culture as it determines what kind of customer service they give.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.

7 Tips to Create Powerful Body Language

No talk about customer service will be complete without mentioning body language. While everyone believes in its importance, not everyone knows how to exhibit the perfect body language. Here are some tips to create powerful body language:

body language

1.     Mind your posture

One of the most important things in body language is to be aware of your posture. If you are standing, make sure you are standing straight with your shoulders relaxed. Don’t hunch or put your weight on one foot as if you are waiting on a long queue for lunch.

2.     Give firm handshakes

Handshakes tell a lot about a person. If the handshake is weak, it may be considered as being not confident of oneself. If the handshake is too strong, it may be seen as dominating. Always give a firm handshake while looking at your customers’ eyes.

3.     Don’t cross your arms

Sometimes when we are not bringing folders, we can unconsciously cross our arms while talking to our customers. This is impolite and shows that you are impatient in your encounter with them. Instead, put your arms beside your body.

4.     Make eye contact

No eye contact shows that you are not confident in dealing with your customers. Make sure that you make eye contact when talking to them. This shows that you are attentive to what they are saying.

5.     Do not fidget or bite your nails

Most people have one or two behaviours that they unconsciously fall into when they are nervous. However, this will show your nervousness to your customers, which will question your capability. Always look professional.

6.     Be mindful of your proximity

Always take note on how close you should stand beside your customer. Too close, and they will deem it as impolite, too far, and they will think that you are not interested in doing business with them. The ideal speaking distance for business setting is approximately 1 meter away from each other.

7.     Don’t be pushy

In customer service, one of the golden rules is to never be too pushy. Customers want to make their own decisions and not being pushed to making one. Wait as they are considering things over, and don’t display aggressive behaviours. Some customers love to be attended to straightaway, while others are perfectly content with knowing that they can call you for help when they need it. The key is to know the difference and act accordingly.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.

The Secret of Customer Service: Exceed Expectations

One of the most important rules in customer service is to exceed customer expectation. Imagine yourself picking up a book and being attracted by its cover. You have a certain kind of expectation on the book and yet when you read the first few pages, it is apparent that your expectation is not met. What will you do with the book? Put it back to the shelf, and move on.

secret to customer service

The same is true with customer service. When a potential customer walks into your shop, based on your first few minutes in giving services, he or she will have a set of expectations. Fall short on these, and the customer will try to find a better service. Meet these expectations, and you will have a customer.

That said, meeting one’s expectations is usually not enough. When expectations are met, the customer is left with moderate satisfaction. He or she will not necessarily praise your products or services, and come back to have a repeated purchase. The customer might even go to other brands to try if whether they can have greener pastures.

Thus in business, what you want to do is to exceed your customer’s expectations.

How to exceed customer expectation

While meeting expectation is ordinary, exceeding expectation is not. It requires extra effort from your side.

So what does it take to exceed your customers’ expectations? It may include never being late to appointments. It may include being ready with materials before being asked. It may include delivering what is promised, preferably before the promised time.

Here are some important points to note:

1.     Always overdeliver

Customers love it when we go the extra mile. If you promise that a certain product is going to be shipped in seven days, if you manage to beat the odds and get it shipped in four instead, your customers will appreciate it as many companies do not follow up after 10 days instead.

2.     Put your feet in your customers’ shoes

To exceed expectations, always think of the circumstances from their point of view. If you are a manager of a hotel, perhaps you would like to give a box of chocolate on every customer’s third visit. People love surprises and gifts, and your customers do too.

3.     Set your pricing well

Price is the top indicator of setting a customer’s expectation. If a service is priced highly, he or she will demand greater things from this service compared to the low-cost ones. Thus, always put extra attention in pricing your products and services to ensure for best value for price offered.

Want your business to get better? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.

5 Tips to Manage Conflict with Customers

When doing business, conflicts are at times unavoidable. However, there are good ways and bad ways to handle conflicts that may arise with our customers.

Here are 5 simple tips to resolve conflicts:

conflict with customers

1.     Stay calm

The first step to take when a conflict arises is to stay calm. It may be difficult to do, but this is one of the most important steps. Many employees lose their professionalism once a customer registers a complaint. When this happens, the situation may worsen instead of improve. Take a deep breath and think rationally instead of emotionally.

2.     Determine the problem

See the conflict from both sides: the company’s side and the customer’s side. Never attack the customer. Instead, attack the problem. If the issue is the low quality of the service provided, focus on that. If the conflict is about some misunderstanding between the company and the customer, talk it out.

3.     Listen

Sometimes, customers know that there is nothing you can do as an employee but what they want you to do most is to listen. They want their opinions as customers to matter. Acknowledging the problem sincerely can make a lot of improvements in resolving the conflict.

4.     Always offer suggestions on how the conflicts may be resolved

Offering ways to resolve the conflict show that the customers are important and valuable to the company. Escalate the problem to your superiors if needed.

5.     Focus on the future, not on the past

It’s easy to fall into the game of ‘Who’s to blame’. However, this will not solve anything. Finding out which one of the parties is wrong is going to worsen the already bad existing relationship. Instead, apologise if you are wrong. Offer a refund if you have to.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses on Customer Service.

Is your English good enough?

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  1. For business communication?
  2. For high school?
  3. For college and university?
  4. To study abroad?
  5. To migrate to another country?

Competence and confidence in written and spoken English will directly affect your economic potential.

Contact blueVisions and the Australian based Institute of Management in your city today to get:

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  • Real-life – simulations of social and business activities
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  • Fun – enjoy learning interactively with mind maps, X-words, word recycling and sharing
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Send email enquiry now to explore the possibilities.

More information – http://im-english.edu.au/

(Click for English, Bahasa Indonesia, والعربية, 普通话)

The Importance of Training Your Frontline Staff

While most often the people hired to become frontline staffs are of entry positions, these people hold the key to your prospective clients’ first impression with your company.

Frontline staff has a very important role. When a prospective client calls the company for the first time, he or she will talk to a frontline staff who will give the call to the respective department. When a prospective customer walks in to a shop for the first time, the frontline staff is the one who greets him or her. Imagine if the first impression that these staff give are bad.

The consequence? You will lose a customer.

But when a frontline staff member does his or her job well, those prospective customers may turn into loyal customers.

training frontline staff

Thus, it is very important to train your frontline staffs in the company’s products and services, as well as having excellent customer service skills.

Here are 10 tips for your frontline staffs to take their customer service skills to the next level:

  1. Acknowledge the customers: They are the most important people in your business.
  2. Maintain eye contact with customers: Fidgeting around will show that you are not confident in your role.
  3. Use positive words: There’s a reason why Disney always says, “The Park is open until 8 PM,” instead of, “The Park is closed at 8 PM.”
  4. Make the customers feel special: When talking to them, give your customers full attention. Do not talk with coworkers or texting on your phone.
  5. Smile: Body language speaks more than words.
  6. Introduce yourself: Politely introduce yourself and how you can be of assistance.
  7. Use the customer’s name: Always remember the name of the person who is on the phone with you.
  8. Listen more: When a customer is saying something, really listen to them and not just insisting on giving certain type of information.
  9. Familiarise yourself with the company’s products or services: Your customers want the exact information of what your business really offers.
  10. 10. When in doubt, ask a superior: Telling a false information to a customer may be fatal. Instead, always ask permission to get a higher-ranking employee to better accommodate your customers’ questions.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses on Frontline Management.

The 10 Commandments of Customer Service

From honesty to effective business handling, here are the top ten keys to excellent customer service:

10 commandments of customer service

  1. Value: Always offer something of value towards your customers. If they are looking for A, give information for A instead of insisting that they should buy B, C, D, and E. If you don’t have A in stock, tell the truth. Don’t waste your customers’ time. Or better yet, tell them where they can get a similar product/service from. Your customers will value your genuine will to help.
  2. Time is money: Your customers can be very busy people. Ask them specifically of what they want and give several best options that can cater their needs to save time for both you and your customers.
  3. Practice what you preach: If you have promised a customer that you will give extra three pillows because they have bought a bed mattress, give them the pillows. Always deliver what you promise.
  4. Don’t overpromise: That said, you should think carefully before you make promises to your customers. If you fail to deliver your promises, you may lose some important clients.
  5. Mistake: If you are making a mistake, admit it and make suggestions on how the situation can be improved. Most often your customer will understand and give you a second chance.
  6. Complain: Handle complaints professionally. If your client emails a complaint, reply as soon as possible. If your customers complain through social media, respond promptly. Don’t underestimate what one angry customer can do to your business.
  7. Ask for feedback: But don’t just ask for feedback for formality. Really listen to what your customers are saying. If several people are saying the same thing, it may be time to take action.
  8. Employee’s training: Customers come to you to learn more and to get more information about your products and services. If they meet an employee who is not knowledgeable in the area, they will doubt your reputation and be reluctant to do business with you.
  9. Always try to give solution: There’s a difference in saying, “We can’t help you with this project,” and “We are currently not offering this project, however, there are several other similar projects which you can browse through to see if you are interested.”
  10. Make it easy to do business with you: Give clear information on what will they get if they do business with you. Make the refund process easy. Bottom-line, don’t make your customers feel frustrated to do business with you.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.

Know Your Target Market: Why is it Important to Building Great Business

Do you know the people who are going to do business with you? Are they young mothers in their 20s? Are they middle-aged men who have big families? If not, it’s time to find out.

You may be thinking that defining your target market is not important. You don’t want to lose opportunities to be able to catch all kinds of fish out there. Limiting your business to just one segment will decrease your potentials to cater to different audience.

But it’s not true. In fact, by casting a wider net, you may end up with no fish to catch at all. Your product or service may be deemed too general, and as competitions between businesses continue to tighten, you may not be qualified to enter the race at all.

target market

Why defining your target market is important

Defining your target market is important to your business because it helps to focus your business. Rather than trying the long shot of pleasing everyone, it’s better to please a hundred loyal customers.

Take a step back and evaluate your products and services. Who will benefit most from your business? Have you been selling school equipment to fathers instead of mothers? Are the messages of your services written to the wrong audience?

For example, the message of your business is selling cooking utensils to employed, middle-class mothers in their 30s who don’t have much time to cook dinner is different compared to selling the same products to retired women in their 60s.

Furthermore, if you already know who your target market is, you can narrow down your strategies to build meaningful relationships with them. Good news is, people in that same group will most often talk to each other, so your brand will have a better chance to be heard.

Want to get better at your career? Visit the Institute of Management website to find out more about our courses.