If you’ve ever been to a Disney amusement park, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget. The staff, or cast members as they’re called in the Magic Kingdom, have one job: Ensure guests have a good experience while visiting the Kingdom. The parks are beautiful and the staff members are always smiling and helpful. Disney parks feature pristinely groomed landscaping, storefronts out of a storybook, and incredible entertainment you won’t find anywhere else. If you’ve ever wondered how they do it, you wouldn’t be the first. So many people want a piece of the magic that Disney teaches others to practice business excellence the way Mickey does.*
Offhand it would seem the only thing a support services company has in common with Disney is the roller coasters — there are a lot of ups and downs in the oil and gas business! However, your company also shares Disney’s need to create an excellent customer experience. When customers have a good experience doing business with you, they remain loyal to you, are less likely to drop you over price, and will gladly refer you to others.
How can a support services company create a great customer experience on par with Disney? These 10 customer service guidelines will help bring your company from mundane to magic.
- Strategic preparation. The service you provide is only as good as the systems that support it. Envision the customer’s experience at every step of doing business with you and prepare to deliver excellent service at each step. Ensure internal communications and processes provide an experience that will make customers eager to do business with you. And make sure everyone on your team works toward the same goal.
- Make a good first impression. Nothing says, “clients are important to us” like a live person answering the company phone with a friendly greeting. Your company invests a great deal of effort and expense to get the phone to ring; don’t risk losing an opportunity by letting it ring more than three times or having it answered with an auto attendant. Ensuring that the phone is answered promptly in a warm and enthusiastic tone lets the caller know your company is eager to do business with him or her. This emphasis on impressing clients should extend to your company cellphones, as well. Have staff use standardized professional greetings.
- Excellent communication skills. Train your staff to actively listen and to be resourceful and accommodating. Conversations should be friendly, yet professional. Never use slang or negative references. Clarify the customer’s request by repeating what you heard him or her say. This ensures you have the details correct, particularly if the customer has a complaint.
- Problem solving. Customer service is all about problem solving. Whether you are solving a service or billing issue, or the occasional service mystery, finding the glitches in your customer experience and seeking ways to fix them is an example of proactive problem solving. Once a fix is in place for one client, the same solution can be applied elsewhere to improve service companywide. Create a culture within your organization that recognizes problems are inherent to business and encourages proactive problem solving that serves your customer, and thus the company, well.
- Handle complaints like a pro. Let’s face it, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Providing outstanding customer service requires that you be prepared to handle a complaint with professionalism and courtesy. Train your staff to manage these situations and to follow up with a written apology. Most customers are understanding, but the way you address and correct a mistake will determine if they continue to do business with you.
- Professional correspondence. In your office, set a standard for all employees to treat customer correspondence as part of branding and encourage them to ensure that correspondence represents the company professionally. Create templates that have your company logo, tagline, and contact information for a polished and consistent presentation. Handwritten documents — proposals, fax covers, or letters — don’t convey professionalism and are often difficult to read.
- Be passionate about taking care of customers. No matter how small or large your business, your staff needs training that establishes guidelines and expectations for handling your customers. Train everyone in customer service using the same written guidelines and protocols. Encourage them to be passionate about outstanding customer service by recognizing a job well done. Consider ongoing training sessions to reinforce and maintain high standards. Also, augment your training efforts by sending staff members to one of the multitude of seminars available for customer service professionals.
- Follow-up. Follow-up can mean the difference between securing a client and losing the job to a competitor. Return all calls within one business day. Promptly resolve pending customer issues and contact them with the information they need. If there has been a service issue, follow up with them within a few days to make sure the problem has been resolved to their satisfaction.
- The golden rule. The golden rule of customer service is to treat your employees as you would like them to treat your customers. Happy employees create happy customers. If you want your staff to be friendly, professional, and helpful, you must emulate those standards in the workplace. Don’t tolerate negativity, foul language, and bad-mouthing in the office; it will ultimately result in poor-quality customer service.
- Be easy to do business with. This is the cornerstone of great customer service. Help customers solve their problems quickly and easily. When possible, communicate with them using the method they most prefer, whether that’s by phone, email, social media, mail, or in person. Make recommendations that they will appreciate and note preferences for equipment and billing. Document conversations on their account so everyone on your team knows their expectations and can assist them with ease.
* Disney Institute, Disney’s Approach to Business Excellence
About the Author
Beverly Lewis runs a marketing agency, the Beverly Lewis Group, dedicated to helping small businesses with marketing solutions. Having served as the director of sales & marketing for two portable sanitation companies, her unique background combined with an expertise in marketing is well suited for the portable sanitation industry. She believes that a company’s image is represented in every aspect of the company. She is an active member of the PSAI and was awarded the distinguished Sani-Award in 2008 for outstanding service. Contact Beverly at email@example.com or visit www.beverlylewisgroup.com.