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    by Ty Howard

Consistent Quality Customer Service—
The Forgotten Norm

Copyright © 2013 by Ty Howard.   All rights reserved.

"The goal as a company is to have customer service
that is not just the best but legendary."

~ Sam Walton, Founder of Wall-Mart

Trends and fads come and go, and many are completely forgotten forever. Then you have some things that should never come and go, or be forgotten—like consistent quality customer service. Attracting a customer is one thing, retaining a loyal satisfied customer for life is another.

Today's world of business is very competitive, and the economy is volatile. That is why consistent quality customer service should always remain the norm inside of each and every business. It must be a resolute best practice, to both your standing and new customers. One might argue that most customers look at price and speed of service and not the consistent quality of service.

A recent Gallup study reveals that when it comes to memorable service people tell their friends about, it's more important that the service provided feels "thorough" and friendly, rather than quick. This was especially true for service in premium or prestigious markets, such as customer support at a bank.

Not only that, in a Customer Experience Report by RightNow, researchers found that the #1 reason customers would abandon a brand was due to poor quality and rude customer service, which were cited 18% more often than "slow or untimely service."

The results seem clear: Good service trumps fast service every time, in both customer retention and satisfaction.

So, how can a company build customer relationships that create and retain a loyal and satisfied customer base? For starters, a company has to ensure that interaction between a customer and any employee within the company is handled professionally, pleasantly, and efficiently to ensure consistent quality customer service is always being delivered as priority number one. This standard (norm) will caringly engage and show each customer that you truly appreciate them, and their decision to buy your products and/or services.

Consistent Quality Customer Service has to be made the norm for your company to become or remain the #1 provider of choice with its customers. It is not easy to satisfy each and every need of a customer, but all goods and services must be introduced and sold with consistent customer satisfaction. To be sure this is consistently happening inside your company, ask and let the customers share their honest customer service feedback after every customer service experience. This practice will help in improving your company's consistent quality service. Each time a customer is candid in observation, there is bound to be positive improvement. Any time a customer observes that their suggestions are being taken seriously, they will always come back. Often, not alone, but with more customers. Ways of getting feedback include email, instant messaging, call-in voicemails, in-person engagements, or social networks.

Consistency determines how frequent you show, as well as give, desired quality service to your customers. All customers expect consistent quality service. This simply means, achieving uniformity and fairness in the manner of delivery and execution of all services offered without placing too much emphasis on speed, occasion, place, and service provider. An example may be of a chain of business. If in one of your stores or departments there is promptness, accuracy and courtesy; yet, others lack the same, your company is creating and sending mixed signals to its customers. Instead, it will appear like good service is accidental and this may tarnish your company's desired reputation and brand.

When you want to offer consistent quality customer service, the main factors to consider are timelines, for example how long should a customer wait for a representative to professionally greet them and ask how they can assist them. Accuracy or error free, how well do all of your employees know your goods and services, and how efficient are they at communicating about your goods and services. Courtesy, how fast and kind are your employees with responsiveness, especially, when handling complaints from customers. Completeness, how thorough is your company in its ability to offer a complete package of goods and services. Variety, how good is your company in its ability to offer a variety of goods or services. Convenience, in terms of location or a user friendly Internet based website. Ambiance, in terms of humidity, cleanliness of the atmosphere, clutter free, and soft quality music among other attributes.

Reputation and cost are other attributes that have to be taken into consideration. The image of your company is dependent on a customers' perception and expectation of the service attributes your employee team provides them. Cost on the other hand, refers to the price of an item in relation to its use, quality, value and relevance.

On product consistency, customers expect and demand quality reliable products for their investment. In other words, the type of items they see in a given store, online, in a magazine or on television has to be of the same quality no matter where they go.

Today, customers place a lot of importance on comparison shopping and pricing. If a company has several branches, they tend to compare the quality of service from one store to the next. Location consistency should therefore be of importance to your company as well. To a customer, same name means same consistent quality of service. It does not matter whether one branch is in town while the other is high in the mountains or one department is on the first floor and the other department is on the seventh floor. The quality service you provide in various stores, branches or departments should always be consistently the same. Your company's reputation and brand depends on it.

This leads to another important attribute which is time. Clients do not wish to waste time at a particular place. This spoils the mood and creates undue anger. It is important to spend the least time possible in delivering consistent quality customer service. Customers expect that the time spent receiving various quality service has to be consistent. In a restaurant, the time taken to serve a customer a steak should not be extremely different from that taken to serve chicken. In a business office, the time taken to answer a few questions should not be extremely different from that taken to make and provide a customer with copies of an important document.

With consistent quality customer service becoming the forgotten norm, we are now witnessing more and more companies falling from the top, struggling with bad reputations, unable to repair tarnished brands, and/or going out of business due to neglect in the area of consistent quality customer service.

Refuse to allow your company to become a part of "The Forgotten Norm Casualties!" Make consistent quality customer service "The Sustainable Norm" inside your workplace by consistently communicating professionalism, earning and gaining respect, positively enhancing all customer relationships and experiences, and securing overall competitive advantage in the marketplace through customer service excellence. Companies that remember who actually pays the bills for them—will have and retain loyal satisfied customers – often for life – while celebrating their excellent reputation, brand approval, and business results.

About the Author: Ty Howard,
Mr. Untie the Knots®,
Freeing Maximal Business, Performance, and Human Potential Daily

Ty Howard is an internationally recognized authority on organizational and managerial practices that optimize employee performance and success. He is the creator and lead facilitator of the trademarked "Untie the Knots® Optimal Performance Process," and the author of Untie the Knots®: Improving Habits, Choices, People, Relationships, Performance and Results, as well as dozens of published articles on employee and organizational performance and development worldwide. For information on his programs and services, visit: http://www.tyhoward.com.


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