Action Items to Create Better Customer Service
We have talked about why great customer service is important and what it means to have good customer service. Now, let us talk about how to implement great customer service in your company. As a small business, getting the customer service equation right can be difficult. This is not only true with black businesses, but other small businesses as well. During the early stages of Great Black Speakers, I struggled greatly with customer service. I wanted my customers to be happy, but certain root causes precluded me from making this thought into a reality. Here are three root causes that lead to poor customer service and what to do about each one.
Cause 1: A culture that does not focus on great customer service
There are many pockets of black culture that are not naturally conducive to great customer service. Let’s face it. Sometimes when customers are mad, they may say some rude things. It is up to the business professional to diffuse situations instead of escalating them. If you were raised to “not let anyone disrespect you,” then you may have a hard time biting your tongue in tense situations with customers. The effect of these actions is loss revenue and a bad reputation. A mindshift needs to occur to where employees understand that how well they treat customers is directly proportional to how much money the business makes.
There are two things that a business has to do to become a customer-centric culture. First, it should initially hire people who know how to put customers first. Second, business owners must put a higher emphasis on training to ensure that everyone in the organization knows how to communicate with customers according to different scenarios. Either way, culture change does not happen overnight, and will take many months to implement properly.
Cause 2: Very limited resources that leading to stressed out workers
This was the issue that plagued Great Black Speakers in its early days. I was working around the clock trying to build my business, which resulted in me being the sales guy, tech guy, travel guy, support guy, and all other types of guys as well. Although exhilarating, it can be very stressful and lead a person to burn out. It was fine for me since I was the owner and GBS was my life, but putting employees under that kind of stress is extremely dangerous. Loading more and more functions on a limited number of people can lead to a burnout level from which it is hard to recover.
For staff with customer facing roles, try to limit how much you load upon them so that they can keep a positive demeanor about their jobs.
Cause 3: Poor Operations
Having a poor operational structure leads to missed opportunities to delight a customer. It is one thing to close a sale, but a completely different set of problems to deliver upon your customer promise. Could you imagine if you purchased a book from Amazon.com and it did not arrive on time or you called State Farm Insurance and no sales associate never returned your call? This happens often with small businesses and it needs to be improved.
Businesses need to layout every step of their process and determine the flow that they want to take customers through. This will lead to your team dropping the ball less often and happier customers when the process is implemented.
Customer service needs to be the first thing that black-owned businesses need to do correctly. Fair or not, it is one of the top barriers that prevent repeat customers from developing. As black small business owners, it is our job to improve on what customers want.
Lawrence Watkins is the founder of Great Black Speakers, Great Pro Speakers, and co-founder ofUjamaa Deals, which is a daily deal site that promotes black-owned businesses. He graduated in 2006 from The University of Louisville with a B.S. in electrical engineering and earned his MBA from Cornell University in 2010. Lawrence currently resides in Atlanta. You can follow him on Twitter@lawrencewatkins.