Friday, June 5, 2009

Customer Service: 3 Ways You Can Easily Avoid Mistakes

Last year at about this time, I made my first visit to Colorado Springs to attend a weekend of meetings, and I have returned for the same event this year. After that visit, I wrote a short article about the importance of checklists, following a small oversight at the hotel. I've already rediscovered the checklist solution, and I'll briefly cover the ways you can make a better impression on your customers, no matter what kind of service you provide.

  1. Always look at your service from the point of view of the customer. This is really a no-brainer, and yet I am consistently stunned at the number of service-based businesses which manage not to do this. It requires you to divest yourself of what you already know (something Dan Heath and Chip Heath call "The Curse of Knowledge") and look at your service with nothing but a customer's eye. If you can do this, you'll avoid a lot of fundamental mistakes.
  2. Use checklists. It's really easy to assume that you will do repetitive tasks well because you (or your staff) do them every day. That assumption overlooks distraction, boredom, and carelessness as flaws in your service delivery.
  3. Ask the people who actually do the work where the pain points are. Sometimes, errors and omissions happen because it's just "too hard to get things done the right way," and your staff winds up taking shortcuts or leaving steps out in order to get the expected amount of work done. Listen to the staff, and implement ways of avoiding the shortcuts. Decide what really needs to happen, and make it as easy as possible for it to be done right.

So, there you are - 3 easy ways to avoid the extra work of having to backfill for customer requests, and to ensure that your customer gets a great impression of you on the first contact, and on every contact.

Give it some thought.

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