There are no easy rules for good customer service. Rather, there is a need to focus on the details and make sure your best customers get superior attention. They can power your profits to new highs.

  • Communicate to every employee who your best customers are
  • Ask your customers what they need from you to stay your client
  • Learn from your "lost" clients by asking them why they left
  • Track and rectify mistakes and admit it when you are wrong
  • Rectify mistakes and errors quickly
  • Listen to employee suggestions, they are usually on target
  • Spend pennies to earn dollars by getting things done the right way
  • Use mystery shoppers to "shop" your business and listen to what they say

Experts such as Bill Shulby, president of Customer Asset Management Co., suggests that a company need only realize that "even the most complex changes often involve no more than a new perspective on things you already are (or should be) doing."

What's more, Shulby argues, this approach "need not be a lengthy system integration or organizational overhaul."

Shulby and fellow author, Cliff Scott, suggest the following precepts:

  1. Identify your top customers, laminate the list and give it to every employee. Make sure these client's goods are shipped faster than customers that contribute less to the bottom line.
  2. Understand what "platinum service" means and document it. Even if it is not all doable today, we all do better when we have something concrete to shoot for.
  3. Ask, ask, ask. You must directly ask customers what they want.
  4. Interview five "lost" customers. This is one of the cheapest, most worthwhile activities a company can do for itself.
  5. Walk a customer complaint through to completion. This is a tried-and-true technique from the "quality" movement. Take a single complaint from inception and hand-walk it to completion. Physically doing this, with no shortcuts, is the surest way to comprehend what your customers deal with. It usually produces obvious the customer side.
  6. Deliver a one-page questionnaire to the sales force. Ask them to look at each step of the delivery cycle and ask how to make their customers happier.
  7. Implement an employee suggestion program. When properly deployed, we've seen outstanding results for operational efficiency and customer relationships. There seem to be three keys: Give your employees a specific topic-area focus; don't have an open-ended time frame ? use start and stop dates to create focus; and report back on what was used and recognize contributors.
  8. Spend pennies to save dollars. Make sure your employees have the tools to service your clients adequately. Having them strain to satisfy a client's need without the proper tools to do the job, can ultimately cost the company in the long run.
  9. Identify your "lighthouse" customers. You probably have some customers with constant demands/complaints who always want what amounts to "special service." If you follow a policy of "grin and bear it," you lose out on both ends of the equation. Analyze their requirements and decide if you want to keep them as a client. It may be more profitable to cut them loose.
  10. Use mystery shoppers. This technique is well known in retail, but nothing prevents its use in other industries. Shop yourself and the competition. Find out how easy your company is to do business with versus your competitors. Identify strengths and weaknesses in the customer experience you offer and that offered by competitors.

Above all else, make sure your employees are listening to your customers.