CLE Leasing and Hitachi Capital Canada offer financing for commercial equipment. Our clients are businesses (SMEs or larger) or freelance workers whose revenue comes from a valued, patiently acquired clientele. Needless to say, dealing with customers equals customer service (CS). In this regard, and for just about any type of company, client satisfaction is a major contributing factor of commercial success. Let us take a moment to discuss it!
Customer service that serves you well
Recently, on June 14, 2016, Protégez-Vous magazine (1) published a list of the most liked companies from a sample of over 3,000 respondents. These respondents were asked to assess the customer service provided by financial services companies, telecommunications companies, retailers and airline carriers. Here are the results…
Companies judged to be above average – Top 3 in each of the four categories (in the order they are mentioned in the magazine)
- Financial institutions: Tangerine, RBC Royal Bank and BMO Bank of Montreal
- Telecommunications: Electronic Box, Virgin Mobile and Cogeco
- Retailers: Filion Électronique, Apple and MicroBytes
- Airlines: KLM Airlines, Porter Airlines and Air Transat
For top-level customer service (2)
A closer examination of these customer service champions reveals they all share an outstanding level of concern for their clients. They are at their clients’ service and freely admit that they depend on their clientele to reach a strong position in their respective markets. However, providing first-class customer service is not always as simple as having a “satisfaction guaranteed or your money back” policy or a soothing voice. In order for you to meet your clients’ needs and to fulfil their expectations, certain principles must prevail.
Doing business with you must be easy
Present your offer to your clients in a clear, understandable way. Know their needs and their expectations. Target the proper market segments. No one will purchase your products or use your services if your offer is cryptic or if your potential clients cannot recognize their usefulness. Additionally, take the time to get to know and understand your clients to determine how utilizing your products and services constitutes an advantage for them. This leads you to the next point…
Communications above transactions
Everyone wants to be more than simply a transaction, a contract or an identification number in a database. Although you may not be able to establish close, continuous relationships with each of your clients, you can make them feel important when you communicate with them. You can listen to them closely and actively, return their calls or emails in a timely fashion, wish them a nice day, thank them and, above all, you can sincerely express the desire to help them when they need it.
All of us want a sympathetic ear in which to confide. Clients want to know that you are listening to them. It may sound simple, but genuine listening is becoming increasingly rare. In a world filled with distractions, the temptation to multitask is more common than ever. You cannot pay close attention to clients and their needs if you are concentrating on something else. Although this may seem obvious, be courteous and respectful when communicating with your clients. I know this is not always an easy task, but a commitment to remaining professional, respectful and calm will always make you stand out.
Responding to clients is vital. Providing them with relevant replies and answers is essential and efficient. If a client is given an answer that is irrelevant, it will inevitably show that the customer service representative was not listening and the client will feel as if he has wasted its time. Clients are contacting you in order to solve problems, and if given a choice they would rather not have to talk to you at all! Please do not take this personally, but having to solve problems is not your client’s favourite thing to do. It is therefore up to you to ensure that this problem is resolved quickly. You have the opportunity to prove yourself efficient and for the client this efficiency could transform an unpleasant situation into a satisfying experience. Be certain to seize this opportunity!
The way in which your incoming calls are handled can genuinely become a source of phone rage. Telephone systems can be programmed to eliminate human contact or effectively guide clients toward the resource that is most relevant to them. If you implement such a system, be aware of the real motivations behind this decision and understand the consequences of your choices. For example, it is possible for you not to attribute a valid function to the telephone keypad’s “0” key. You would be perfectly within your rights; after all, this is a free country! However, if this shortcut to the comfort of hearing a human voice is deliberately inactive, please be aware that a number of callers may end up feeling frustrated. They expect to end their long ordeal by pressing “0.” If you make the deliberate choice to disappoint them you also elect to confine them within a system from which they want to escape. What will their state of mind be then? What opinion will they have of your company?
Your clients want to know that they have your full attention and that you are working towards meeting their needs. It is essential that you answer their questions quickly and solve their problems without delay. Clients should not have to call repeatedly or send multiple emails before obtaining a response. If you cannot give them an answer right away, acknowledge receipt, indicate when you will be able to respond, and ensure you fulfil that promise. It is important to manage expectations. Clients are often surprised — and always delighted — when you respond within the time period to which you committed. Responsiveness is a highly sought after quality and when applied, it is often rewarded.
CSI to seal the deal
In order for your customer service initiative (CSI) to-seal the deal, you must commit to its genuine importance. It must be part of your corporate culture; it must represent an essential value for your company, and your employees must feel invested in it. Promote good practices. Train your employees and raise their awareness. Be a role model and listen closely to your employees and colleagues in the same way that you expect them to act towards your clients.
Assess your client’s level of satisfaction
I consider this assessment essential. It can be performed more or less formally, at shorter or longer intervals using a more or less detailed evaluation grid — but it must be done. You need to know what your clients think of you and believe me, the saying that “any publicity is good publicity” is complete nonsense! What you want is the “good publicity” only!
When it comes to assessing client satisfaction, customer service represents a major component. An assessment entails measuring a range of aspects regarding customer satisfaction, collecting comments, analyzing them and, above all, taking action. Which aspects should you evaluate? It depends on the type of company and the significant points of contact that punctuate the client’s experience. Here is a partial list:
- Time on-hold;
- Professional and intelligible communication (verbal and written);
- Telephone system;
- Employee’s interactions with clients;
- Employee’s competence in dealing with clients;
- Ease of solving problems and obtaining answers;
- Ease of reaching the right person;
- Courtesy and politeness;
- Promptness in returning calls or replying to emails;
- Overall client experience satisfaction;
- Client’s inclination to recommend you to family and friends;
- Client’s inclination to want to do repeat business with your company;
- Weaknesses your clients recommend improving on;
- Client’s assessment of your representatives (interactions, efficiency, expertise, ability to give good advice, ability to find solutions, etc.).
Something to consider
Before inquiring about satisfaction, always remember to ask respondents what they value as the most important aspects of good customer service. This will enable you to determine the extent to which your clients are satisfied or dissatisfied with the elements that are significant to them. Your assessment of the client’s’ satisfaction regarding customer service will vary depending on which qualities each client considers to be important.
1- https://www.protegez-vous.ca/Argent/service-clientele [in French]