II. Development of Customer Service Standards & Guidelines
Company culture is the foundation of customer service. It is essential to have already a company culture based on individual care, creativity and progress before you set your client service standards. Basically, a successful company culture will result in successful customer service.
On the other hand, customer service standards and guidelines are developed in collaboration with the consumers. Consumers give feedback, and whether negative or positive, that feedback is an enormous goldmine of data that companies should use to improve processes and the companies should use to improve processes, products, and services.
Business experts claim that there are two large groups of customers for any company: the external customers and the internal customers.
The external customers are those who actually buy the product or the service. They are the people we are trying to impress in order to increase sales. The client service standard for our external customers is defined as a high-quality product at an appealing price delivered in a courteous and specialized manner.
The common guidelines for all companies that wish to deliver excellent client service are:
- High-quality, durable, and reliable products;
- A fast and trustworthy delivery process;
- A fair price affordable for most buyers;
- A polite and friendly attitude towards clients;
- Expert solutions and on-the-spot answers to customers’ issues.
These basic guidelines are supplemented by each company’s business culture according to its unique perspective, such as “treat others as you would like to be treated” or “friendly and passionate” or “our goal is more than success” – all the cultural taglines we’ve discussed earlier from famous multinationals – but they can differ.
Another added value to these common guidelines is transparency. Business owners might argue, how transparent can we be in front of our customers? Do they have to know about our hardships as a company? Or about the garbage piling up in our warehouse? Not really. Clients expect honesty about things that directly affect them: price offers, shipping protocols, product content and manufacturing processes.
For example, let’s say your company sells milk. In the advertisement, you present the milk as a 100% natural product; the customers expect the milk to be directly distributed to your company by local farmers. However, your milk actually comes from big industry warehouses, where it is treated with special additives for longer expiration date. Once clients find out about that, they will be disappointed with your service and complain that it was dishonest and fake. You will lose customers. On the contrary, if your milk is actually provided by local farmers, the clients don’t need to know that one day the farmer was late with the distribution because his car broke down in the middle of the road. This kind of information has no direct impact on them, so they are not concerned with it.
If companies were more open to the idea of transparency and honesty in external relations, they would have more chances to win loyal clients.
For a company to be completely successful, though, it has to pay attention to its internal customers as well. While most companies consider only the external customers as important clientele, their internal processes are not effective and in the long run they fail to be successful.