Editor’s Note: Jim Cucinotta is a very senior executive, with over 20+ years of experience in leading sales, marketing, and operations teams. He is also an author on Flevy. You can view his firm’s business training guides here.
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We hear a lot about customer satisfaction, servicing the customers’ needs, and being customer centric. But what we are finding out, these terms mean different things to different people. Without a clear understanding of what service means, all parties involved will be disappointed.
When we discuss service in our company, we focus on P.A.I.R., realizing that the buyer and seller need to be coupled in order to achieve mutual success.
The key to being a star in the service world is to anticipate what your client is going to need. You need to truly understand who your customer is, what they like (dislike), and how you fit into their lives. Then make sure you have what they want ready when they want it.
Paying attention to your clients’ needs is another important skill to establish a culture of good service. You need to “tend” to your client. Listen and interpret what they say. Focus on your customer when they have a concern and follow up with them even if you think the matter is closed.
The best companies know that the client experience needs to be interactive. You need to take the time to talk with (not at) your customers to understand how, when and why they use your product or service. You also need to provide tools to help them learn about the ways your product or service helps them live better.
Reacting to a situation and turning it into a positive experience is another key service feature. This could be as simple as returning a phone call, email, or tweet. The key is that your customer receives a response. Respond promptly within an established timeframe (ideally within 4 hours) and discuss the situation in layman’s terms to ensure your client understands the resolution. Too many times, one side is disappointed because they do not understand what they agreed to.
The P.A.I.R. method of customer service works with internal and external customers. It is vital to understand that you need to service your colleagues with as much or more vigor than your customers. Without your company working cohesively, there is no chance that you will deliver on your promise to your customers.