“If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.”

Almost all of us have customers; they could be internal or external to our company, they could be within the public or private sector, or they could be investors and shareholders.

Regardless of who are customers are, we need to not only provide them with an excellent product or exceptional service, we must also understand their needs and expectations, and build a valued relationship.

Customer Service = Providing quality and value

How committed are you to providing customer service? Do you have a means of knowing if your customers are satisfied? Do you have a measurement system that rates how effective you are? What about a process for reporting and tracking issues and complaints, and for soliciting feedback?

Providing quality and value is huge. Most often we think in terms of a service, a deliverable, or a product, but what about cost saving recommendations, ideas for increasing revenue, or assisting with the attainment of goals? Or what about enhancements for how they service their customers?

We need to understand what’s expected of us and take the time to validate that we’re meeting (and hopefully exceeding) those expectations. We need to understand the critical roles and processes that best support each customer, and we need to anticipate the needs and expectations of our customers.

What Happens When You Don’t Deliver

Another key dimension that is sometimes overlooked is understanding the impact to our customers when we don’t deliver. Other than diminished satisfaction levels, there could be penalties assessed for non-delivery, expenses for non-productive workers, and of course losing the customer overall.

Last week a major airline had a 5-hour computer outage resulting in canceled flights and thousands of stranded passengers; the fall-out will be experienced for several more days and the true impact (loss of repeat business) may never be known.

We once saw a department of 500 individuals sitting idly for several hours because of non-delivery of a product. If we truly know our customer, we understand their dependencies on us, can equate our lack of service to their loss of revenue and other downstream impacts, and have an awareness that they could look elsewhere for service or product providers.

Knowing our customer, being customer focused, delivering what we commit to, and listening and responding to their needs will lend itself to a sustainable customer relationship  – isn’t that what we all aspire for?