The Three Proven Customer Service Attributes that Drive Loyalty

By | Small Business

Providing really effective customer service doesn’t have to be difficult. Like most things in life it abides by the famous 80/20 rule: 80% of the value can be delivered with 20% of the work.

The problem is that most organisations don’t know which is the right 20% so they can’t deliver it effectively.

Over the past 10 years we have sent and analysed thousands of customer feedback surveys in a variety of industries.

Based on that extensive dataset here are three service attributes that consistently drive 80% (or more) of customer loyalty across a range of businesses.

1. Do What You Say You Will Do.

If you could only instil one service mantra in your staff this is it. Whether you call it “reliability” or “consistency” or simply “do what you say you will do”, this drives more customer loyalty than any other single service element.

The hardest part of delivering this attribute consistently is having staff understand that the key to reliability is setting the right customer expectations.

Most people want to deliver good service but, with the best of intentions, this can lead them over-promise.

“Of course we can deliver a rush order of that widget, in pink with purple spots by Friday!”

The trouble is that overpromising is the enemy of reliability.

Instead of being optimistic, as most customer service and sales staff are, teach your staff to be just slightly pessimistic in their promises.

When they miss an optimistic deadline they have to break the bad news to the customer and that hurts. It hurts the customer’s trust and the person’s ego.

Just beating a slightly pessimistic deadline drives much more customer loyalty. Give them the, slightly, bad news up front and then over deliver.

2. Responsiveness

Responsiveness can be a double edged sword because if you are very responsive it drives up customer loyalty but it also drives up customer expectations. The more responsive you are the more responsive you have to be.

However, the pain is worth it because the value is high; let me show you how high.

The chart below is research from the sales performance industry where outbound calls are made in response to a request by a prospect from a web form.

It shows the number of conversions versus the number of minutes since the customer request.

The seemingly insignificant change between responding in 10 minutes rather than 5, results in an 80% reduction in leads.

The Three Proven Customer Service Attributes that Drive Loyalty image ramshaw.png

Source: The Lead Response Management Study, 2009

The immense impact that responsiveness has on sales, and customer loyalty, is clear.

In practice, staff often don’t want to contact the customer until they have a resolution but this is the wrong approach. Their need is no to **solve** the customer problem in five minutes only to respond to the customer in five minutes.

The difference is important and needs to be clear to staff.

They don’t need to perform the customer service in five minutes but they do need to respond and say “I’ve heard you and here is what is happening”

3. Easy to Do Business With

In practice, your customers will trade off a host of other service attributes if you are easy to do business with. They will forgive a slightly less fancy showroom or better trained service technicians if working with you is easy.

So look for ways that you can make it easy for customers. Here is an example from our own business:

In our consulting business we are often told by customers that our proposals are easy to understand. One of the simplest things we do to make it easy for customers is to provide clear instructions on how to proceed with the proposal.

To accept this proposal

1. Tick applicable Option(s)
2. Sign this page
3. Fax/scan and email entire “Investment” section of proposal to 555 555 555

It sounds simple (and it is) but how often have you gotten to the end of a *War and Peace* proposal, decided to proceed but been none the wiser on just how to do that.

You can see that it’s little things that make the difference her. So, look for ways in your business to make things easier for customers.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: The Three Proven Customer Service Attributes that Drive Loyalty

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