Have you instilled in your employees how vital it is to make the client feel valued and satisfied after every business interaction? Going a step further, have you given them the tools and the freedom to go the extra mile in client relationship management, and supported them when they do so?
In a column for Entrepreneur magazine, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson promotes the importance of catching "people doing something right."
"Delivering good customer service requires frontline workers to receive support from co-workers - in effect, a chain reaction of teamwork that is consistent from beginning to end," Branson writes, adding that the weakest link will determine the strength of the entire chain of assistance.
Positive reinforcement is a key to establishing a corporate culture that prioritizes customer service. While it should be an expectation that your employees value and strive for the highest level of client satisfaction, it's also vital to acknowledge when they go beyond the call of duty. Coaching can empower your employees and partners as they work to establish client capital and consistently deepen clients' trust.
"No company can train its front-end people to handle every situation, but you can strive to create an environment in which they feel at ease 'doing as they would be done by,'" Branson explains. "Good customer service begins at the top. If your senior people don't get it, even the strongest links further down the line can become compromised."
The key to providing value-added service (the small gestures you make to surpass clients' expectations) is to not only fulfill your promises to the customer, but to be on the lookout for activities that go beyond the call of duty.
Branson tells the story of an agent who calmed an angry passenger after he had missed his complementary limo and had to take a taxi from New York City to the Newark, New Jersey airport. She reimbursed him for the fare with her own money, but her supervisor refused to compensate her because the agent had failed to get a receipt.
What kind of message does that send to others? When those on your staff succeed in making a client feel special, reward them by encouraging them to continue that behavior. Clearly outline what level of freedom they have to break with protocol or policy in order to deliver an enhanced level of service to the client.