At Your Service: It is all about your reputation
11/01/2012

The reputation of your company is at risk every time the phone rings or someone comes into your store. Today’s customers are more savvy and have higher expectations. They know they will be surveyed and they also know there are several online outlets in which they can comment.

Simple online tools such as Yelp and Google+ allow customers to make their views public and they can do it quickly. While these tools may not be popular with some of your older customers, Generation Y and Millennials are very comfortable with new ways of doing business. Do not dismiss the span of these tools and the impact they can have on your reputation.

The best way to protect your reputation is to have high standards and do things right. Look for ways to consistently delight your customers and exceed their expectations. Be the company that everyone points to when they look for an example of a great customer experience.

This, of course, does not happen by accident. Your training plan needs to be comprehensive. Many of our customers are wisely looking at the training they have for their internal support team, as well as their customer-facing employees.

Your internal staff members — finance, human resources and administration — are in place to serve those who work directly with external customers. This group must be responsive, positive and cooperative. They need to be sensitive to the important role they play in the success of your organization.

In regard to training your customer-facing staff, it needs to include everyone. It cannot just be focused on certain departments, like inside sales and field service, or locations. Consistency is important to your customers.

Once your team has been trained, that training needs to be reinforced and measured. Don’t be fooled into thinking because you have trained your staff members or discussed customer service at a staff meeting, all of your customer service problems are fixed. Building a culture takes time and must be measured, coached, developed and trained.

Look at the success of any company that you respect and I can assure you that their customer service strategy is a long-term plan that has the support and leadership of top management. Exceptional customer service does not happen by accident.

You have worked long and hard to build your reputation. Now take the necessary steps to protect it.

Barry Himmel is senior vice president for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, Ohio-based consulting company offering sales and customer service training, marketing and mystery shopping services for the equipment rental industry. He can be reached at 614-766-5101 or barryhimmel@signatureworldwide.com. For more information, call 800-398-0518 or visit signatureworldwide.com.