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Want to Really Raise the Bar in Customer Service? Take it from these guys

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Everybody’s busy these days – your clients, your candidates, your prospects.

What are the best ways to connect with them in our fast-moving, digital world?  Forbes.com Contributor Robert Reiss interviewed three top CEOs to find out.  What they said may surprise you – and may change the way you think about customer service.

If you don’t have time to read the entire article, I’ve summarized the key takeaway points (a little shareworthy service, just for you!):

  • In service, simplicity sells.  According to Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint Nextel: “Customers like simplicity and they’ll pay a premium for (it).”
  • A personal touch is still critical.  Tom Fricke, CEO of HMSHost says that, despite the move toward social media, “The most impactful thing I do is go visit our operations and personally engage with associates, and the second most impactful thing are handwritten notes to highlight and praise excellent customer service in action.”
  • Customer service metrics matter.  Find out which measurements correlate directly to bottom-line results for your staffing firm.  Then start tracking those numbers.  When interviewed, the CEOs listed: customer churn (those who leave), total number of calls to customer service, customer satisfaction surveys, mystery shop scores and total market share.
  • Find genuine ways to connect with customers.  Each of the three business leaders mentioned unique ways they engage customers to raise the bar in service:
    • Dan Hesse’s employees started a letter-writing campaign called “thank you Thursdays.”  Every Thursday, employees throughout Sprint Nextel sit down with a list of customers and hand write letters thanking them for doing business with Sprint.
    • Tom Fricke’s company started a mystery shopper program to get feedback on the most basic elements of their customer service – simple things like whether a staff member looks a customer in the eye, smiles and says, “Good morning.”  Fricke personally reviews mystery shop reports and formally recognizes associates who deliver exceptionally friendly service.
    • Bob Evans, CEO of Churchill Downs, finds seemingly trivial things to do for his customers – like taking the time to personally escort a patron to his destination.  He believes that if employees witness him paying attention to the smallest details of customer service, they’re likely to do the same.

You may be thinking that these ideas aren’t that revolutionary – that they aren’t really that difficult to implement.  And you’re right.  Often, shareworthy service isn’t about being the fastest or most technologically advanced.  It’s about finding authentic ways to connect with your customers that truly make a difference for them.

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