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The Five Core Customer Care Principles

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Any organization which has customers needs to ensure that it interacts with them in a positive way. Of course nobody wants to run a bad company with a poor reputation, but it may be that the view of the ordinary power consumer of a utility is different to that of the loftiest C-level executive.

Customers are the lifeblood of a utility. Their satisfaction is closely linked to retention, repeat business, and the good word-of-mouth or online reviews that attracts new users. To satisfy these people, you merely have to resolve their issues and do it swiftly, which can be easier said than done. At a minimum, users of your services expect to be listened to and understood, taken seriously, treated with respect, and above all to receive timely and effective action.

 

Core Customer Care Principle No. 1

 

The first principle is that to customers, your front-line representatives are the company. Customers don’t know what happens behind the scenes, so their impression of your organization stems from “customer touch-points”.

To ensure that customers receive a favorable impression, here are a few questions about customer touch-points for you to consider:

 

  • Where are the various customer touch-points in your company?

  • Do front-line employees see themselves as ambassadors for the organization?

  • Are they well-trained in communication skills?

  • Are they able to satisfy the needs or resolve the problems of customers?

 

Core Customer Care Principle No. 2

 

Are your employees happy with their job. If not, they’re usually not motivated to demonstrate a high level of customer care. They’ll probably do just enough to get by.

The following are some key questions to ask yourself about employee satisfaction at your company:

 

  • What is the turnover rate for your customer care employees?

  • How do you measure employee satisfaction and motivation?

  • When employee satisfaction is poor, what do you do about it?

  • Do performance issues in your organization stem from the employee’s attitude or from his/her skill level?

 

Your answers to these questions will tell you what you should do to build a culture of strong customer care.

 

Core Customer Care Principle No. 3

 

The next key principle of customer care is to show customers that they’re valued by your organization. Many customers don't know this. The most important aspect of showing customers that they’re appreciated is to take care of their needs or requests in a timely, efficient, and appropriate manner.

Here are three questions to keep in mind:

  • If you were a customer of your organization, would you feel valued?

  • When closing a call or other type of customer interaction, are employees expected to thank customers for their business?

  • Do customer-facing employees understand the importance of earning a customer’s trust and loyalty on a continuing basis?

 

Fortunately putting this principle into action is usually quite a simple step.

 

Core Customer Care Principle No. 4

 

In many organizations, internal customers, perhaps colleagues or other departments within a large company are also clients who need services. They are often overlooked in customer care. Those companies in which a customer care culture is deeply embedded do not make distinctions about internal and external care. Every employee’s task is simply to achieve excellence with each and every part of their job.

To help you assess the quality level of internal customer service in your organization, do ask yourself the following questions:

 

  • Do your employees know who their internal customers are?

  • Are employees measured on the service they provide to internal customers?

  • Do they understand that everyone in the organization is a service provider?

If you feel that you might need work in any of these areas, the next principle can help.

 

Core Customer Care Principle No. 5

 

You cannot expect people to perform to the highest standards until you’ve given them the knowledge and skills to do that. If you’re serious about embracing a culture of customer care, you need to educate employees as to what this looks like in practice. It shouldn’t be taken for granted that employees will know what goes into good customer service—internal or external. Providing them with training in both your company’s customer care philosophy and in their job-specific service skills is an essential part of best practice. Once employees have been trained, it’s essential for them to be held accountable for using those skills in reality. This means strong and consistent teaching on a continuing basis. Finally, once you’ve trained employees and held them accountable for putting their training into practice on the job, make sure you reward them for their success.

 

Summary

 

The five core customer care principles discussed in this article are as follows:

Principle No. 1: To customers, front-line employees are the company.

Principle No. 2: Employee satisfaction matters!

Principle No. 3: Show customers they’re valued. Don’t assume they know it.

Principle No. 4: Internal customer care is as important as external customer care.

Principle No. 5: Train your staff to deliver great service—and hold them accountable.

 

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