The Opinion Page
News and comments about the issues facing today's SCM and Inventory Management professionals.
The following is a sidebar to my previous post about C/S, published in the September 2011 edition of Durham Business Times.
Seven Best Practices in Customer Service:
Use the Strategic Plan
Great service starts with the vision, and is driven throughout the firm via the mission, the statement of core values, and the strategic objectives.
Replace hundreds of weekly reports, emails, directives, and advisories with a single balanced weekly scorecard. Marvin Ellis, Executive Vice President at Home Depot US contends: “reports don’t buy hardware; customers do, so I want our associates focused on customers.”
Make the consumer a priority. Customer-facing retail store employees should focus on three top fundamentals: merchandise in stock, store appearance, and serving customers. Treat customers as friends and guests. Invite them into your home.
Work Force Management
In their June 2010 benchmarking report, the Aberdeen Research Group found that Best-in-Class retailers adopt formalized Workforce Management (WFM) techniques to drive the notion of customer centricity throughout the enterprise, increase staff productivity, centralize task management, and decrease overall labour costs.
Develop appropriate metrics to track improvement over time, results relative to plan, and results relative to Best-in-Class performers. Performance indicators might include percent in stock, percent positive feedback, complaints registered by category, or sales improvement. Customer feedback can be directed into aspects which might include store ambience, issue resolution, friendliness, ease of communication, or product knowledge.
Help customers complain
Each complaint is a learning opportunity. Ensure complaints are promptly recorded and categorized for root cause analysis. Open friendly lines of communication via telephone, a web site, or in person. Acknowledge complaints quickly. A customer who is frustrated when trying to lodge a complaint may be lost forever. Customers might not always be right, but they always deserve a response.
Have a recovery plan
Mistakes happen. Design and articulate a plan to recover. Retaining customers is critical, and turning a disgruntled one into happy one can accelerate sales. Act with the highest sense of urgency when the system fails. Understand the problem, and ask the customer what can be done to make the situation right.
John Skelton is the Principal Consultant and founder of Strategic Inventory Management.