Ideas for Customer Service Excellence – Part 1
February 13, 2013
In a world where everything we consume, including advertising to a certain extent, is becoming a commodity, why should a business decision maker choose to work with you? Customer service is one of the key differentiators. Are you doing everything you can to make it easier for your customers to do business with you? The goal is for your advertisers to understand and recognize the benefit of having you on their team.
This week we begin a series of Hot Topics with ideas to help you provide excellent customer service.
We’ve divided these ideas into seven general categories:
R = Reliable
A(c) = Accountable
I = Integrated
O = Outstanding
A(p) = Appreciation
E = Extra Mile
Today we deal with reliability. It’s crucial that your clients be able to count on you to provide the level of service they need and deserve. Here are some ideas for doing just that:
- Always be prompt with appointments, proposals, and responses to customer inquiries.
- Keep your word on following up on special requests. If it takes you longer than expected, let them know you’re still working on the request. Keep the customer abreast of your actions.
- Prepare a “New Advertiser Kit” which includes information about the station, format, key personnel, contact information, business policies, “Why Radio” information, and more.
- Does the value of what you sell exceed the price? If customers perceive they are paying too much, they’ll never be satisfied. The most mutually beneficial situation is when the customer receives High Value and the seller receives High Price.
- Don’t accept someone’s advertising dollars if you really don’t believe the campaign will be effective (i.e., the creative is poorly done, the spot load is too light, the station match isn’t right for the customer). While it’s difficult to walk away from any potential business, you’ll ultimately receive much more respect and trust and the long term rewards will be greater.
- Give your advertiser a “Letter of Commitment” which describes expectations of how we do business together. This letter is used to set the guidelines for measuring customer service.
- For new advertisers, sign and deliver a Service Agreement. This will commit the salesperson to a specific number of personal visits, copywriting and producing the ad, a copy of ad for the client, copy adjustments if needed, written description of the schedule, a reminder the day before the campaign begins, follow-up after the campaign has run, and a planning session for future campaigns.
- Provide advertisers with a list of all key contacts at the radio station, phone numbers, and description of what they do. Provide station organizational chart.
- Give good service every time. Do the job right the first time. Being nice is just 20% of the job, the rest is quality and follow through.
- Give customers written proposals that support the image of the radio station; clean, professional, organized, factual, and free of typos. Use the customer’s logo in the presentation whenever possible.
- Return phone calls and e-mails promptly. Put a response time guarantee in writing (within 24 hours, 8 business hours, or “someone will respond to your inquiry within one hour”, etc.). If you are not going to be available, update your voicemail message and e-mail out-of-office assistant messages. Provide a backup contact if the issue is urgent.
- Understand the customer’s business. On the first visit with a potential customer, conduct a needs analysis interview. Use the RAB Client Needs Analysis form or some other template to ensure you collect all the information you need.
At its core, reliability is about setting expectations and then meeting or exceeding those expectations. The difference between good customer service and excellent customer service comes down to consistency.
We’ll continue our series in two weeks with suggestions for being accountable to your customers.
-Marc Greenspan, Partner