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Hot Topics

Ideas for Customer Service Excellence – Part 2

February 28, 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 continue our Hot Topics series on Customer Service Excellence.

As a reminder, we’ve divided these ideas into seven general categories:

R         = Reliable

A(c)     = Accountable

D         = Disposition/Demeanor

I           = Integrated

O         = Outstanding

 

A(p)     = Appreciation

E          = Extra Mile

 

Two weeks ago we began our series with some ideas for providing reliable customer service. This week we continue with ideas to help you be more accountable to your clients. Your clients deserve to be able to hold you accountable for the actions you say you will take on their behalf. When problems occur, the way you handle them will determine whether your client will continue to do business with you. Here are some ideas for helping ensure they do just that:

  • Customer service is a 24×7 job. Provide special phone numbers and e-mail information for after-hours contact.
  • Former New York City mayor Ed Koch was famous for asking “How’m I Doin’?” If you don’t ask, how do you know?
  • Hold advertiser Focus Groups to obtain customer service feedback. Or, conduct an Advertiser Perceptual Study.
  • Under-promise and over-deliver. Review all station policies and procedures to ensure that customer expectations are met or exceeded.
  • Establish an advertiser advisory board and meet quarterly to discuss their needs and opinions. Include a cross section of different types of advertisers.
  • Hire customer service auditors to provide regular evaluations of your operations.
  • Ascertain your customer’s expectations through a brief questionnaire or personal interview.
  • Determine the top five most important things they expect from you. Include these items in the station’s “Letter of Commitment.”
  • Survey radio station employees on their opinions on improving customer service.
  • Create a short questionnaire, about 3-5 questions long, where the customer offers feedback on doing business with you. You can mail or e-mail it to customers, and offer an incentive (small gift) to encourage response.
  • Use the “sunset rule” for handling any customer problems. Before the sun goes down, set the process in motion to correct the problem, and most importantly let the customer know you are taking action. Hopefully, correct the problem before sunset!
  • Find out how your competitors handle customer service. Determine their key strengths and weaknesses. Based on this information, take action to improve your station’s customer service policies.
  • Have different phone lines for listener calls versus advertiser/daily business calls. Avoid busy signals!
  • When mistakes occur, review internal procedures, set high standards, make a big deal out of the mistake, and correct the problem immediately.
  • Have your phone company periodically check phone call volume and phone lines to ensure calls aren’t being lost, busy signals are kept to a minimum, and the existing system is adequate for demand.
  • Role play with receptionist, accounting, and traffic departments on how to handle customer complaints.
  • Role play in sales meetings on how to handle customer complaints.
  • Remember the following rules when handling complaints: 1) Control your temper. 2) Show concern immediately. 3) Listen attentively, don’t interrupt. 4) Restate the problem as you understand it. 5) Thank the person for complaining to you. 6) Apologize quickly, admit if you or your company are at fault. 7) Correct the problem.
  • When correcting problems, ask the customer “what would you like to have me do?” Often their suggestions might require less time/effort than if you made a suggestion on your own. The customer also has “ownership” of the solution.

While being accountable isn’t always fun, and it certainly isn’t the easy way out when problems occur, it is a key component of excellent customer service. Tune in two weeks from now when we focus on our next category, Disposition/Demeanor.

-Marc Greenspan, Partner

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