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Eight Tips to Create a World-Class Customer Service Experience

8 Tips to Create a World-Class Customer Service Experience

There are many reasons that consumers love their favourite stores and brands. The quality of your products or services ranks high on that list. Equally important is the overall service experience, which can make or break your customer relationships.

Think Ritz Carlton, Starbucks, Costco, Amazon and Porsche. These companies are incredibly successful because of the customer service culture they foster. Legendary customer and employee practices are so renowned at Ritz Carlton that the company has its own leadership centre to teach executives around the world about driving cultural transformation. Starbucks will customize your drink exactly as you want it, Costco has the best return policy in retail and Amazon will immediately send a replacement for a lost package with no questions asked or fault implied.

Then there’s Porsche, which is synonymous with excellence, power, luxury and quality. This applies both to the high standards of its vehicles and the service experience that builds unwavering loyalty among its clientele.

We spoke with Khalil Khan, Service Manager at Downtown Porsche in Toronto, to learn the secrets behind the company’s extraordinary customer service and how their practices can be applied to a business of any size or type. Here are eight things you can do to take your customer experience to the next level.

  1. Test drive the experience.

    Step back and experience your business from the customer’s perspective. If you run a busy bricks and mortar location, come in during a peak time to make a purchase. See if you can find an employee to help you locate the item you want to buy. Does he or she greet you with confidence and a welcoming smile? Ask questions, take the item to the checkout counter and actually pay for it. See how the item is packaged and if you are thanked for coming in today. “If you want to deliver something to a customer you have to experience it yourself, then you can see if we as a team are delivering on our expertise and our promise to our clients,” explains Khalil.

  2. Create convenience.

    When someone books a service appointment at Porsche, they are asked open-ended questions about the reason for their visit. The customer goes away happy with an appointment at a convenient date and time. What they don’t see is the preparation that goes on behind the scenes before they arrive with their car.

    “If the customer describes a vibration, we try to pre-diagnose the issue with the shop foreman so we can order any parts that may not be in stock,” says Khalil. “We’ll drive the customer to work in their own car so they can explain or show us what is happening. Porsche will even pick up the vehicle from a customer’s office, nanny or at the airport. Anything that makes the situation less problematic for the customer.”

    Business owners can apply this Porsche philosophy to their own operations in many ways. If a customer calls looking for a specific item, can you have it ready for them at the register when they arrive or offer to deliver? If an item is not in stock in a specific colour or size, how quickly can you have it shipped to them? If something needs to be assembled, consider offering assembly as a value-added service. Options to create convenience are limited only by your imagination.

  3. Make customers feel valued.

    It’s amazing how far simple courtesy can go. Take a genuine interest in people. Learn their names and look them in the eye when you speak. Ask about their day, their work, their family or see if you can uncover a common interest. Always remember to say thank you.

  4. Follow up after the purchase.

    At Porsche, the receptionist reaches out to each and every customer within three to seven days of a service appointment. This is something any business can implement. Your business can take this one step further if the person that served the customer personally makes the call, sends an email or reaches out by text.

  5. Speak with a single voice.

    This means training and lots of it. If your staff always has the latest information about your products and services, they can always answer customer questions. This will create a feeling of confidence and showcase your team as experts in your industry.

    “We train everyone from lot personnel and service advisors to technicians and parts personnel. Everyone has to speak one language and with one voice because when a customer asks a question, they are asking their professional,” explains Khalil. “We should always have the best response and know how things work, so we have to be on our game every day.”

  6. Ask your customers for feedback.

    Most people are willing to share their opinion, so why not see what your customers think of the service they’ve received from your business?

    “I would bring customers in and ask about our service and what they think we can change. If you have clients tell you honestly how to better serve them, this will help across the broad spectrum of all your clients,” suggests Khalil, who recommends that you get a range of opinions from different demographics and personality types.

  7. Value the opinion of your staff.

    It’s easy to make a plan and ask your staff to follow it, but you need their buy in to create passion. See what the people who are entrenched at delivering the service experience think and really listen to what they are saying. They will likely have suggestions that help make your customer service even better.

    Even if you have a staff of two or three, listen to what the person next to you is saying to your clients. Everything you and your team do should match the company and credo you are trying to deliver.

  8. Learn from other businesses.

    “Walk the beat you want to learn,” suggests Khalil. “Be with like-minded businesses and see how they operate. You have to know who your competitors are and whether you are delivering what they are delivering or if you are doing more. These days this is a moving target and you cannot stay stagnant. What you did yesterday is yesterday, so think about how you are going to deliver everything better tomorrow.”

Asked for a final piece of advice, Khalil emphasizes that customers are people. “Make sure the people you do business with know you and that you know their needs and wants. Everybody is an individual and needs to be heard.”