Sometimes there can be a startling difference in the level of service that companies provide. Why is that? Do some companies just have the secret sauce that others don’t? Are some companies staffed with more dedicated employees who are committed to serving customers? While there are standard best practices that span across industries and businesses, the fact is that finding the best way to serve customers is different for every company. The key is discovering what works and sticking to it.
Consistency must be key
We have worked with manufacturing companies that have nearly perfected the art of customer service by focusing on consistency in every department and interaction. That includes consistency in product manufacturing and what options are offered to customers. By ensuring they offer the same options to every customer, companies have been able to put a greater focus on developing their expertise in building products that maintain the highest levels of quality.
Connect with the right person
Another thing some of the best customer-focused companies do is allow customers to connect with the right person — whether in the front office or on the factory floor. If they have a technical question, they can directly reach an engineer who works on the product and has expertise. When that happens, the engineer ensures the sales or account person knows what was discussed so they are kept informed.
Make it a team effort
Opening direct communication between the customer and the exact person who can best meet their needs means every employee takes ownership. There are no hand-offs. And there’s no, “It’s not my job to talk to customers and help them with problems, it’s the account person’s job.” Instead, it’s jumping in and working together to help the customer. This kind of team effort ensures the customer is taken care of no matter what the issue or when it arises.
Imagine if you were the one company in a customer’s day that responded immediately and helped them with their needs. Responsive companies stand out and are more likely to generate loyal customers. When a manufacturer has more than one person who can help answer a customer question or solve an issue, they are better prepared to respond quickly.
Focus on quality control
The best manufacturers have multiple quality control gates along the production line that stop the process if an error is detected. The best companies give their employees freedom to stop the process if they don’t feel 100% confident in its quality. They also do a final quality check, gathering the right team to ensure the product being delivered is superior and error-free. Unfortunately, quality is not the most important objective of every company out there. And even for those companies who put quality front and center, the fact is that human and even machine errors can happen.
So, while focusing on quality and ensuring final products are examined before delivery should be a priority, when an error does happen, it’s important to address it and take care of the customer.
Service is an ongoing journey
The customer service experience is an ongoing journey for the best manufacturers. Customer needs change, manufacturing processes are updated, employees come and go. Along the way, customer service practices must evolve to meet these changes. By regularly re-evaluating their customer service and quality control, companies can stay current and ensure they’re continuing to deliver the highest levels of both.
There is no magic formula for providing great customer service. It’s a process of discovery for every company as they analyze their customers’ needs, their teams, products, industry and more. Considering that very few, if any, of these things remains the same for long, a constant evolution of the customer service experience is required for those who want to remain at the top of their game.
BARRY LABOV, a two-time Ernst & Young entrepreneur of the year and inductee into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, is founder, president and CEO of LABOV Marketing Communications and Training in Fort Wayne. He has written and co-authored more than a dozen business books and is a regular columnist in business publications.