With the ever-increasing focus on improving the customer experience, it’s wise for companies to conduct annual service audits. There is always room for improvement, especially with how quickly technology is advancing.
In this article, the team from Supportyourapp.com, Support-as-a-Service company that provides secure technical and customer support to tech companies and startups, offers valuable tips on improving customer service.
Identify Customer Needs and Expectations
What your customers need and expect today can be very different from five years ago. Reach out to clients and ask for their feedback on what they want from you. Speak to your employees about what they hear clients say and analyze recurring complaints for ways to improve.
Finally, perform extensive market research. What are your competitors doing differently? Who else competes for your customer’s dollar? Has your client’s disposable income increased or decreased? How well does your product or service meet the changing needs of the modern client?
Research of this nature might have prevented Blockbuster’s demise. Looking back now, it’s easy to see the mistake Blockbuster made, but it was less obvious at the time. Back in the 2000s, the founders of the fledgling company, Netflix, offered Blockbuster the option to buy them out.
At the time, Netflix ran a website that allowed clients to order DVDs online for a monthly subscription. Netflix posted the DVDs out, and clients returned them as they completed them. Blockbuster executives laughed at the idea, not realizing that the market was moving toward more convenient delivery systems.
Netflix’s business model at the time wasn’t a threat to Blockbuster. However, when streaming began to take off, Blockbuster’s refusal to develop a streaming model led to their decline. The rest is history, with Netflix now far larger than Blockbuster ever was.
Had Blockbuster conducted market research and adapted, the situation could be very different.
Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
Now that you understand what your clients and market expect, can you meet those expectations? What strengths does your company currently have in terms of meeting or exceeding these expectations? Where are you falling short?
Develop a Service Strategy
Now work on a service strategy to begin to meet the client’s changing needs and exceed their expectations. Can you better utilize your company’s strengths? How can you make up for the weaknesses?
Identify goals to meet and break them down into a simple step-by-step plan to improve service delivery.
Get Your Employees On Board with the Changes
You will need to explain the reasons for the change and request your employee’s feedback. You then need to equip them to enact the changes. This might be something as simple as adding an extra computer terminal or extensive training.
If you identify a glaring skills shortage in the company, it may be time to look outside of it. Outsourcing gives you access to a global talent pool of professionals across a number of fields.
Monitor the Results and Measure Performance
Setting up service delivery goals is the first step. Measuring your progress is the next step. You should also review that the changes are having the desired effect.
Use Technology to Enhance Service and Continuously Improve
Another lesson that we can learn from Netflix is that they looked for ways to continuously improve. Blockbuster executives felt that streaming was a fad. Netflix executives saw the potential of streaming as a convenient solution for time-strapped consumers.
The point is that they adjusted their business model to keep pace with the times. They never rested on their laurels.
Service improvement is an ongoing process of measuring client expectations and exceeding them. While market research is expensive, it can help you maintain your competitive edge and identify new opportunities. As Blockbuster executives learned the hard way, it’s challenging to remain at the top without careful reflection.