There’s a lot of buzz these days about exceptional client service, but what does that really mean? And how does a company back up its claims?
Since 1986, we at PrimePay have held ourselves to the highest standards when it comes to serving clients. But we’re not just all talk. We’re on a journey to master the art of client service, analyzing organizations and leaders along the way who we think are getting it right and have built the kind of programs we admire. Observation coupled with real-world experience has taught us a lot.
Today, we can tell you what we’ve been working on to make good on our client service and support claims. Here are the top 10 best practices we’re putting to use that are the foundation of exceptional client service.
1. Build a culture of empowerment
Employees who have the power to voice ideas, make decisions, work across teams, and solve problems are what a culture of empowerment is all about. Each employee is seen and treated as a unique person, capable of creative problem-solving, and rewarded for having a take-charge attitude.
We empower our employees to address challenges on their own. They know their ideas will be heard, considered, and supported by leaders in our organization. And they know they can step beyond their immediate role and responsibilities to help others. In our organization, empowered employees don’t fear challenges — they embrace them.
2. Foster a positive relationship with change
“Change is a constant” may be one of the most ubiquitous maxims out there, but there’s still enormous truth in it. In business, change happens with and without warning, and it can either be responded to with grace and fortitude, or turmoil and fear.
One of the best ways we deal with change is by giving employees and clients alike the appropriate tools to navigate it successfully. For our employees, that means regular communication through quarterly town halls and regular manager meetings to keep everyone informed, as well as ongoing training. For our clients, it’s recognizing the role change plays in their own organizations, so we can develop the best human resources (HR) software tools and provide the best expert guidance we can to help them respond to change effectively.
3. Provide a continuous feedback loop for employees
When employees receive regular feedback about their performance and a plan of action for improvement, there’s a lot less confusion about what’s expected of them. Better yet, they can see a direct line between their actions and decisions at work, and how these benefit — or don’t benefit — clients.
Our employees get continuous feedback about their strengths and areas for improvement through regular one-on-one meetings. Strengths and successes get built upon so that we can expand on our business goals. With continuous feedback, communication is much clearer between managers and employees, and employees know what actions they can take to perform at a higher level — all of which translate to a more positive experience for our clients.
4. Align the hiring and training process with client service objectives
Lots of businesses are looking for ways to improve client service and the client experience, but it’s about more than adopting a bunch of new tools. It really begins from the ground up by hiring employees who have the right skills or the right potential and developing new skills that help the organization achieve its objectives faster.
We walk the walk by recruiting, hiring, and training employees who understand just how seriously our organization takes client service and show a commitment to do the same. That means they’re eager to absorb our values around client service and lead with them — whether it’s during a client interaction or some other company initiative that benefits our clients.
5. Open up a feedback loop with clients
Clients use products and services and engage with customer success and support teams every day — which means they know better than anyone what’s working and what isn’t. That’s why client feedback is so important, in that it helps organizations better understand and solve their clients’ pain points and be able to anticipate and meet their evolving needs.
We want to utilize as many methods of receiving client feedback as we can. Something we’ve found particularly useful is to send regular surveys to our customers to gauge their satisfaction levels, get recommendations and requests, learn about what we can improve, and communicate with them appropriately no matter where they are in the buyer’s journey.
6. Measure progress and success through customer service KPIs
Key performance indicators — or KPIs — tell an organization how well they’re performing in any one area. Customer service KPIs are especially helpful because they point the way to specific changes that can be made to increase customer retention and improve customer service efficiency, which benefit the entire business operation.
In our organization, we routinely measure customer service KPIs like Net Promoter Scores (NPS), customer service response times, customer retention rates, and more. These help us know where we’re meeting and even exceeding customer expectations, and where we’re under-delivering so we can make necessary improvements.
7. Be transparent
The idea of transparency can be squeamish to business leaders who prefer to keep the inner workings of the organization behind closed doors. But in actuality, it can be very rewarding to be transparent with clients, especially about the organization’s workforce, values, and methodologies. It helps them know what to expect from the organization and keeps the organization accountable.
One of the ways we’re transparent is by letting clients know what we require from our employees. We’re upfront about what goes into specific job descriptions, how we choose the right job candidates to align with the values of our client service model, and how new employees are trained and encouraged in developing a client-centric mindset. In our journey to become a leader in service, transparency is what helps us provide the best in client service and technology.
8. Involve the whole company in client service
It’s not just front-line, client-facing employees who are responsible for a great client experience — it’s the whole company. Even departments that don’t interact directly with clients can have an impact on the client experience by the quality and efficiency with which they perform their work, which has a ripple effect throughout the organization.
In our organization, we require that everyone undergo client satisfaction training, regardless of role or team. When every employee understands what we’re trying to do for our clients — and why — we can all row in the same direction and align our efforts in achieving our client service objectives.
9. Deliver memorable, smile-worthy experiences
The experience clients have — from initial sale to post-sale support and every step in between — makes a lasting impression. When a client has a positive experience, they want to keep doing business with the organization. When they don’t, they leave. It’s that simple.
Our commitment to delivering memorable, smile-worthy experiences is at the heart of everything we do. If we’re not quite reaching our goal, we take the actions we need to get there. When we do achieve our goal, we recognize the hard work that went into it — and we know that we couldn’t do it without the efforts of our awesome employees and the feedback of our valued clients — who happen to make us smile too.
10. Recognize the journey to client success.
Client service will continue to evolve — just like everything else in business. And though we’ve learned a lot, we don’t pretend to know everything. But as long as we have clients, our goal is to serve them in the best ways we can.
We're devoted to the journey, which means we'll keep researching and observing organizations and leaders who we believe are doing things right, and we'll never stop short of exceeding our clients' expectations.
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