“Rule number one: The customer is always right. Rule number two: When the customer is wrong, refer to rule number one.” While the reasoning behind this classic customer service adage makes sense, in today’s business environment it’s no longer an effective mantra for maintaining happy customers.
Customers want their problems solved quickly and easily, but they may not know the best way to achieve this. Agreeing with their suggested solution because “the customer is always right” may not solve their problem, at which point both the support worker and the customer will become frustrated.
The new number one rule for customer service: Listen to the customer and truly care about their needs.
Every customer is unique. In order to solve a customer’s problems, you must listen and understand their individual needs. Once you understand what they need you can start developing a solution that will fit their specific requirements. Always keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
I own an ultrasound medical support company called Summit Imaging. We help clinical engineers, who are responsible for keeping all of a hospitals’ equipment up and running, maintain and repair their ultrasound equipment. Every time a clinical engineer contacts my technical support team we view it as a completely new challenge. After identifying their needs, we review the tools we currently have in place to see which ones can be leveraged, tweaked and applied to this new problem. If we don’t have the right tools, we figure out which tools are required to solve the problem and how we can obtain—or create—them as quickly as possible.
Throughout the process we make sure to communicate to the clinical engineer how we’re executing our solution. Keeping the lines of communication open gives clinical engineers the opportunity to speak up immediately if something we’re doing doesn’t meet their needs. Walking them through the process step-by-step also educates them so they might be able to perform the repair without our assistance in the future. By empowering our customers to solve their own problems we’re saving them time, money and making them a hero within their organization.
But understanding how to meet your customers’ needs is only half the battle – in order to provide the best possible service, you and your staff must truly care about the customers. As you build your customer service staff be sure to hire people who are empathetic to your customer’s needs. If your employees aren’t passionate about serving your customers they won’t go the extra mile to make sure customers’ needs are met. In order to ignite this passion, help them understand the bigger impact their work has on people’s lives. If they understand that their impact goes beyond a phone call or an email it could help them see the bigger picture.
At Summit Imaging, we help our customer service staff understand the direct impact their work has on people’s health. The parts that we repair affect the quality of someone’s ultrasound scan, a test that could offer a life-altering prognosis. Because our staff understands that, they’re more inclined to go above and beyond for our customers.
For example, a couple years ago we received a repair request from a clinical engineer at a hospital near Sacramento, CA. They needed a pediatric transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) probe repaired in time for a scan the following week to determine whether a child had a heart condition. We shipped the repaired probe back two days ahead of schedule, but the delivery service lost the package. It was an extremely rare probe and impossible to find in the market. Even the original equipment manufacturer didn’t have it in stock. Instead, we had the clinical engineer ship us a similar probe and we worked through the night to make the necessary repairs, shipping it back just in time for the scheduled scan. No one on my team complained about having to pull an all-nighter because everyone understood that the quality of a child’s healthcare was on the line.
That kind of empathy and understanding is what makes our team’s customer service so outstanding and why we have been able to achieve a 93 percent customer retention rate. And as we consider strategies to continue driving growth and customer satisfaction this year, we know the key to our success will be to remain faithful to the new number one rule: Listen to the customer and empathize with their needs.
LinkedIn Article here.