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Key principles for good customer service

In all areas, performance is determined based on a few principles. Let’s say you want to be able to swim faster or better. One way to do this would be to go to the swimming pool every day. Will you improve? For sure. But only until you have reached a certain level.

The same applies to customer service. You could, for example, explore specific techniques or first learn the principles that generally determine the quality of customer service.

Here are some of the principles for good customer service.

Accuracy

Regardless of the service speed, the answer should of course also be correct. Johnston’s study shows that customers see accuracy as a basic requirement. While it won’t increase customer satisfaction, inaccurate information will undoubtedly lead to dissatisfaction.

A metric to measure the accuracy of that observation is gone awry situations (Things Gone Wrong). Based on the 6-sigma approach, it records the ratio of “failures” – mostly complaints – per 100 or 1,000 surveys.

The principle of accuracy becomes interesting when we look at the factors that affect it:

Training. Even more than speed, service training is critical to increasing accuracy. While speed is about improving skills, training is about acquiring knowledge.

Information systems. The provision, exchange, and access to information are decisive factors for the quality of service. For example, if your communication channels are not networked well enough, your customer will have to repeat themselves at every contact point. Or worse, he could get conflicting messages. So customer service information is also really important.

Thanks to the seamless integration of your database, CRM, and help desk systems, your service employees have the relevant information at all times.

Speed

The speed or response time is shown in almost all studies as one of the most important criteria for good service quality. According to a Warwick University study, the response time has the greatest impact on both customer satisfaction (quick response) and dissatisfaction (slow response).

There are several ways to measure the speed of your service, such as:

  • Response time. How quickly the customer receives an answer to his question. This does not mean that the problem has been solved. It is about the first sign of life – it shows the customer that his request has been heard.
  • Average response time. The average total processing time for a message. If your customer’s request was resolved with 4 answers and the respective response times were 10, 20, 5 and 7 minutes, the average response time is 10.5 minutes ((10 + 20 + 5 + 7) / 4).
  • Solution time. The average processing time to clarify the request.
  • Problem solving on first contact. The number of requests that were resolved with a single answer divided by the number of requests that required multiple answers. According to a Forrester study, direct resolution of a concern is an important satisfaction factor for 73% of customers.

Personal responsibility of the employees. The extent to which employees can make decisions and change specifications at the forefront. What distinguishes customer service is the variety of inquiries from customers. This means that there will always be unexpected situations.

An employee without authorization must pass the problem on to his manager. But an independent employee makes the decision himself – which massively reduces costs. Chris DeRose and Noel Tichy share some useful tips on how to empower your service representatives.