10 commandments of service excellence

Our founder and CEO Brett Raynes is a big fan of Jim Collin’s book: Good to Great. But what distinguishes a good service from a great one? At Cloud Direct we measure customer advocacy using the Net Promoter Score. How do we achieve those world-class results? Here are our 10 commandments for excellent service.

1. You shall keep communication channels open

Your customers (or clients, or colleagues) must be able to contact you when they need you. Whether it’s because they require a service or have a simple question, you should make sure communication channels are open to them. And let’s face it, there are many communication outlets to choose from.

At the very basic level there’s phone and email – and even web forms. But it may also be appropriate for you to run a customer portal. Most businesses have social media accounts, and you need to monitor this and respond immediately and effectively.

This last point can work a treat if done well. According to Bain, the research and analytics company, a customer who experiences social media engagement in response to a query spend 20 to 40 per cent more money.

But be careful not to spread yourself too thinly. The more contact points you have the more there is to manage.

2. You shall respond in a timely manner – always

Whatever your company policy is for getting back to customer phone calls or emails, make sure you stick to it. At Cloud Direct we designate different response times for different levels of urgency and for the specific services our customer has subscribed to. These have very strict service level agreements (SLAs), which we guarantee.

3. You shall listen to your customer

Customers are ordinary people just like you and me. And they want to be heard. Sometimes all you need do is listen to what they have to say. Avoid jumping in on the defensive – just listen. They may well have a valid point that your business can learn from.

Who knows, if handled well, the conversation could generate more business for you.

4. You shall treat your customer with respect

When dealing with a complaining, demanding, irate or just plain rude customer, be mindful not to lower yourself to their level of behaviour. Avoid expressing anger, impatience or using subjective, emotional language. Maintain your standards and continue treating your customer respectfully and, in turn, they will respect you. They might just be having a bad day and may well regret their bad attitude.

While it’s always unpleasant and certainly not right when people are disrespectful, at the end of the day when you’re mulling it over you can feel satisfied that you behaved well and remained respectful to your customer.

5. You shall not argue with your customer

Be aware that if you do enter into an argument with your customer, it’s a lose-lose situation. Even if you ‘win’, you’ll have alienated them and will likely lose their business irrevocably.

A customer is often wrong, but don’t be tempted to start defending yourself. Think positively by focusing on what’s occurred and how best you can help resolve the situation.

6. You shall honour your commitments

Don’t break your promises. If you offer a guarantee to back up your service level agreement (SLA) then you must honour it. If you say you’ll respond within a certain time-frame then do it. If you say you’ll provide a report on a particular day then do it. People hate to be disappointed in this way so it’s an easy route to ruining what could’ve been a good, long working relationship.

7. You shall do what you say

Similar to the sixth commandment, be aware of doing what you say you will on a day-to-day level. If you say you’ll call them first thing in the morning, then call them first thing in the morning. Trust is such an important factor in service relations, yet it’s so easy to lose if you end up frustrating and irritating your customer who’s waiting for a call that never happens.

8. You shall nurture your customer relations – not sell to them

Too often sales and marketing teams err down the path of sales and ‘lead generation’ without first looking to their customers to make sure they’re happy with their existing service and they’re getting the most out of it. This is where your customer success team is key. It’s their job first and foremost to make sure the customer understands what they have bought to the extent that they’re leveraging this service to the fullest across the business. If that box is ticked, they should be only too happy to trust you enough to buy more services from you if appropriate – or at least keep their business with you.

9. You shall apologise if you make a mistake

In the words of Alexander Pope: “To err is human, to forgive is divine”. We all make mistakes, and if you do make a mistake, don’t try denying it or covering it up. That’s a sure-fire way of losing all credibility as your customer will (quite rightly) doubt your professional integrity – which is much worse than making a mistake. Mistakes can be rectified. To rebuild trust is an entirely different matter.

So admit your mistake, apologise and fix it. Again, this can be an opportunity to strengthen a relationship. How people deal with mistakes is a real test of moral fibre, so you could end up bringing your relationship to a whole new level, opening more doors for your business.

10. You shall train and empower your staff

This is the linchpin to successful customer service. When your staff are well-trained they will understand their role in the business, their levels of authority and feel empowered to make well-informed, useful decisions. For example, our staff are constantly trained so they can develop to their fullest potential. Not only does this help you keep good people, but it also helps if you want an Investors in People (IIP) accreditation, for example. Our training programmes are one way we annually maintain our IIP gold status and were finalists in their first-ever IIP Awards in the Employer of the Year category.

So there you have our top 10 behaviours of a great customer service business. If you found that useful, you might like this: The top 10 reasons why our customers stay with us.

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