A December 2021 Godaddy.com article that addresses “10 ways to create better predictability in customer service” notes, “Creating predictability in customer service is one of the most challenging things to do for small business owners. It’s one thing to do customer service yourself when you’re just starting your business. But as you scale and hire others to interface with customers, establishing a consistent experience is key to customer retention and business growth. What is one way service-based businesses can create better predictability for customers.”
While the ideas offer today’s take on achieving customer predictability, several of them identify decidedly old-school values and expectations—aided, of course, by technology where needed. Following are old-school pronouncements dressed up in current presentation that any small business can adopt with commitment and common-sense.
“Establish consistent touchpoints. Consistently keeping in touch with your customers through handwritten notes sets a predictable standard for the customer experience.” Wow, what a concept! Actual handwritten notes. Done appropriately, this provides personalization that’s been appreciated since commerce began. Just make sure the “personal handwritten notes” aren’t really a cursive font made to look like a one-off applied to the masses. Actually do the work to personalize them to each recipient.
“Prioritize client needs. One of the issues I’ve seen with service-based companies is that 90% of the effort is put into getting a deal closed — and once it does, the handoff to delivery teams is clunky at best…Predictability is all about mitigating surprises, doing what you said you were going to do, and committing to transparency…Fewer surprises = happier clients.” Well, duh! Again, this is Customer Service 101, and has been for eons. Unfortunately, in today’s mass-produced world, many businesses are more motivated toward new sales than retention.
An old joke says it well: A guy dies and has the choice to go to Heaven or Hell. He visits both, and chooses Hell because of the great parties. When he goes back down, Hell is the flaming, stench-filled place most of us imagine. Asking what happened, he’s told, “Yesterday, you were a prospect; today, you’re a client.” Key takeaway: Take care of clients better than prospects. This includes giving them deals better than those offered to prospects, because that engenders loyalty. When clients see sales offers much better than their current deal, it encourages going elsewhere.
“Follow through on customer expectations. High-quality service and top-notch marketing let customers know what to expect from a company, which is predictability.” Make performance match marketing promises. Otherwise, it looks like a bunch of promotional BS, which tends to outrage customers and make them want to find a competitor that will value their loyalty more.
“Provide reliable products and services. One way service-based businesses can create better predictability for customers is by understanding and matching customer expectations and providing service or product consistency in order to generate a pleasant customer experience and increase sales.” Well, duh again! Whatever a company promises customers, they need to deliver on it. Offering the moon and coming up way short will send customers toward the exits, and reviews/ratings will reflect that dissatisfaction—making it much harder to turn prospects into customers.
Earlier this century, Domino’s Pizza performed a huge turnaround, first by admitting they were coming up short, second by promising to improve quality and service. They honored the promise, and today’s Domino’s shows what happens when companies deliver on the promise.
“Build a collaborative schedule. Create schedules for deliverable deadlines that factor in timelines for approvals, revisions, reviews and publishing.” Daily newspapers have been doing this for centuries. The deliverable deadline is set, and everything works toward it. Small businesses following this example, albeit not necessarily on a daily deadline, can find many happy returns.
OK folks, it’s a clean slate. New Year. New ideas. New opportunities. Or perhaps it’s actually a return to old values, insights and practices that will do the most good. In customer service, bedrock practices based on historical wisdom always seem to work best. So, with the New Year, let’s look at some of those—and see how best they can apply in today’s hyper-tech, warp-speed information world.Mark Lusky aka The Happy Curmudgeon