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Customer First Customer Service

The world of customer service is rapidly changing. Thirty years ago, telephones and mail services were the norm for most companies. Now, faxes, email and web sites offer more options to customers than they've ever had before. It takes a dedicated team to keep loyal customers coming back and new clients coming in.

Customer Service is about that ultimate contact between people. It's about a potential or existing customer/client walking away with the intent of buying your product either for the first time or again. Employees make countless decisions every day that directly or indirectly affect customers and strengthen or weaken your company's reputation and bottom line.

Forging lasting relationships with customers leads to long-term loyalty and referrals. The bottom line is that excellent customer service may be the most important factor in improving a company's bottom line.

Customer Service is about offering solutions that are best for each customer. As a company, you need to offer every option available---addressing everything that's important to each customer. Focus on each customer as if he were the only customer.

Everyone at your company can work together to turn customer responses into key performance indicators by:

? Giving the customer confidence. When they speak out about a concern, you address it within a reasonable amount of time (call back before the end of the day or tomorrow with their answer).

? Giving the customer specifics. Tell them exactly what you are doing or going to do and when (I'm going to research the invoice and will call you back within an hour).

? Fulfill your promise. Fulfill it within the period given at your initial customer contact.

? Be reliable. Deliver what the customer ordered, when they want it (ask the customer to be sure!) and make sure it's delivered at the price agreed to.

Every employee plays an important role in fulfilling each customer's needs:

1. Buyers/Purchasing Agents --- maintain and replenish the inventory at the best prices possible, making sure you have in stock what all your customers want/need.

2. Distribution Center/Warehouse Personnel --- receive the product, verify quantity and condition and put the product away in the right location so the pickers/pullers/stockers can easily and accurately find the product and package/load the product for delivery? in some cases placing the right stops in the right order on a delivery truck.

3. Drivers/Delivery Personnel --- delivers the product, with little to no damage, finds the correct items for each customer easily and efficiently. They also resolve any customer issues at the time of delivery (calling the center/home office/plant to resolve any billing issues or product issues, or replace damaged items at no additional cost to the customer).

4. Sales Support/Customer Service --- takes the customer orders, ensure the prices are correct and deliveries are scheduled for the correct days and times.

5. Sales Consultant/Team/Person --- works one-on-one with the customer, taking their orders, making sure they are offered new items, resolving issues and adding new customer accounts.

6. Management Team/Owner(s) ---- provide any and all support to their employees to ensure the customers needs are met as promised. They provide a working environment that stimulates employees to be proactive, productive and pro-company?these all lead to happy customers both internal and external.

What will make your company stand out? over and above?other companies? How responsible, responsive and timely are you meeting your customers needs? The customer doesn't want to know what it took to get his product there and he doesn't want to hear excuses why his product and/or delivery were delayed. He ordered and expects delivery as promised, so he can go about his business without enduring any inconvenience whatsoever.

The customer understands the importance of measuring their own performance, so they are going to require that the people servicing them---YOU---understand their needs at a much higher level.

Partner with your customers, to provide not only products but also knowledge, expertise, follow-up and execution.

For these and other reasons, all company employees---including management and owners---must have good manners?publicly, on the phone or through email, letters or notes. You must also be accurate and neat and willing to 'go the extra mile'. It's important that the customer 'feels good'. Sometimes a simple gesture?being friendly or simply smiling both in person and over the phone does the trick.

Friendliness costs nothing and requires little effort but is worth millions when it comes to building long-term lasting relationships with customers that lead to ongoing loyalty and endless referrals. Friendliness is, by far, the most important factor in improving a company's bottom line. Besides---it's contagious!

What it boils down to is this: What a customer likes the most about any company/distributor isn't their computers?it's their employees!

Not only do the employees represent the company, when they contact prospective and current customers/clients, they are the company. How each employee performs reflects directly on what people think of your company overall.

In summary, satisfy your customer and you satisfy your bottom line.

F. McDuffee has been specially trained by one of the masters of copy--- Michael Masterson ---through The American Writers & Artists Institute. As The Words Turn? will provide creative copy that will entice new and rebuild established relationships---leading to repeat business.

Hire an experienced writer... one who will eliminate the wastebasket potential of your marketing materials. Visit As The Words Turn? for more information on services available.

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