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The Customer’s Role in Customer Service

In this, the second of six articles, we see that the customer plays
a vital role in your businesses every day. Without the customer,
you would have no reason, in fact, no ability, to exist. When
you do business with a customer, you and they incur certain
contractual obligations.



In contemporary commercial law there is a great deal of noise
about product quality delivery, warranties and guarantees, pric-ing
and so on. There is a great deal of silence regarding customer
service.



With the exception of being sure they pay their bills, there is no
role you can require or demand customers to play in customer
service. Yet you can enlist them in the process. Let’s look at some
ways to accomplish this.


With the exception of being
sure they pay their bills, there
is no role you can require or
demand customers to play in
customer service. Yet you can
enlist them in the process



Establish a formal customer round-table or focus
group.
Give the group a clear mission and spell out the charter
and their level of authority in implementing change.


Encourage customer complaints. That is not to say to
encourage them to complain as a matter of course. It means you
will be receptive to hearing legitimate complaints and handling
them with alacrity. This is a key way to save an old customer
and to avoid having to find a new one.


Actively call or visit customers who no longer deal
with you.
Ask them why they’ve become inactive. Make it
clear that you are not pressuring them to return but rather seeking
to remedy any inherent problems in your company.


Randomly sample your customers by phone to ask
them what they like and dislike about your product
or services.
Don’t assume that because they buy from you
that they are fully satisfied with your company. Be sure to get a
broad response by contacting long-time and new, young and
old, local and distant, urban, suburban and rural customers.


Schedule customer visits, the announced purpose
of which is to learn how the customer uses your
product or services.
Advise them that your intent is to
organize to serve them at the highest and most effective level.


Get production, support and other inside people in
front of customers so that they can get direct feed-back.

This should enhance their performance and their level
of delivered customer service.



Remember that the customer is under no obligation to participate
or to give you the feedback you desire and need. They will
do so only if you show them what is in it for them if they do,
then all you have to do is deliver what you have promised.


About the Author

L. Douglas Mault is president of the Executive Advisory Institute,
Yakima, Wash.

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