Does your business offer good customer service?
How would you know?
It's not as ingenuous a question as it appears. Many businesses have no real idea if they provide good customer service or not. They assume that they do because they don't get a lot of complaints.
Now the number of complaints about customer service is a fine yardstick for bad customer service. Obviously, if you get a lot of customers complaining, your business is providing bad customer service. But complaints are a completely inadequate measure of good customer service.
There are a whole lot of people out there who aren't going to complain if they come into your store or buy something on your website and get treated poorly. They're just going to go away and not come back - and probably tell several other people what a bad customer service experience your business provided.
How to Measure Good Customer Service
To find out if your business is providing the kind of customer service you want it to provide, you need to get some outside views. Staff views of customer service are not reliable; staff members will view transactions with customers and/or clients from their personal points of view, colored by what's going on in their personal lives and previous customer service expectations (for information on how to hire employees with good customer service skills see Top 10 Soft Skills for Customer Service Jobs, and Retail and Customer Service Interview Questions and Answers).
So to properly measure the success of your customer service, you need to get the views of customers and potential customers. After all, they're the ones you're trying to impress enough to buy more of your products and/or services and to tell others what a great experience buying from you has been. But how can you find out what they thought of your customer service?
Investigating Your Customer Service
1) Hire some customer service investigators.
Mystery shoppers have been used since the 1940's; their job is to pose as normal customers and then report about their experiences. Hiring mystery shoppers can give you real insight into exactly what your customers experience when they shop at your store.
You can hire mystery shoppers through a market research company or by advertising for and hiring your own mystery shoppers. If you are hiring them yourself, make sure they are clear about exactly what they are going to be investigating and how they are going to report their findings before they visit your storefront or your website.
2) Ask customers directly.
a) Surveying your current customers and/or clients for their opinions is another tried and true method of finding out how your customer service measures up. One way to do this is by asking customers to complete a questionnaire about their most recent customer experience with your company.
You can encourage people to fill out your customer service survey by offering them a reward for doing so, such as a prize draw or a discount coupon to be applied to their next purchase.
Online versions of customer service surveys are an excellent way for companies doing business online to get feedback. If you have a bricks-and-mortar storefront, you will want to print off a stack of customer service surveys for use on the spot. Customer service surveys may also be sent out through email to your business's mailing list.
b) And don't forget that personal conversations with customers can also be revealing. When you're in your store or at a job site, engage the customer/client in a conversation about the level of customer service she experienced. All customer service research doesn't have to be formal; ad-hoc conversations can be useful sources of information, too.
Here is an example of a customer service survey that you can use to survey your customers.
Let Those Extra Eyes Be Your Customer Service Guide
Once you know what your company's customer service is truly like as your customers see it, you'll be equipped to improve it.
Complaints are a great starting point for improving bad customer service. But if you want to provide good customer service, you have to go beyond just listening to complaints and responding to them. Finding out what your customers and/or clients are truly thinking is the key to providing the kind of customer service that will bring them back.