Times are hard and times are difficult. This economy has affected businesses and organizations both small and large. Layoffs, cutbacks, and smaller profit margins are common during these tough times. Not even to mention gas prices and grocery prices all thrown into the mix. Everyone’s moving and shifting and resetting his or her priorities. And as a professional, you have to reset your career priorities as well! No one seems to know just when the next curve ball is going to be thrown at him or her. Yet, I’m here to tell you how managers and professionals in every field can continue to strive and raise the perceived value of their services by following a few basic service strategies. These practices will help you focus and prioritize services and allow you to continually raise your value and your department’s value (which will get you noticed, and even promoted). Most importantly, through consistent use of these strategies, you can always keep yourself and your department/organization strong and profitable. Here’s what you need to do:
- YOU are THE PRODUCT. First realize and understand that you and the services you provide are THE PRODUCT(s). As a product/service, you must understand: a) What you do well, and b) What your customer/client(s) want or expect from you. As a product, you must be sure that you:
- Have identified WHAT you do best, and HOW you’ll meet the needs of your clients. How good are you at what you do?
- Have the resources, or alternative means, to meet the needs if your talent(s) are not enough.
This means either you are great at what you do (remember the competition will be there), or you have other resources at your disposal that will help you be great to those you serve.
- Examine Your Relationships. In short WHOM do you serve? Always start here. Who wants or needs your products/services? What’s important to them (timeliness, precision, quality)? Meet with your customers and determine what their needs are. Then create a strategy for exceeding those expectations. (You may want to start with your supervisor to identify his or her priorities). Then go and speak to those customers who utilize your products/services. Begin with their Top 3 Priorities for your product/service. This is also a time to Market what you do. Think of educating your clients regarding how you’ll address their concerns, as your marketing strategy. Also address special issues and contingencies that could impact your ability to provide the product/service. This is also a great time to let them know what you can, or will, do for them that’s different or better than what they’ve had before. Don’t forget that the majority of your marketing efforts will be directed at your own team. Be clear about your mission, quality standards, roles, and performance expectations of the team. This will keep everyone on board and realizing his or her importance in the process.
- Keep Getting Sharper. Lastly, continue to strengthen customer service by monitoring your effectiveness in supplying the products or services. Now that you know What your clients want, you should focus your efforts on creating systems that will allow you to meet those needs. Determine how well you are doing with your customers; then make any needed adjustments or modifications with the personnel (talent) or the processes involved. Create a feedback/evaluation system that allows you to have a continuous line of communication with your clients. Create "ratings" that allows you to monitor successes and failures within your system. Correct or eliminate deficiencies within your system, and train yourself and staff members to master techniques that may be more efficient or effective in serving the customer. Communicate any modifications to your clients (remember, you’re doing all of this for them). Keep challenging yourself and your staff to keep getting sharper. This allows you to get ahead and stay ahead of any competitor. Most importantly, it keeps your customers satisfied and happy.
These three steps are powerful for enhancing your service processes and strengthening your commitment to customer satisfaction. This can make a tremendous difference for you and your organization. Understand the basic premise of this approach:
- We are ALL Products: Every service must have a buyer — your customers!
- Our product/service must meet the client’s needs and desires.
- Focusing on ways we can get better and serve better will keep clients coming back to us again and again. This is the foundation of all business success, especially during tough times!
Stay at it, be persistent, you will not be disappointed. Overcoming adversity brings out the best in any individual and brings out the best in any team. You will create a bond that will not be broken. You can look back on getting through times such as these, say "I (we) did it!" with a sense of accomplishment like no other. It can and will be done if you follow these steps I have laid out for you.
All the best!
Contact Eric Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org