October 15, 2014
If you own a business, you know that your customers are its lifeblood, so customer service is key. While you may recognize this fact, it may not always resonate with your employees. So how do you ensure that all your hard work to win customers isn’t undermined by poor customer service when they come face-to-face with your employees—especially if you can’t always be there to supervise?
The following tips may also be useful in making your customer service consistent and truly exceptional:
Provide customer service resources. Give your employees clear instructions for creating and maintaining service superiority—a written customer service policy manual for example. If your employees are unclear how customers should be served, they need to have resources available to help them learn. You can also offer resources such as FAQs in your employee manual, a manager or supervisor who can be a customer service coach, and of course, reminders of your own vision, as the business owner, for how customers should be treated.
Develop and communicate benchmarks for superb customer service. Be certain that your employees know the specific behaviors that constitute exceptional service at your company. Don’t take it for granted that your team knows what good service is—or what you consider good service. Measurable benchmarks that indicate great service should also be identified and shared.
Share the good, and the not-so-good. Make your employees aware that because customer service is so important to your business, you monitor it closely and want to share with them how everyone can work to make sure customers have the best possible experience. Meet with your employees regularly to talk about improving service and to reward employees who practice great customer service. The sharing should also be a two-way endeavor, so solicit ideas from employees—after all, they are likely the ones who are dealing with customers most often.
Formalize the customer feedback process. While many businesses rely on anecdotal comments to judge whether they are doing a good job serving customers, it can be helpful to formalize the customer feedback process so you can track trends over time and quantify results against your goals. Obtaining regular feedback using surveys or other tools also helps to show your customers that you care and are listening to what they have to say. You may even get some great ideas to help improve your service or other areas of your business.
By defining and communicating what your company’s specific customer service standards and policies are, involving your employees in the process, and quantifying the results of your efforts, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that everyone on your team is consistently “wowing” your customers with exceptional service.
If you’re claiming deductions for business meals or auto expenses, expect the IRS to closely review them. In some cases, taxpayers have incomplete documentation or try to create records months (or years) later. In doing so, they fail to meet the strict substantiation requirements set forth under tax law. Tax auditors are adept at rooting out inconsistencies, omissions and errors in taxpayers’ records, as illustrated by one recent U.S. Tax Court case.
If you’ve ever yawned your way through a wordy, boring document, you might have wondered if your own writing was as hard to understand. Luckily, there’s a great tool to measure the readability of your writing, and it’s as close as your word processor. (Note: For this article, we use Microsoft Word as our example. Details will vary if you use another application.)
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