Materials, components, labor and transportation costs have risen dramatically over the last few years. The result has been price increases for door and window products. Most door and window manufacturers held off for as long as they could for fear of losing prospective customers and market share. However, eventually price increases became necessary. So, with prospective customers seeing rising prices of door and window products, it is natural for market demand to soften. With fabricators and dealers vying for this shrinking market demand, an increase in competitive pressure is being felt. So, it is more important now than ever to set yourself apart from the competition.

One of the biggest factors that can set you apart is exceptional customer service. No matter how good your product might be, there will always be something that can go wrong, and as we all know, if it can go wrong, then it will go wrong. That’s where exceptional customer service comes into play.

There are three key elements that define exceptional customer service:
1. Accessibility;
2. Personability; and
3. Performance.

Accessibility

This one is simple. When a problem or question presents itself, how long does it take to reach a customer service representative (CSR)? Have you ever personally called a customer service number only to go through an array of options on the phone and to be led to a recorder that says leave a message and someone will get back to you? If so, then you know what a poor experience feels like for your customers. A better experience would be for your customer to call and be immediately connected to a live human being. But the best experience is for your customer to have access to their very own customer service representative.

Indeed, if you can assign groups of customers to individual CSRs and direct calls so that customers always deal with the same CSR, then you create a system which allows relationships to form between individual customers and their assigned CSRs. Each CSR gets to know each of their assigned customers and understands their individual needs, preferences and histories. This way, when the customer calls in, they do not have to repeat themselves explaining the same things over to different CSRs every time contact is made. Their assigned CSR knows them, understands what makes them tick, and therefore can formulate solutions which are tailored to their individual needs and preferences.

Personability

How pleasant or amiable is the person your customer is connected to? Does the CSR take the time to really listen to their issue? Does the CSR sound like a “real” human being, or do they appear to be going through the motions like they are reading a script? Have you ever called into a company, perhaps your cell phone provider, about an issue and, after a lengthy process of choosing the correct series of options, you finally reach a real human. But then, in talking to this human, you get the impression that you could almost be talking to a robot? They answer your questions with their own questions and reply to your statements with their own statements that really make you feel as though they are reading from a script!

This has happened to me more than once. The reason I know that they were indeed reading from a script is because I hung up and called back. I then went through the same series of prompts and was finally connected to another, but different, CSR. The answers and replies that I received this second time were “word for word” the same as the first time around. Where is the personality? This is why I am not yet convinced that artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to master the art of superior customer service, because AI lacks the human element of personality. Ask three humans the same question and you’ll get three different answers.

As annoying as that can be in certain situations, it certainly is part of what gives an individual his or her own unique personality. Now just having a personality is not enough, as it must be a pleasant personality. I would define a pleasant personality simply as “one that makes the other person happy that they talked to you and not just anyone.” You will know it when you experience it.

Now we get to the last element but certainly not the least important.

Performance

This boils down to one thing. As a company, you must give your CSRs quick access to or the actual authority to provide solutions. Whether it is a credit to address a quality issue, a shipping label to return a product that did not meet customer requirements, an overnight shipment for product that exceeded lead time, or whatever the situation, you must give your CSRs access to a decent level of authority to provide on-the-spot or same-day solutions. This is what defines performance. There is nothing worse than a customer calling, reaching a CSR, explaining their problem, and then being told, “I will have to check with my manager, but he is in a meeting, so I will have to call you back later.” Indeed, that word “later” is what defines subpar performance.

So, there you have it – three key elements that define exceptional customer service. Superior customer service is the one factor that can boost your company’s immunity to customer attrition that could result from recent price increases. The market for doors and windows has suddenly become much more competitive, and exceptional customer service is one thing that can certainly set you apart!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *