With Concierge Customer Service, you can give your best customers the edge they’re looking for and improve your profits in the process. Concierge Customer Service (CCS) achieves that goal by giving your most profitable customers a level of service that not only makes their lives and jobs easier but also improves their efficiency.
That’s why CCS proves to be such a win-win for your company: Because the CCS system provides your top customers with such profit-generating perks as
- fast and efficient problem resolution,
- priority call on inventory, and
- preferred pricing,
the benefits of the system flow to your customers’ bottom lines and yours. Your company can differentiate itself in the marketplace by making a new, compelling business case for working with you. You will create a marketplace bias toward your company, one that is rooted in rationality and reason rather than personality and emotion. Now that we understand the concept, we get down to the “nuts and bolts” of implementation.
We’ve previously discussed the beginnings of how to create your own Concierge Customer Service team, but we’ll dive a little bit deeper into the details here. Here are six basics towards creating a Concierge Customer Service system for your business:
1) Customer-Centric Innovation: Learning via Webinars
The first step in implementing Concierge Customer Service is to get everyone on your team involved with and committed to the program. This begins with communicating to your employees the results of both customer (external) and employee (internal) surveys. We recommend that you communicate the information via webinar: The advantage of that format is that you can record the presentation, making it easy for employees who cannot view the presentation live to access it later on. It also permits those who need to see it a second (or third) time to do so on-demand. We generally break the material into 3 separate webinars:
Webinar 1: Review with your employees your customer survey results.
Webinar 2: Review with your employees the internal survey results.
Webinar 3: Introduce your Concierge Customer Service program to your employees. Begin by outlining the intent and goals of the program. Then, provide particulars on how and by whom the program will be implemented.
2) The CCSR Job Description
Your next step will be to craft your Concierge Customer Service Representative (CCSR) job description. Here are some of the core elements that you may include, depending on how you structure sales and customer service responsibilities:
a. The CCSR serves as the first point of contact for all levels of customers who receive Concierge Customer Service.
b. The CCSR will provide information about the company’s products and services, handle customer relations, respond to quote requests, deal with customers’ issues and/or technical problems, deal with delivery problems, and process orders.
c. The CCSR will build personal relationships with customers and provide superior service at all times.
d. The CCSR will not just respond to customer complaints but work actively to build, maintain, and deepen customer relationships. The CCSR should strive to make each Concierge Customer Service customer feel as if he or she is the only customer in the world.
A CCSR should bring a minimum of 2 years of customer service and/or sales experience, preferably in the wholesale distribution industry. The ideal educational background lies in business, communications, psychology, or sociology. Because the CCSRs work with your largest, most valuable customers, business-to-business experience is highly desirable.
Because the CCSR will be the first line of contact between the customers and your company, the most important qualification of the CCSR will be his or her communication and, in particular, listening skills.
The CCSR must be able to adapt quickly and easily to changing situations and be a quick learner; he or she must have a growth mindset, as opposed to a fixed mindset. He or she must be able to make informed decisions quickly and feel empowered to serve the customer better. She or he should also possess good organizational skills. Other qualifications to look for are computer literacy, a friendly personality, and attention to detail.
The next step in creating a Concierge Customer Service system for your business is to begin recruiting. Filling CCSR position(s) by promoting from within can be a strategy that reduces training time and also boosts employee morale: Employees will recognize potential for growth in your company, which leads to increased commitment and motivation toward their jobs. If you plan to recruit a CCSR internally, begin by identifying high-potential employees. Place your “superstars” immediately at the top of the candidate list. Performance evaluations, customer feedback, measures of achieved sales, ranking systems (such as 9-box) or 360 evaluations can all help you identify exceptional internal candidates. Tools like these can streamline the screening process, expediting the development of a candidate pool.
If recruiting externally, ensure that you have a hiring system in place.
4) Identifying Candidates for Concierge Customer Service
Once you create the job description and structure for your human resources system, the next step in creating Concierge Customer Service for your business is to develop the criteria that will qualify customers for this level of service. As you implement the program, the best way to introduce the process (in a way that minimizes “hiccups”) is to begin with 25-30 of your best customers. Introduce the program to them in the ways that we outline below and elicit feedback about the program within 3 months. From that feedback, you identify any gaps or deficiencies in the program and also elicit testimonials and statistical data that document the program’s benefits: These testimonials can prove particularly beneficial for your salespeople, as they recruit competitors of your top customers by highlighting the benefits of Concierge Customer Service.
This is how you can “clone” your best customers and provide a business case to your salespeople for doing so. Then, you are free to expand the program.
5) Codifying the Structure of Your Concierge Customer Service System
The fifth step is to codify the structure of your CCS system. In most cases, we suggest dedicating at least 2 representatives to your Concierge Customer Service customers. Where resources don’t permit that structure, you can install a single CCSR who will be “backed up” by at least one Customer Service Representative (who has been trained thoroughly in the Concierge Customer Service system). The reason for this structure is to ensure that, when a CCS customer calls in, he or she will reach a representative quickly.
As they work with and solve problems for customers, CCSRs should record their interactions with customers, documenting clearly
- what problems the customer presented,
- who presented the problem (company, position, and name/contact information),
- the actions taken, and
- the outcome.
We recommend that you report to CCS customers monthly, or at least quarterly, on the actions taken; where possible, identify in these reports savings of time or money created for the customer.
This provides quantitative data that show you exactly when and where problems arise—and many distributors lack these data. Once you begin collecting these data, you can identify key opportunities for improvement; taking action in these areas allows you to reduce customer complaints, improve customer satisfaction, and decrease costs. Ideally, you should have a dashboard that not only displays customer feedback data but also provides a mechanism for CSRs and CCSRs to code customer complaints/problems. This allows CCSRs to keep their pulse on both customer sentiment and customer issues.
CCSRs should also monitor customer accounts and relationships closely so that they can act to mitigate problems before they arise. If, for example, a CCSR recognizes that a recently-ordered product is backordered, he or she should act to minimize negative effects of the situation (by, perhaps, sending a substitute product at no cost to the customer). Because of the importance of this and other functions, CCSRs should have access to your CRM and understand clearly how to use it to perform their roles.
6) Identifying Concierge Customer Service Benefits
Your next step in creating Concierge Customer Service for your business should be to identify the benefits that will be offered by your Concierge Customer Service system for your clients, clearly and specifically. For example: a special phone number that connects the CCS customer directly with his or her CCSR.
Here are some of the other things you might consider offering to Concierge Customer Service customers:
1. Priority call on inventory;
2. Expedited shipping when necessary;
3. Reporting on order status;
4. Expedited quotes;
5. Entertainment opportunities (such as tickets to sporting or cultural events), where allowed;
6. Greeting cards for birthdays and other occasions (CCSRs may need access to your CRM for this function);
7. Offering customers continuous improvement opportunities.
After you codify the benefits and the exact nature of your system, you should create a matrix that lists (a) each benefit that CCS customers receive, (b) who in your organization “owns” responsibility for ensuring that this benefit is delivered, and (c) each department/individual who is involved in delivery of that benefit. Where possible, build in redundancy to the system so that if a given individual can’t provide the benefit, someone else will. (In the majority of cases, the CCSR will bear responsibility for ensuring that each customer receives each benefit. However, in some cases, the organizations with whom we work task members of the executive team/C-suite with delivering certain benefits.)
Want to learn more?
There are six additional steps towards creating a full Concierge Customer Service system and they are contained in my book with Randy MacLean:
“YOU CAN’T SERVE THEM WELL
IF YOU DON’T KNOW THEM WELL: Capturing and Captivating Customers with Concierge Customer Service™”
You can get the first two chapters for FREE here.
If you’d like a full copy of the entire book, you can get it here.
Dr. Jeanne Hurlbert, President of Hurlbert Consulting is an expert in sociology and survey research. After spending more than 25 years in academia, she now uses her extensive behavioral science expertise to help companies like yours distinguish yourselves through customer service. What sets her approach to customer service apart is that she begins by helping companies meld research and marketing to find out:
(a) exactly what their customers want and
(b) exactly how well they’re succeeding in giving customers what they want.
You can schedule a consult with her by going to www.ConciergeCustomerService.com; you can call her at 888-590-9677; or send an email here. And, if you’d like to complete her complimentary assessment to see how well you’re doing in knowing and serving your customers well, just go to www.FixYourService.com.