Extraordinary customer service will get you there
Utilities that want more customers, more sales and higher profits can make those goals reality with one thing – extraordinary service.
“Enhancing your relationship with your customers and the level of service they receive from your utility will go a long way toward boosting the company’s bottom line,” says David Saxby, president of Phoenix-based Measure-X, a company that specializes in helping utilities improve their customer service and sales. “Great service never goes out of style, at least from the customer’s point of view. Many utilities sell more than just electricity and the smart ones make service an integral part of their culture.”
Saxby offers the following tips on how to create outstanding customer service.
Make Lasting First Impressions. From the moment potential customers walk through the door or call on the phone, they’re deciding whether they will do business with your utility, Saxby says.
“Greet the customer with enthusiasm and a smile,” Saxby recommends. “Welcome them into your business as you would a friend into your home. Reinforce the importance of a warm and friendly greeting with all your employees.”
Ask the Customer. Saxby suggests that utilities survey their customers by mail or phone and ask them to list three reasons for why they like doing business with the company and three reasons for why they don’t.
“Ask them for suggestions on what you can do to improve the service you provide,” Saxby says. “Ask them what other products or services they would like you to offer. It will send a clear message to your customers that you value their feedback and their business.”
Mystery Shop Your Company. “Hire a company to secretly shop your utility,” Saxby says. “They can provide you with feedback from a customer’s perspective on what it was like doing business with you. Use this information to evaluate the question, ‘Are we creating a memorable experience for our customers?'”
Saxby urges utilities in competitive markets to mystery shop their competitors for a service and price comparison. Mystery shopping can provide invaluable information for attracting and retaining new customers, he says.
Make Employees Owners in the Company. “People work harder and care more about customers when they feel like they have ownership in the business,” Saxby points out. “Create an incentive plan that lets them share in profits. Reward and recognize their commitment to customer satisfaction and do it often.”
Measure What’s Relevant. Utilities should not simply tell employees to do their best. “You and they have to know how they’re doing and where they can improve,” Saxby says.
Show Appreciation. “When was the last time you received a thank-you note or a heartfelt thanks for spending your hard-earned money with a business?” Saxby asks. “Send thank-you notes and incentive gifts to your customers to let them know how much you value their business.”
Keep in Touch With Customers. How often do you hear from the insurance agent that handles all your insurance needs or the real estate agent that sold you a house or the countless other businesses that have provided you with a product or service?
“Do you remember their names and refer them to other people you know?” Saxby asks. “You do if they keep in contact with you. Call at least 10 customers a week just to keep in touch with them. Send out a monthly or quarterly newsletter. Let them know about other products and services you offer.”
The Customer Is Everybody’s Job. “Whether it’s customer service representatives, outside field staff or people in accounting, everyone should treat customers as if they are gold – because they are,” Saxby says. “Empower your employees to handle customers proactively, to look for the win in every interaction.”
David Saxby is president of Measure-X, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based measurement, training and recognition company that specializes in customer service and sales skills training for utilities. He can be reached at 888-644-5499 or via e-mail at email@example.com. Visit the Measure-X Web site at www.measure-x.com.