Keeping Customer Service at the Forefront of Business Operations

In times like these, businesses have a lot to keep track of! From sales and daily operations to finding innovative ways of generating revenue. What’s not up for grabs, in terms of high priorities, is the care and maintenance of customer service.

Here at Baillie Lumber, quality customer service has always been one of the key metrics by which we measure our success. Without satisfied customers, whether current or prospective, no business can hope for much with respect to long-term success. We make sure that our entire team is well informed and up to date on what our customers in the hardwood lumber industry want and need, and we always strive to stay focused on this aspect of our business operations. customerserviceforefront

With this in mind, have you been thinking of ways in which you could improve the level of customer service you offer customers? Here are tips we have found helpful to keep in mind as you work towards this goal: 

Offer multiple channels of support. Customers nowadays prefer a variety of options for obtaining the service they want. Businesses can encourage customer feedback—and ensure that grievances or inquiries are quickly addressed—by offering assistance through their website, mobile devices, over the phone with a customer service agent, social media, and so on. Customers who get a quick reply to questions or perceived grievances are much more likely to stick with a provider who shows they care.  

Always find new ways to provide service. As technology keeps changing, so should businesses! Work to find new ways to offer high-quality customer service. As TowneBank notes, “Look for opportunities to innovate in ways that are likely to remain popular and relevant after things begin to return to normal.”  

Anticipate concerns and issues. Most companies have an in-depth understanding of customers’ needs and pain points. Right now is the time to anticipate where customers might have difficulties you can help them resolve—now or in the immediate future—and they will appreciate your proactive approach.  

For us, this could be, be communicating potential shortages or price increases of a hardwood species like Red Oak or Ash in the coming months. Or even notifying a customer of possible shipping delays due to the pandemic. By reaching out wherever possible and offering solutions you can you can work towards positive outcomes. 

Employ the right tone. In your customer communications, always work to present your business in a positive and helpful light. “Your customers need to hear that you have a handle on the situation and that your business is available to help them,” says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. At the same time, the Chamber warns, refrain from speculating about the future “and don’t set unrealistic expectations that your business won’t be able to meet.”   

Try to be understanding about order changes. Sadly, some businesses simply won’t be able to continue operations until the worst of the crisis passes. In those cases, they may wish to make some changes to their orders. As much as possible, try to be understanding of what they may be up against, so there’s a feeling of goodwill afterward—which might translate into an eager return to your business at a later date. 

Businesses that may have been experiencing some degree of customer dissatisfaction may try to up the ante on new customer acquisition efforts. While gaining new customers certainly isn’t a bad thing, don't focus solely on that at the expense of your loyal customers. Satisfying the customers you have before attempting to bring new ones into the fold is extremely important to ensuring long term success. 

These are certainly challenging times. This means everyone from the hardwood forester speaking to a landowner about some Red Oak, White Oak or Cherry on their land, to the Lumber Traders, all the way through to the office receptionist, must be committed to customer service. They all share a role in helping our customers realize the greatest value they can when using our products and services.  

As Strategy+business notes, “Memorable [customer] experiences, positive or negative, are born of intensity.” If your organization meets customer needs by going the extra mile now, the positive effects of your efforts will continue long after life returns to something like normal.

Have any tips on improving customer service and retention that have worked for you? Let us know. We would love to hear them!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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