The above meme perfectly captures what's important for us here at Communication Xcellence. Although we are confident in the high-quality services offered, we actually place more value on the mechanism through which those same services are delivered: customer service.
On the About Us page on our site, we lay out the components of our customer-service focus: empathy, process orientation, integrity, and relationships. Although we talk about them some on the site, let's explore them more in this blog so you can get an understanding of the customer-service expectations that every one of us here is subject to. We want you to know how valuable we feel our prospects and customers are.
We won't throw at you the dictionary's definition of empathy. For us, empathy is simply understanding the emotional place in which people operate and aligning ourselves with it because we have operated in the same place as well.
This plays out heavily when in the negotiation phase of earning a customer's loyalty. For example, when we have an initial discussion with a recent college graduate who is young and new to the employment arena, we approach our discussion in a way that meets the communication and emotional need for that customer. A recent graduate with minimal or even no experience is probably concerned and overwhelmed. He may ask the following questions:
What industry do I apply to?
What should I expect as a salary?
How do I present my skills positively without sounding pompous?
Where do I even look for jobs?
All of us here have been in that place and have asked the same questions, since we all had to enter the workforce at one point. We connect our feelings with those of the prospective client--not to make the sale, but to assure her that should she partner with us on the project, she'd be working with people who successfully overcame those same emotional fears. Of course, it bodes well concerning the conversion from prospect to customer, but again, it's not our focus.
A process is nothing more than an effective, repeatable way of doing something. We focus on process efficacy because we know it creates a consistent experience for our customers. Customers deserve consistency as much as a company can offer it. (A number of factors can cause some inconsistency, however, but this is to be expected in all businesses.)
So what does this look like for us internally? Well, when a customer purchases one-to-one tutoring with one of our Spanish-language specialists, we have a new-customer process, which entails a series of repeatable steps in capturing necessary customer data, providing necessary account information, and setting expectations on on the next steps. All our new customers get this same experience. We have a customer tracking system that helps us keep track of any type of interaction with the customer or her account. Again, consistency.
And for existing customers taking advantage of our Spanish-tutoring services, we have a process for them. Assuming the customer has a while to go on being proficient, before each session, we send an agenda (that the customer would have agreed to before the session). After the session, we send an encapsulation of what was discussed as well as commitments we made and those that were made by the customer. We also share where we are in the action plan that we would have partnered with the customer to set up at the onset of our relationship. We also send customer-service satisfaction surveys occasionally to our customers to ensure that our processes are truly making it easy for our clients to work with us.
This orientation also makes it easy for us to do business with our customers. It streamlines internal responsibilities for providing service to clients. It reduces rework and waste, and it makes training much easier: Everyone is taught the same thing in a certain order, with some room for adjustments based on the employee's learning needs. This efficiency translates to reasonable service costs for our customers or for the ability of them to speak with any of our employees and get the same answer.
This is a no-brainer. Being honest with our customers is at the forefront of every interaction. If we can't meet a customer's need, we tell them that professionally. If we feel that a customer has outdated views on what should go on a resume, we have an honest discussion. When an employee updates our system with discussion details he's had with a customer, the entered information properly reflects that actual discussion--no concoctions needed.
The quickest way to tarnish our brand is to operate dishonestly.
We cannot have a business without having relationships with our customers. This customer-service tenet undergirds all the others we have discussed. We want to have meaningful discussions with prospects and existing clients. We can only do that by truly understanding and listening to what they tell us.
Relationships work because of a mutual appreciation of what the other party needs. We strive to understand as much about our customers as necessary in order to provide them with five-star service. If, during our interactions, a customer tells us that he's getting married, we congratulate him enthusiastically. If one of our tutoring clients tells us that he didn't do as well on a test as he felt he should have (due to lack of studying, for example), we commiserate with him. If a customer happens to be the typically fast-paced New Yorker, we won't spend a bunch of time on the phone, on Skype, or via e-mail with information that she doesn't really need to know. We deliver directly and respectfully of her time. Customers remember this--as they should.
There are other aspects of our customer-service philosophy that we have not shared here, but we have talked about the pillars. Our goal isn't to sell as much of our service as possible--although we hope that to be the case; it's to make sure that our customers are treated well from the time that they allow us to partner with them to when we're no longer needed. The customer is who matters, and we'll commit to keeping that mindset for the duration of our existence.