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 (Oral Bac 2014 G1-G2)

Providing an excellent consumer experience is essential to building and maintaining a prospering business. Poor consumer service is among the top reasons why customers desert businesses, never to return, according to a study by the Small Business Administration.

"The customer buying decision is as emotional as it is rational", says Chris Bryant, founder of a customer service and personal branding consulting firm. "And we'll drive further and pay more to get what makes us feel good".

Bryant advises his clients to first develop a clearly defined set of major values. He also recommends hiring employees who are naturally good with people and then regularly rewarding them.
Bryant says the key is learning to anticipate a client's needs before they even know they have them, something he calls the "wow factor".

Basically, excellent customer service is really about meeting consumer's needs with a quality product and exceeding their service expectations in a memorable way. Bryant believes this is no longer an option but rather imperative for a business to survive. "Today more than ever, consumers are more informed and sophisticated", he says. "And they have far too many choices to tolerate mediocrity in their service experience.

Delivering excellent customer service implies:

• having a clearly defined customer service philosophy;
• employees knowing the service philosophy from memory; -
• having a formal process to recognize and reward service excellence;
• empowering employees to make decisions on customer issues and concerns;
• conducting customer service training at least annually;
• hiring new employees based on demonstrated service-related aptitude;
• having a clear orientation designed around company's central values and your
• service philosophy;
• capturing, tracking and responding to consumer complaints daily;
• knowing the monetary value of one loyal customer to your business;
• measuring customer satisfaction and sharing results with the employees.

Adapted from Black Enterprise, January 2008

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