Creating a formal customer relations policy can benefit any company, from the largest corporations down to the one man micro-business. In order for a business to provide customer service satisfaction, each and every employee must be educated about customer complaint handling and customer retention strategy. The only thing worse than bad customer service is inconsistent customer service. A customer relations policy will help keep all staff members on the same page. Even in the smallest businesses, a well-written policy can help remind entrepreneurs of the value of a customer if he begins to feel frustrated or discouraged in his day to day interactions.
Writing Style for the Customer Relations Policy
The goal for this document is to inform, not impress. Although the policy needs to be taken seriously, the writer should favor clarity over fancy wordings. An effective rule of thumb is to aim for a sixth grade reading level. Remember that clients and customers never need to see this policy; it is intended for staff members only. Minimize confusion or misinterpretations by using plain, direct language.
Developing a Customer Retention Strategy
Repeat customers ensure a business’s stability. No customer relations policy could be complete without a customer retention plan. No two retention strategies are alike. Each company offers different incentives to keep their customers loyal. Policy writers should review the mission statement and purpose of a company to help create this document. A customer retention plan should answer two questions: What are the customers looking for? What are the clear, practical steps this business can take to give them that?
Some businesses might retain customers through providing quick, reliable service. Another business might focus on producing high-end quality products. Many businesses create loyal customers through a friendly demeanor and personal connection. These important factors should be in writing so all new workers can provide the same experience that regular customers have enjoyed for years.
The customer retention strategy should also discuss achieving a good first impression. This section might address maintaining a professional physical appearance, professional and unprofessional language, or proofreading tips for emails and faxes sent to customers.
Occasionally a business simply can’t provide something the customer is looking for. These moments don’t need to lose a potential loyal customer. The customer relations policy should detail how to handle this sticky situations, and how to deliver the bad news professionally .
Customer Complaint Management
Every business needs to create a clear process for handling customer complaints. Each employee should handle unsatisfied customers or clients in the same manner. This process can be different for each company but certain aspects should never be overlooked.
All unsatisfied customers should receive an apology. Many businesses enforce this policy even if the customer is clearly in the wrong. At the very least, the employee handling the complaint should apologize for the inconvenience. Often expressing sympathy can also soothe a ruffled customer. For example, the employee could say “I apologize, I can certainly see why this would be frustrating for you.”
After the apology, the employee’s next prerogative is to make it up to the customer. Sometimes this might include a refund, or free or discounted products and services. The complaint policy might include a specific action to appease unhappy customers and clients, or it could leave the course of action open. Employees might ask the customer himself how this wrong could be made right in his eyes.
Complaints come in many forms, so the customer relations policy might need to cover several mediums of communication. Customers might complain in person, by phone, or by email. Be sure to clearly explain how each complaint should be taken care of.
Measuring Customer Satisfaction
No customer relations policy is set in stone. Policy creators should establish a regular method of measuring the customer’s satisfaction. One idea might be to implement seasonal or annual customer surveys. If customer satisfaction begins to lull, it is time to start rewriting the customer relations policy. Many businesses will also provide an anonymous suggestion box for both their employees and customers. The best policies come together with contributions from many different brains. Make this document a group effort that continually evolves, and above all else, keeps the customer first.