Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Identifying your customers, part of Customer Service Foundations.
Outstanding customer service is defined as service that exceeds a customer's expectations. But every customer's expectations are just a little different. For this reason it can be helpful to think about the different types of customers you have. And identify some of their basic needs. I'd like to offer you a simple definition of the term customer to get us started. The customer is anyone you serve. Most of us have groups of people we refer to as customers, clients or maybe guests. But we often provide service to other people while doing our jobs.
This might include our co-workers, people in other departments and even vendors who provide essential supplies and services. I was fortunate to learn early on in my career about the importance of treating everyone like a customer. I once worked as a customer account manager for a large company. It would often take me several days to research problems with my customer's accounts. Because our customer service software didn't talk to our accounting software. One day, I met an employee from the accounting department in the cafeteria. We struck up a conversation, and I explained how I often had a hard time getting information about my customer's accounts.
She told me she had the same problem but in reverse. We realized we could help each other out by sharing information. From then on if I needed to look up something in our accounting software, I just called my friend and she gladly gave me the answer right away. In return I quickly answered her questions about customer accounts. In this way, treating each other like customers made both our jobs that much easier. Now, I'm going to walk you through an exercise that will help you identify some of your major customer groups. First, I'll show you an example and then I'll invite you to try identifying your own customers.
You may know who these people are already, but putting it down on paper can help clarify how each group likes to be served. For this example, we'll look at Maria. She's a customer service representative who works in the call center for a major telecommunications company. Maria has three major customer groups that she interacts with on a regular basis. The first group is external customers. These are the people who use the telecommunication services provided by Maria's company. Their typical needs include establishing new service, answering billing questions and getting technical support.
The second group is a technical support team that works for Maria's company. Maria transfers calls to this department when there's a technical problem that's beyond her level of expertise. The technical support team depends on Maria to gather information on the caller's problem up front, so it doesn't need to be repeated. They also appreciate it when she is able to diffuse an angry or upset customer before transfering them over. The third group of customers Maria serves is the company's team of field technicians. These technicians go to people's homes to install or repair services.
They depend on Maria to provide accurate information on the type of request, the time of the appointment, and any special considerations, such as the name of the person who'll be home to meet the technician. Understanding these different customer groups helps Maria do her job more effectively. The people who use her company services are her ultimate customers, but she also knows that working well with the technical support and field service teams helps to ensure her customers get the best possible service. Now I'd like to invite you to try this exercise with your own customers.
You can download the worksheet provided or just use a scratch piece of paper to identify the major groups of people you serve, along with each group's basic needs.
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- What is outstanding customer service?
- Identifying your customer
- Creating a customer service vision
- Enhancing likability in person, over the phone, and via email
- Actively listening to customers
- Going the extra mile
- Taking ownership of problems
- Diffusing angry customers
- Using data to evaluate and improve your customer service<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.