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At Polyblend, our aim has always been to focus on relationship-building to create long-term working partnerships with customers. We have adapted this further with advancements in the new digital age and our customers, who are now more considered than ever before.

How do you connect with your customers?

Most Business leaders understand that data-driven business processes let you see problems before they occur, so you don’t have to firefight and devise solutions when they do. In the same way, providing proactive customer service that invests in the customer experience before, during, and after the sale results in fewer and more manageable problems down the line.

Setting a foundation of the best quality offering of your products or services is a fantastic way to invest in the before stage. To ensure you have a disciplined and trackable procedure that determines the customer experience during a sale, invest in your sales process and team training.

Then, after the sale, customer service and support are there to continue to service their needs and, if necessary, rectify any mistakes. Remember, your customer will remember how you fixed a mistake far more than the mistake itself.

 

How to provide the best customer experience?

Along the way, listen — and I mean truly listen, to what your customers want, and use that data to improve the customer experience at all stages to extend their lifecycle with your company.There are five main steps to follow to make sure you get it right.

1. Implement customer centric processes, not policies.

With before, during and after the sale in mind, establish customer service processes rather than policies, and take responsibility for every phase of their experience. A policy should only become active when required in A compliance, contractual or legal response to a certain request.

For example, a customer tries to make a return and you tell him or her, “It’s not our policy to return that item.” Policy activated. But policy becomes a shield, letting you hide behind someone else’s bigger, more binding decision, and it can cause discomfort in the customer experience.

A process, on the other hand, is a particular mode in which you always operate, giving you the power to determine when situations might warrant an exception. Following regular company processes allows for more flexibility when certain situations demand it. Policy says, “I’m going to put up a wall that prevents resolution.” Process says, “I’m going to work with you on this,” and customers appreciate that.

2. Listen to the voice of the customer

At Polyblend, with our customers at the forefront of our mind, responding to changing consumer demand is of high importance to us, but with the plastics industry playing a key role in society, we always ensure we listen to the voice of our customer and maintain focus on their requirements.

One of the biggest challenges for business leaders is forgetting that customers are people, not companies. With today’s explosion of broadband and digital deployment, my team must remember that our customers are all just people trying to meet demands and deadlines and are not the faceless company names we hear in the news.

3. Be responsive

Did you know that three quarters (75%) of todays customers say that fast response times are the most important part of the customer experience. Nearly half (46%) of customers expect a business to respond within 4 hours, and 12% expect a response in under 15 minutes!

Even if you can’t solve the customer’s problem at the first point of contact, they will still prefer to know that they left an inquiry with a real person and your company is dealing with or investigating it.

The worst thing you can do is leave a customer in the dark wondering not only if you’re working on a problem, but if you’ve seen his initial inquiry in the first place.

4. Keep your promises.

If you make a customer promise, be sure you can keep it. Making a promise that you know you might have to break may get you short-term solutions for today’s problems, but it comes with bigger service issues down the line.

The supply chain issues are causing problems for everyone these days, but especially for customer service. With so much beyond their control, I see my team struggling to service their accounts: Raw materials are unavailable, the ships can’t get into port, trucks are sitting without drivers, and customers end up without items they need.

Certainly not how we operate but giving false promises can result in a bad customer experience, which didn’t deliver what they needed, and they end up upset and looking for someone to blame. Anyone can be understanding about a situation beyond their control, but broken promises with a customer are much harder to repair.

Instead of making promises, be transparent about the things that are outside of your control and keep the communication channels open and engaged.

5. Admit when you’re wrong.

It takes a lot of courage to admit that you were wrong about something, but when it comes to dealing with customers, accepting this responsibility as soon as it’s made aware, makes a world of difference. Being open and honest to provide the plain facts about the problems that are or have been encountered actually builds relations. Instead of the relationship crumbling due to a lack of trust, the customer feels included in the situation and maintains faith that they are fully kept in the loop. Even if it isn’t the ideal outcome at the time, continuation to serve and support is recognised by the customer and relationships are fully maintained for the long-term.

Why we do what we do…….

There’s nothing worse for customers who feel they have a legitimate case than to have service representatives refuse to admit when they’re wrong. Even if the representative grants the request, the customer can leave the experience feeling they were asking for some undeserved favour.

Taking responsibility when you’re wrong, on the other hand, demonstrates professionalism, transparency, and respect. This usually opens up the opportunity to work towards a resolution. If you can be strong enough to recognise a mistake, take that extra step and apologise — and truly mean it. Some people are afraid to say, “I’m sorry.” Others say the words way too often. In both cases, the result outcome is a shallow experience. When a representative can convey an honest apology for an inconvenience, customers feel heard and believe their concerns are recognised.

To understand people, how they provide service and work with others, and the underlying forces behind that, business leaders need to connect with them at each layer of the company, and that includes their customers.

In summary,

Understand the importance of providing a great customer experience. You need to know what your customers deal with and how they represent their own company to connect with them and understand what affects them if you want to operate as a partnership. Experience tells me that if you deal with the person at the company and follow the four steps above, I’m pretty sure that you will have far greater relationships with your customers for many years to come.

Are you looking for a manufacturer with experience, expertise with a customer-centric approach? Get in touch with us at Polyblend to find out more about our custom-formulated products.

Published by
Mark Stewart
Supporting plastic manufacturers with bespoke polymer and colour solutions
Managing Director
Polyblend UK LTD

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