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The Keys to Customer Service

Customer Service and Sport

Do principles of customer service apply to sport? Is customer service a concept that only has application in the business world? You be the judge!

Some important principles of customer service include the following:

  • Customers are the most important assets of any organisation. Without customers, we have no business.
  • If customers are the most important asset of an organisation, we must shape our business to meet their needs and expectations, rather than the other way around
  • Happy customers are an organisation’s primary objective. An unhappy customer will not return to do further business, and evidence from research says that these people on average tell 11 other people about the unhappy experience (in turn, these people tell 5 other people about the experience!). On the other hand, happy customers will not only be ‘repeat’ customers, they will tell other people about their good experience. They will be free advertisements
  • If customers are the most important business asset, front line staff must be skilled, and systems must be developed, to ensure that customer contacts with the business are simple, enjoyable and hassle free. In addition, the organisation needs to ensure that front line staff receive support from all other staff, to enable the front line staff to do their job well.

What are the Key Ingredients for Good Customer Service?

 For any organisation to gain a reputation for outstanding service, they need to attend to four ‘platforms’ or foundations of good service. These platforms are represented in Figure 1 below.

Know Your Customers

Any organisation must learn about its customer base, including current, prospective and lost customers.

Take lost customers as an example. There is research that reports that US companies lose up to 35% of their customers and don’t even realise it. This is a remarkable statistic, and very worrying if it is even close to accurate.

Business is all about keeping and winning new customers - not losing them. Consequently, we need to know if we are losing customers and why. We need systems in place that regularly inform us about:

  • Who we have lost as customers
  • Why we lost them as customers
  • Whether the reasons we lost customers were under our control i.e. could we have done anything to prevent losing these customers?
Along with our current customers, our prospective customers represent the potential for growth in our business.

Businesses need to ask some key questions about prospective customers:
  • Who are our best prospects?
  • How are we currently marketing to our prospective customers?
  • Are we marketing in the best ways to our ‘best’ prospective customers?
  • Why are our prospective customers not customers?

Check Up Constantly

It doesn’t matter what an organisation thinks about the quality of the service it provides. Unless the customers regard the service as good, then it isn’t. This means it is imperative that organisations get feedback from its customers. I am aware of six strategies can be used to acquire this feedback Some of these include:
  • Surveys
  • Focus Group sessions
  • Telephone interviews
The key here is getting good feedback and acting on it.

Build a ‘Winning’ Team.

One quote I am aware of says ‘I know of no organisation renowned for its commitment to customer service that simultaneously abuses its internal customers. The task of customer service begins within’.

This is a powerful message as it says that our internal house must be in order before we can deliver great customer service. Ensuring we operate as a happy, efficient and productive team is essential.

Establishing Standards of Service

McDonalds have a catch cry that says ‘this is the way we do things around here’. They have systems and standards that are clear and are not negotiable. Organisations can spend time clearly identifying the ‘bottom line standards’ that customers can expect, to ensure that there is no weak link in the chain. These bottom line standards of service can be reviewed regularly to ensure consistent and high levels of service.

Does customer service apply to sports? Could we replace the word ‘customers’ with ‘players’? Could we replace the word ‘customers’ with ‘volunteers’? You be the judge!
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