Customer service drives your business forward and therefore should be given priority in your overall operations. However, when companies are performing well, customer service complacency can occur. While focusing on meeting their quarterly financial objectives, developing new projects and services and coming up with marketing strategies to bring in more leads, they may actually lose sight of what got them to their level of achievement in the first place.
Each business will have unique concerns to focus on, of course, with some industries requiring much more customer engagement than others. For example, a small bed and breakfast might have much more interaction between staffers and employees than a large hardware store. No matter your industry, it’s important to reflect on the customer experience you hope to deliver and compare it with the level of service you’re currently offering. A customer service audit is a great way to do just that. How to do your customer service audit varies from industry to industry, of course, but there are some universal truths to keep in mind.
No company can expect to prosper if it neglects customers through poor service. This underscores the need for companies to check in on their customer service processes internally. Here is a checklist of things to look for to ensure that your service is up to par:
What is Your Ratio of Answered Calls to Unanswered Calls?
Is your company so short on staff that sometimes you see an employee scrambling to run across the room to answer a call that’s been ringing off the hook? Unanswered calls can cast a black pall over a company. Keep track of calls that go unanswered or that go to voicemail. Big picture statistics on how many calls you miss out on over the course of a day, week, month, or year can paint a clear picture of the current level of service you’re extending to prospective and existing customers. Though this is just one aspect of your customer service audit, your ratio of answered and unanswered calls is often extremely telling.
What is an ideal ratio? 100/100. No call should be left unanswered or sent to voicemail. There is an opportunity to provide great service every time the phone rings.
What is the Definition of a Customer Service Audit?
Taking a look at the customer service audit definition can help us understand the value of such an undertaking. An audit allows you to unpack what your organization and employees are doing well and what areas could use some improvement. An audit provides an unbiased look into the type of experiences your customers are having – it’s often far different than the one they receive when the bosses are watching. The customer service audit process can be incredibly revealing – and incredibly helpful for your overall customer experience strategy.
A customer experience audit can come in many different forms. You might hire a mystery shopper to come assess the experience they receive as a customer. A telephone audit can be helpful for identifying issues with the experiences your callers receive when they dial your business. Storefront and restaurant audits have similar benefits. No matter the style of audit you prefer to conduct, the results are sure to be revealing.
How Often Do I Need to Do A Customer Experience Audit?
The customer service audit process is not a small undertaking. It requires serious reflection, effort, and genuine insight. For these reasons, many businesses conduct them only once or twice a year. To understand how often you should be performing such audits, consider the average customer life cycle. Are people patronizing your business once a month? Once a year? Or once and never again? The answers to these questions can lead to important revelations about how often you need to perform a customer experience audit.
Even if you only perform a customer service audit a few times a year, you can take the temperature of your customers beyond the full audit process. Between audits, rely on customer surveys, focus groups, and other forms of feedback to keep your finger on the pulse. While nothing can quite replicate the audit process, it’s important to always be checking in with your customers to ensure you’re delivering on their expectations.
Customer Service Audit Process
As you begin the customer service audit process, it helps to have one main question you’d like to investigate. Maybe you’re eager to learn what you should be investing your time and energy into. Perhaps you’re curious about the most important kinds of customer service skills. Or maybe you’re just looking for more information about what your customers truly care about. Whatever drives your audit, make sure you have one main focus of your investigation.
Deciding on a singular question to drive your audit can help provide focus. Once you know what you’re looking for, start diving into the statistics. Let’s say you’re most curious about what customers want most from your organization. Delve into the metrics – calls, emails, and chat conversations can be incredibly revealing. You likely already have a good deal of information at your fingertips, so it’s important not to neglect these figures in your search for quality customer service.
Next, chat with employees about their experiences. A customer service audit is nothing without the insight of people who work directly with customers themselves. This on the ground information is invaluable in the assessment process. Employees can shed light on common hiccups in the sales funnel and offer insight into how to improve. Be sure to talk with both new and seasoned staff alike; they often have very different experiences and viewpoints worth noting.
The next steps will depend greatly on your organization and your goals for the audit. If you’re hoping to learn what it’s like to buy from you, a mystery shopper might be a good addition. If you’re curious about what customers do after making a purchase with you, focus groups and interviews may be beneficial. Your customer service audit process is completely in your hands. Allow your innate curiosity and empathy for customers to drive your investigation.
Why Follow Up is Important in Customer Care
Whatever you decide to put on your customer service audit checklist, be mindful of how you follow up. Customers deserve to be heard, but they also deserve to be kept in the loop. If you conduct interviews with customers about their experiences, keep them updated on any changes you make because of their insight. Bring this same collaborative spirit to every customer interaction and you’ll see loyalty grow in a way that feels organic.
Customer Service Audit & Quality Customer Care Checklist
Investigating your customer service offerings begins with reflection. Consider these questions as you form your own unique customer service audit checklist:
- What are you promising your customers?
- Do you have the infrastructure necessary to deliver on those promises?
- What does staying true to your word mean for your organization?
- How do you deliver on customer expectations?
- Have you followed up on customer requests, complaints, and recommendations?
- What experience does each customer have when walking through the door of your organization?
- What experience does each person have calling your organization?
- Are you anticipating customer needs? How so?
- What might it take to make meaningful connections with your customers?
There’s no single one-size fits all approach to designing the perfect customer audit checklist for your business. By defining your goals and understanding your limitations, you can begin to delve into your customer experience and any shortcomings you might have. The process can be challenging, but the rewards are sweet.
Do Employees Understand All Important Aspects of the Business?
When questioning how to do your customer service audit, make sure to factor employee development into the equation. Employees who cannot answer basic customer questions are a drag on your company. Make sure they get proper training so they can better address queries and guide customers to the appropriate product or service. By identifying points of contention and confusion amongst your staff, you can clarify your position on the subject and get everybody on the same page.
How Many Complaints Have You Received in a Given Period?
Context is everything when it comes to complaints. While it’s easy to brush away data at the surface level, patterns may become more evident when you look at the big picture during your customer service audit. Weekly statistics might be needed for your particular company, especially if you do a high volume of business. Otherwise, monitor the number of complaints you receive each month and compare the results to see if you are improving or declining. There’s no one perfect formula for contextualizing complaints, so play with the figures to see if any trends arise.
How Many Compliments Have You Received in a Given Period?
Compliments are just as important as complaints to keep track of. You can get details from incoming emails, posts on your company’s social media channels as well as on note cards that you leave out to solicit customer feedback and ratings. While it’s important to accept compliments and keep moving, it’s equally crucial to understand where you’re succeeding and how to maintain your reputation for excellence. A customer service audit should paint a complete picture of your offerings, so it’s important not to neglect these compliments as they come in!
How Long Does Staff Take to Respond to Inquiries?
Phones should always be answered immediately. If you lack the staff resources to answer each call as it comes in, it’s a sign that you need to hire more people. A more practical solution is to work with a third-party call center to handle all the incoming calls, 24/7. In an increasingly globalized society, you’re no longer just competing with other local businesses. To grow your business – or even just hold steady – you’ve got to be ready to offer the kind of round-the-clock service customers have come to expect. Fail to deliver and you’ll find your company being passed over for other more accessible brands.
Do Employees Ask if They’ve Addressed All Customer Questions and Complaints?
Your employees should never assume that all of a customer’s needs have been addressed. Verify that they ask the customer if they need to take care of anything else before trying to conclude the call. This kind of verification requires little effort but makes a big impression on the caller, keeping them coming back time and time again.
Do We Conduct Regular Staff Meetings to Cover Customer Service Issues?
A company that does not examine itself from time to time can become lost and drift from its core values. You should establish ongoing meetings to share concerns and complaints so members of your team can learn from one another about handling ongoing customer problems.
How Are You Following Up?
How do you know if you’ve thoroughly met your customers’ needs if you don’t check in with them after rendering service? Track how well you are doing at following up with customers.
Do Employees Have Authority to Make Things Right on Their Own?
When a customer calls in with a problem, can your employees come up with a solution by themselves, or do they have to bring in a manager to take over? Many businesses find that they increase profits and expand their customer base faster when they empower employees to make creative and useful solutions.
Are You Using the Magic Words?
Does every employee interaction with customers include the use of courteous terms including “please” and “thank you?” It’s almost a cliché to point these out, but using these magic words on a consistent basis will help ensure your team keeps customer service top of mind.
At MAP Communications, each member of our team knows the importance of providing outstanding customer service. Behaving professionally and courteously with each person we interact with is our highest priority. If your customer service audit shows that you could use some improvement in how you communicate with people contacting your business, you’ll want to consider outsourcing customer support. For more information about how we deliver outstanding customer service, please contact the professionals at MAP Communications today.
Try MAP Communications Answering Services Today
If you’ve completed your customer service audit and want to take control of your organization’s customer experiences, an outsourced partner like MAP Communications can help. Consistency is often a major challenge for businesses. A live answering service staffed by highly-trained professional virtual receptionists can bring high standards to every call. We’re currently offering a free week trial of our services to give new users an idea of what they can gain through a partnership with MAP. Sign up today to see what a difference quality customer service can make!
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