Q:

What is your idea of exceptional customer service?

A:

Exceptional customer service involves understanding the product or service being sold, going beyond customers' expectations, fulfilling explicit and implied promises to customers, showing respect and interacting with customers outside the parameters of business transactions. Exceptional customer service also involves developing real relationships with the customers and listening to their concerns and desires. Staff must be trained to provide consistent service.

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Understanding a customer's business is only part of providing exceptional customer service. It is important to also develop honest relationships with customers that extend beyond business and to forge connections that treat clients as real people. Listening to customers, asking probing questions and reading body language opens communications channels to keep relationships strong. Interactions at fundraising events and holiday parties further reinforce the relationship.

Following up with customers to make sure all of their expectations have been met and exceeded is a crucial part of providing great customer service. Immediate responses to any customer concerns make it possible to solve problems right away. This leads to an increased level of trust. Employees must establish a clear and responsive process for handling customer complaints, and make sure to understand what a customer really wants to solve any problems that arrive. Customer complaints must be treated as a way to understand how to make customer service even more exceptional.

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