Businesses are made up of various functions from production to marketing.  One of the most critical pieces is the way businesses handle their prospective and current customers.   Most companies are trying to use technology to better manage and serve their customers.  However, some are still finding it hard to better serve their clients through only increased use of technology.  Here are a few ways businesses can better delight their customers and supplement their technology infrastructure.

1. Identifying your target customer:

The first thing a business should do is really understand their customer. Who are they really? What are their needs as it relates to your business? How and what times or places do they interact with your business? What are the services you deliver to them?  Begin by segmenting your targeted customers based on their behaviors, buying habits or interactions with your firm.  Understand which segments require the most attention and via what channels.  Also analyze each segment's true lifetime value as a customer.  Focus your attention on those with the highest lifetime values or those with the likelihood to turning into high lifetime value customers.

2. Determine your customers’ needs:

Understand your targeted customers "wants" in addition to their current "needs".  Tools that can help you do this include:
a.  satisfaction surveys conducted online,
b.  phone and email surveys
c.  focus groups or in-person surveys
d.  channel analytics and user testing

It also important to determine how customers prioritize their wants and needs based on the survey results.  Common responses from customers can include timeliness, quality services and products, convenience, variety and selection, protection and security.  Even so, you should be able to identify each segment's most important need.  Also don't forget understanding your customer's "wants" in addition to their "needs" and see if it is within the business’s ability to deliver.

3. Establish a customer service culture:

In top performing businesses senior managers require that employees at every level understand their customer’s needs and are equipped with sufficient tools in order to serve them efficiently.  Decision makers should also be constantly interacting with customers.  This helps keep a pulse on changing requirements and allows for testing of new solutions to existing problems.  Particularly important are also front line customer service providers who must be wholly empowered to solve customer problems and convey issues and new learnings up the chain.

4. Articulate clear service standards and expectations:

The major cause of ineffective and unsatisfactory services within a business is poor communication of expectations and service standards.  It is important to clearly articulate service standards and expectations so all employees are clear on what is expected.  Set strict service standards such as claims processing times, call wait times and satisfaction ratings.  Make sure you define the standards and make them readily available for all employees.  Goals that are clearly defined boosts employee morale as it helps in managing customer expectations.  When service standards aren't met for some reason, customers should be politely informed and reassured about the business's dedication to them.