Deborah Meaden's guide to good client service
The Dragons' Den star reveals the secrets of good client service learned from her experiencea running a business to Louise Druce.
Before she became a TV star, Deborah Meaden built up a successful business at her family's leisure business, Weststar Holidays, eventually becoming managing director. But her experiences since then have opened up her eyes to the potential lurking within many underperforming businesses.
“Now I’ve been on TV, I don’t get bad customer service any more. It tells me that the same people who gave me a bad service [before being famous] can give me good service. It’s terrible but there is a glimmer of hope as we intrinsically know what good customer service is. You don’t have to teach what it is but the importance of delivering it.”
For Meaden, the key to success is simple: “Business is customer service. Good customer service is good business; bad customer service is bad business, full stop.”
When she was working in the family holiday park, Meaden says she didn't have an office. Instead she spent as much time as she could walking around and making herself accessible to the people who stayed there.
“I see people, not customers. I need to understand what the customer wants, talk the same language as them and have a relationship with them,” she said.
Good customer service goes beyond mere job roles – it’s what companies do. “In my call centre, the workforce were not just answering the phones, they were helping my customers decide which holiday is right for them. That is getting lost in organisations. We need to boil things down to make life easier but if we stop thinking about the service that the customer wants, how can we provide good customer service?”
Throughout her organisation, Meaden stressed the customer focus at every contact point - especially among the maintenance teams who were in conctact with holiday-makers. “They thought that they just fixed things but they had more contact with customers than I did and in very stressed environments where the outcome of the problem would affect customers,” she noted.
“It’s scary for people to look beyond what they do but it is more rewarding when they feel part of the business.”