The abc of customer service
Customer service is an integral part of a company’s job and should not be seen as an extension of it. A company’s most vital asset is its customers. Without them, they would not and could not exist in business. When you satisfy your customers, they not only help you grow by continuing to do business with you, but recommend you to friends and associates.
The practice of customer service should be as presented on the show floor as it is in any other sales environment.
The ten commandments of customer service
Know who is boss
You are in business to service customer needs, and you can only do that if you know what it is your customer wants. When you truly listen to your customers, they let you know what they want and how you can provide good service. Never forget that the customer pays your salary and makes your job possible.
Be a good listener.
Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. Listen to their words, tone of voice, body language, and most importantly, how they feel. Beware of making assumptions – thinking you intuitively know what the customer wants. Do you know what three things are most important to your customer?
Effective listening and undivided attention are particularly important on the show floor where there is a great danger of preoccupation – looking around to see to whom else we could be selling.
Identify and anticipate needs
Customers don’t buy products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to problems, most customer needs are emotional rather than logical. The more you know your customers, the better you become at anticipating their needs. Communicate regularly so that you are aware of problems or upcoming needs.
Make customers feel important and appreciated
Treat them as individuals. Always use their names and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feelings and trust. Think about ways to generate good feelings about doing business with you. Customers are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. Thank them every time you get a chance.
On the show floor be sure that your body language conveys sincerity. Your words and actions should be congruent.
Help customers understand your systems
Your organization may have the world’s best systems for getting things done, but if customers don’t understand them, they can get confused, impatient and angry. Take time to explain how your
systems work and how they simplify transactions. Be careful that your systems don’t reduce the human element of your organization.
Appreciate the power of “Yes”
Always look for ways to help your customers. When they have a request (as long as it is reasonable) tell them that you can do it. Figure out how afterwards. Look for ways to make doing business with you easy. Always do what you say you are going to do.
Know how to apologize
When something goes wrong, apologize. It’s easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Deal with problems immediately and let customers know what you have done. Make it simple for customers to complain. Value their complaints. As much as we dislike it, it gives us an opportunity to improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to make them feel comfortable.
Give more than expected
Since the future of all companies lies in keeping customers happy, think of ways to elevate yourself above the competition. Consider the following:
What can you give customers that they cannot get elsewhere?
What can you do to follow up and thank people even when they don’t buy?
What can you give a customer that is totally unexpected?
Get regular feedback
Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve. There are several ways in which you can find out what customers think and feel about your services.
Listen carefully to what they say.
Check back regularly to see how things are going.
Provide a method that invites constructive criticism, comments and suggestions.
Treat employees well
Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. Treat your employees with respect and chances are they will have a higher regard for customers. Appreciation stems from the top. Treating customers and employees well is equally important.
10 tips for achieving good customer relations
Good customer service and relations are the key elements which drive business. These tips are designed to help keep the focus on that aspect of business.
Good customer service is always important. Great customer service is especially important in difficult economic times. The adage should be don’t merely satisfy the customer, but delight them. Go beyond the ordinary and do an especially good job.
The following are a number of tips to keep on track of doing this. Think of each and every customer support contact as a means of building a long term beneficial relationship.
Don’t make promises that can’t be met
If anything disappoints a customer the topmost is unmet promises. Set a reasonable expectation for the customer and follow through. If a customer is expecting a response within a day, make that a reality. If there is no reasonable expectation that a day is reasonable, say so, and set a target date.
Listen and be attentive
One of the key elements of good customer service is listening skills. Listen to what the customer needs and question the customer if you don’t understand them.
Take complaints seriously
No one wants to hear complaints and some complaints are unreasonable. A good customer service representative will listen to a customer. Perhaps the complaint is not the real issue. Seek to find out what the real problem is.
Answer the phone
Answering a customer’s issue is most important. If the customer is the one who will call in, take the call. Maintain a pleasant attitude, this more than anything else can help diffuse a potentially negative situation and make it a “win-win” situation.
Remember that a customer today is tomorrow’s customer
No one lives by the profit of a single sale. A satisfied customer is more likely than not to be a repeat customer. Customers will frequent establishments at which they have received good customer service.
Make it a point to train staff
A big turnoff to customers is coming in contact with a customer service representative who seems to know less about a product or service than they do. Training staff to be knowledgeable and responsive is essential for good customer relations.
Take that extra step
Lead the customer to the solution. This can mean showing them where an item is in retail or pointing them out to resources that might be helpful if the business is related to how to use a product.
Use the opportunity to promote business
The customer may have a legitimate complaint. Resolving an issue can be an opportunity to not only resolve a problem but can be a lead into other products or services that the business can provide. This is essential when the customer has a service level agreement or a service contract.
Keep track of problem resolutions
One customer’s problem may be similar to that which will be experienced by others in the future. Keeping notes can be a way of providing a speedier resolution of a problem in the future.
Keep a positive attitude
Not everyone is satisfied easily and some people are never satisfied no matter how hard someone may try. It is important that one negative transaction is not allowed to color one’s attitude to all customer interactions.
A customer support position is perhaps the most important position in a business organization. It may be the only point of contact a customer may have with a business. This is especially important where a service level agreement of contract is in place. A good customer will not abuse this arrangement but will use it when the circumstance warrants it. Good customer support is the key to good customer relations and, in fact, human relations.
How to develop outstanding customer service policies
To be competitive, all businesses must have outstanding customer service practices and policies. If you do not have a customer service policy or need to revamp existing one start by creating an outline.
The following questions can serve as a foundational guide for developing your business plan, feasibility study, or business model to create or improve customer satisfaction.
Do you have a return or exchange policy?
How will you resolve customer complaints?
How can customers resolve problems, place orders, or reach you with questions? (Will you have an auto responder or will customers receive a personal response?)
Will you join the local chamber of commerce, professional associations, or other groups or associations that can boost your credibility and visibility?
Understanding the importance of good customer service
How to lose customers
Attracting customers is half your goal in business. You also need to focus on developing strategies for customer retention because repeat and referral customers are vital to sustain and grow your business. To accomplish this you need to have customer service policies in place!
The importance of treating customers, employees, and stakeholders equally
Customer policies and relationship standards should be part of your mission statement, neither receiving substandard or preferential treatment over employees, contractors, or even stakeholders. Tremendous success can be achieved by following a business model that values stakeholders, employees, and customers equally…”
Successful business tip
If you have customers you absolutely must have a customer service policy in place. If you use a website your customer service policies and privacy practices information should be clearly stated for your customers not buried deep within your website.
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