If you think about it, there is no company out there that has complete market domination. Where there is Coca Cola, there’s Pepsi. Where there is Microsoft, there’s Apple. Just about every single business has a competitor that may provide a competing product or service of equal value to the customer, and arguably sometimes better, sometimes worse.
The one thing that will set a business apart from its competitors, however, is customer service. It is the lifeblood of most businesses and if you’re in the service industry, forget it. It’s the whole basis of your existence. A customer will walk away and remember their experience with your company and if they have a positive or negative experience and how such a negative experience is handled may be the difference between creating a repeat customer, acquiring new customers and even losing an existing customer and future customers.
Here are 10 simple tips for providing superb customer service.
- Listen to your customers. Listening to your customers is just as important, if not more important, than the actual message or answer that you convey. If a customer expresses a particular need, listen. If they share an unpleasant experience, listen. Find out what it is that your customers need and don’t just hear them, listen to them.
- The power of a smile. Attitude is everything and customers will be drawn to businesses that come with an experience that involves happy, positive and smiling employees. And there’s a difference between a fake, rehearsed smile and a natural one. So, whatever it may take to bring that genuine smile out of you, find it and use it!
- Handle complaints promptly and with urgency. Complaints should be viewed as fires that need to be put out and handled with a great deal of urgency, care and consideration. People don’t like to be confronted and don’t like to deal with things that may make them uncomfortable or may put them in a defensive position, but customer complaints are not meant to be swept under a rug, because what may have been a minor complaint may soon escalate into a much bigger problem.
- Train, train, train. Train your employees and colleagues to create a customer-centered culture. The more it is practiced and engrained in the minds of those around you, the more natural the entire customer service process will become. There is that saying, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” So, figure out what kind of policies you want to have in place to handle your customers’ needs and wants and put it to action.
- Learn how to apologize. Sometimes all a customer is looking for is an apology. Many people have an issue with apologizing, especially in the workplace as they worry about somehow personally taking fault or blame for a customer’s experience; however, this isn’t the case 99% of the time. Most people would just like to know that they have been heard, that the company acknowledges that something wasn’t handled correctly and will make an attempt to correct such an incident in the future. So, learn to apologize to your customers for the experience they had and determine what you can do to make it better.
- Don’t make empty promises. One of the most frustrating experiences for customers is working with a company that makes empty promises. It can be something as simple as being told that you will get back to them on Wednesday and returning their call on Friday (or worse yet, not at all, until they have to call you back!). It is important that you have a system in place that creates reminders and procedures in place to make sure that the promises made to customers are met and that, if for any reason, you or your company can’t deliver on such a promise, that it is handled directly as soon as possible to rectify the situation.
- Treat your employees well. Your employees are customers too, whether they were before they were hired or continue to be outside of their employment. How they are treated, how much they enjoy their job and the loyalty they feel in their company will show with how they interact with the customers. Perhaps you’ve been to an establishment where the employees were sitting around talking about how terrible it is to work there or dying for the clock to hit 5pm. These employees are bad energy and will actually do you a greater disservice. So, treat your employees well and do what you can to ensure that they are happy.
- Go the extra mile. Most companies provide the basic level and amount of customer service, but it is the companies that go that extra mile and find the little ways to go above and beyond the call of duty that will create a lasting impression in the minds of their customers. Be that employee or that company.
- Don’t measure success only in dollars and cents. The little things that you do with respect to customer service will never quite be seen on the books, especially right away. You might go the extra mile for that customer and then when they need your product or service down the road, they decide to give you your business again because of their last experience with you. Or, better yet, word-of-mouth advertising is the best kind of advertising that there is. So, say you make a customer’s experience with your company an extremely enjoyable one, they go and tell 5 of their friends and before you know it, your superb customer service paid over 5-fold.
- Stay in contact. It is important to stay in touch with your customers so that they understand and believe that their relationship with you and your company is a long-term relationship. Find ways to stay in touch with your customers through promotions, social media, newsletters and other means to keep your company in their thoughts and decision-making processes.
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