Do you provide good Customer Service?
Customer service has been around for a long time and the term has been over-used and neglected. Customer Service has also been defined in different ways.
What does Customer Service mean to you as a consumer?
- “after sales” support?
- efficient communication between you and the seller?
- being valued as a customer?
- offered special deals and added value to your purchase?
- a seller who will “negotiate” a resolution when you have a problem?
- provide “self-service” such as an Internet site where you can get help?
A definition of Customer Service is a series of procedures designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction or has met the customer’s expectations – before, during and after the sale. Customer Service should be an integral part of a company’s value proposition.
Why is Customer Service so important?
I’m sure you have heard this before. Obtaining new customers is much more labour intensive and expensive than keeping existing customers and the referrals you are likely to get from them. There is a general consensus among consumers that the level of customer service today has decreased. But some companies believe that providing a high level of customer service (or “customer love”) is the only way to grow your business in these times.
7 Rules for Good Customer Service
1. Answer your phone (and email):
If you can’t answer it, have an answering service such as voicemail. And very important is to answer all messages within a reasonable period of time (24 hours). Responding to customers is paramount to displaying your respect of the customer’s needs and time.
2. Don’t make promises you can’t keep:
If you are asked for a quote, a delivery date, a guarantee, a response or anything else, give some thought to what you are promising and deliver on time. Making the effort to form a good customer relationship is the basis of a happy and satisfied customer experience.
3. Listen to your customers:
In order to provide customer satisfaction, take the time to listen and understand your customers requests, how to fulfill their needs or solve their problems.
4. Deal with complaints:
No-one likes to deal with them and there is the saying that “you can’t please everyone” but you can certainly make the effort to understand the issue, clarify the needs and negotiate a resolution that will address their concerns.
5. Be helpful, even if there is no immediate benefit from making the effort:
Example – a friend had a broken necklace chain and went to a jewellry store/repair shop, where the owner looked at it but stated that it could not be repaired, but he had a similar chain laying there that he could give her as a replacement – free! Was she ever impressed! And she is now looking for a new watch. Guess where she is going to go first….and how many people she will tell about the service she received – she told me!
6. Train your staff (if you have employees)
Train them that Customer Service is a top priority to any customer they serve. Make it clear as to what your idea of Customer Service entails and give them enough insight to be able to make the correct decisions to provide customer satisfaction in your absence. If they are unable to resolve the issue at that time, encourage them to suggest that they will pass on the concern to the owner (you) and that you will get back to the customer at a specific time when you return.
7. Take the extra step:
If a customer approaches you about something they specifically are looking for, don’t just point them in the direction – clarify their needs, offer products or suggestions to help them meet that need and ask them if they need more information or services or products which will be of benefit to them. Offer them a coupon for a future purchase. Invite them to contact you at a future time, if they need any more assistance. It does not have to be a significant offering, but it will still be appreciated.
If you take the time to follow the above steps, you will become known for your excellent Customer Service. Over time, it will bring repeat customers and referrals that will successfully grow your business!
If you can suggest more tips, please feel free to comment.
Diane L. Coville