How your company takes care of customers can make or break your business. Put another way, how staff is trained to take care of customers can make or break your business.
Personalities are different and can clash. Just as in life, it is unrealistic to think that everyone on your staff is going to know how to get along with every type of customer. How your team is trained to handle customers, issues and the occasional dispute will swing the odds greatly in your favor.
Here are four tips to great customer service:
- Runarounds Ruin Returns
Do you like to wait? Do you enjoy being transferred from person to person within a company? Probably not - and your customers don't like it either. In a survey conducted by Dimensional Research, 69% of those asked defined good customer service as receiving fast problem resolution. A whopping 75% blamed their frustrations on having to explain their issue to multiple employees before reaching one who could help them.
What does that mean? It's simple...stop passing the buck. Customers don't appreciate being bounced around in the hopes that someone, somewhere can resolve their issue. Make sure staff know which areas handle specific problems and who within those areas has the decision-making power to ensure a positive outcome for them.
Failure to properly respond to customers can really hurt. More than 79% of high-income households were more likely to avoid a business for two or more years after a bad experience, than lower-income households.
Bottom line? If you don't want to hurt the bottom line, train staff to properly deal with customer issues.
- Transparent Transactions Triumph
Your business isn’t “Let’s Make a Deal.” Customers are not going to bid for what’s behind curtain number one. If they can’t easily access information about your product or service deliverables, pricing, discounts and how they’re applied – 45% of them will not call or even write an email. They will just simply go away in search of another company to meet their need.
When providing information about your products, services and company, there is no substitute for employee training. Great customer service hinges on great communication. Make sure everyone who has contact with the customer – from the techs to your office staff know about your products, company, return or refund policies and can communicate those clearly and concisely. Don’t expect customers to read your fine print, any important data should be shared upfront. If your transactions are transparent, it minimizes nasty surprises on both sides and will make your team triumphant.
- Super Stars Say "Thank you"
Let customers know you appreciate them and don’t take their patronage for granted. After all, they don’t have to do business with you. Your gratitude can take any form – it simply has to be timely and heartfelt. Make sure “thank you” is part of your company culture and staff training. A staff that thanks each other are much more likely to extend that gratitude to your customers.
Now let’s take it a step further. It’s easy to be thankful when things are going great, the key is to thank your customers when they’re giving you a hard time.
Yes, even if customers are calling to whine “instead of offering them a hunk of cheddar to go with it, say "thank you." Thank them for bringing a potentially business breaking problem to your attention. Thank them for alerting you to a non-customer friendly team member. Thank them for letting you know your product didn't work as expected. When you do, it can help transform an ugly situation into a very positive outcome for both your customer and your business.
Why? People like to feel validated. When you thank your complaining customer, in addition to apologizing for the negative experience, you are validating that they have good reason to be upset. You are telling them you appreciate their time spent letting you know about the problem, while indicating that your company is willing to work with them to make it right.
Invoices, emails, phone calls, advertisements – any customer contact – is an ideal opportunity to let customers know how important they are to you and how much you appreciate them by simply saying “thank you.”
- Trusting Relationships Last
Building trust in a business relationship is more than just delivering a good product. It starts in the office. Are you answering the phone promptly or is it ringing off the hook and going to voicemail more often than not? If your staff is answering the phone promptly and able to give your customers the personalized experience they expect, then you’re on the way to building solid trust.
Another important aspect is follow-through. If you promise a deliverable – deliver it. If that means writing a note on the back of your hand to remember, or staying a little later than normal to deliver – by all mean do so. Your customer will appreciate it. If you don’t, they’ll remember.
Your product or service may be the initial attraction for customers, bt is it enough to keep them as a customer for more than a season or two? By creating an environment focused on providing a consistently positive customer experience, your company can maintain repeat business and build a business brand that your customers can rely on time and again. And that means staff need to present themselves as being accessible, grateful, transparent and willing to work with them.
There are numerous tips for great customer service; however, if you implement these four, your company will be well on its way to becoming a team of customer service super stars.