Providing Stellar Customer ServiceEditor
You’ll probably agree that, as a business owner, there are many fears to face. And one of the biggest worries we have is where we will find our customers. We research ways to grow our business and network to meet our future clients. Alas, we find customers, but then we become lackadaisical and lose those very customers. Building a solid customer foundation is equal parts of obtaining and retaining. You’ve done half the work in attracting the people, you don’t want to drop the ball in keeping them.
Think of how many businesses you’ve had dealings with in your lifetime. The number is probably pretty high. Do you still give all of those businesses your money? Of the ones that you no longer patronize, what are some of the reasons you stopped giving them your hard earned dollars? This is a good model as to what NOT to do. Providing good customer service is an important key as to how long you’ll be in business for.
No matter who the person, be it you or a staff member, be sure they feel important. There are times this will be a difficult thing to do. Perhaps you are having a trying day. Maybe your tire blew on the way in to the office. Perhaps your kids weren’t little angels this morning. We all have bad days and that includes your customers. Keep this in mind if they are being extra difficult and try to diffuse the situation with understanding. We’re all human and our bad day may be someone else’s best day. You never know what’s going on in another person’s life. In view of that, your kindness and understanding may be the highlight of their day and leave the best impression with them and keep them coming back.
An effective tool in building relationships with your customers, and that should be your goal, is humor. People want to be around and associate with those that make them laugh. It truly is the best medicine.This doesn’t require you to be a stand-up comedian. Even just lightening the conversation can be the difference in attracting people back. And don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself. Nobody wants to be around someone that takes themselves too seriously.
A big part of the customer service puzzle is follow through. If a client contacts you, be sure to return the correspondence in a timely fashion. Many businesses lose clients due to slow follow up slow turnaround time. Nothing makes a person feel less important than being ignored. If it’s something that is more time consuming to deal with, at least give them the courtesy of telling them you’ll get back to them. That goes a long way.
Offering loyalty programs and rewards also entice people to keep coming back. You’ve probably been to an establishment where they had some type of rewards program. For example:“for every 10 cups of coffee, you get one free” type of thing. Depending on what type of industry you’re in, will determine what types of perks you offer. Awards could be based on frequency of visits, purchases, and referrals. Make it worth it to your patrons to stay loyal to you and for the long haul.
Be a man/woman of your word! If you promise something to your customer, be sure to deliver. There will be times, of course, where there will be extenuating circumstances that keep you from your usual service, but make an effort to make it right with your client. Sadly, people have become skeptical by nature. In reality, they fear being “taken” and lose trust quickly. Ultimately, many of us have had bad experiences that make people question others’ integrity. With this in mind, go above and beyond to gain, and keep, their trust. In addition, don’t fear asking your customers to offer suggestions on ways you can improve your service as well as what they like about doing business with you.
In the long run, the “Golden Rule” is always the best way to run your business (and life); “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you”. If you follow this philosophy, you’ll make your customers’ life, and consequently your life, easier and more pleasant.