If you are like me, you’ve had several experiences with TERRIBLE customer service. Take a moment and think about the last time you had a terrible experience with a product or a service. Maybe the product/service didn’t live up to the salesman pitch. Maybe the business customer support was unresponsive to your calls or emails. Maybe they failed to do what they said they were doing. Or maybe when you actually got in contact with someone, they gave you the run-around regarding your issue or concern.
Customer Service = Great Customer Experience
If you think that about it, most negative experiences drill down to one thing, a scarcity of great customer service. And an absence of customer service usually stems from an absence of customer focus.
It seems many businesses have simply lost sight of who they’re really in business to serve. Instead of the old saying, “the customer is right,” many businesses seem almost bothered by customers lately.
In fact, let’s talk about a secret from my early agency days. There was a saying: “this business would be great, if it wasn’t for the clients.” How ridiculous is that?! We wouldn’t have had a business if it weren’t for the clients (I’m older and wiser now!). Yes, sometimes clients are often difficult, but without them we would not be in business. Our job is to serve them…If they’re upset, we should always welcome the chance to seek out why and use that information to enhance our product or service.
Yes, sometimes you’ll run into some people who are being totally unreasonable, but hey that’s part of the business . But often, client complaints uncover issues about our products or services that we can improve.
So, make it a priority to process your customers feedback. Make a commitment to treat all your customers great. After all, giving great customer service is one of the best and cheapest marketing tools available. When you treat your customers great or you deliver beyond their expectations, you’ll be rewarded.
Those happy customers are the same customers who will happily refer and praise you on there social media. The opposite is also true. If you disappoint a customer, don’t deliver what you promise or just plain treat them badly, they’re going to tell everyone in the come in contact with how terrible your business is. In fact, those disgruntled customers are more likely to speak about you than your happy customers. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it usually works. The good news is, it’s not hard to give great customer service. You simply need to make it a priority.
Below are 10 tips that you can implement today and offer stellar customer service to your customers/clients.
Your customers should have a way to get in contact with you or someone in your company, if they have an issue or or concen. Providing multiple ways for your customers to contact you provides reassurance to them that you care. Some of those ways are email, phone, chat or social media.
Respond in a timely manner
Make sure to return all inquiries within 24 hours. If you can’t do that, determine what timeframe you’ll set and let your customers know upfront. Typically do not exceed 48 hours. You can set up autoresponders letting them know what the time frame is so they will know what to expect. If you need assistance with setting up this type of communication, feel free to contact us.
Listen to your customers
Often when a customer calls or writes to complain, they only want to be heard. In fact, sometimes, just listening can solve the issue. Take the time to concentrate on what your customer feedback before you begin responding or defending your product or service. They may just have a point. So remove the ego and become customer focused, read our article on how managing ego as an entrepreneur can improve your business!
Treat your customers with respect
Even if the customer on the opposite end of the phone is acting irrationally, or being rude, don’t lower yourself to their level by reciprocating the energy. Treat everyone with respect and you’ll be respected equally(not always but most times you will). Plus, you never know when someone’s just having a nasty day, and that they happen to be taking it out on you(we’ve all done it).
Don’t argue with your customers
In most cases, the customer is always right! Because if you ultimately end up winning, you’ve quite likely alienated the customer and you have lost their business. We all know the customer isn’t always right, but instead of focusing on what went wrong and defending yourself, focus on how you can solve the problem or fix the situation.
Honor your commitments
If you say you’ll answer emails, then answer them. If you offer a guarantee, then honor it. Nothing kills a customer relationship faster than false promises. I got a pleasant email last week from a client that made me realize just how important this statement is. Here’s what he wrote:
“Many thanks for your prompt and comprehensive reply. Most business owners sell the image that they will personally reply, but instead I get their assistant, so I want to praise you for keeping your word because most business owners seldom do so …”
Yes, it took me a while to reply to his email. But I promise email support to all or any clients who purchase services from us and thus it’s important to honor that commitment.
Do what you say
If you say you are going to call someone on Tuesday, call them on Tuesday. It’s as simple as that. If you would like your customers to trust and believe you, you’ve got to follow through and do what you say.
Focus on making customer relationships, not sales
The long-term success of your business rests on your ability to form long-term customer relationships. If you sacrifice relationships to form short-term sales, your business is going to be short-lived.
Don’t lie about the results your business will provide. Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver for a quick sale. I see this everywhere online these days; everything is a quick fix or a short term resolution. It suckers people into buying the service, then the service or provider doesn’t deliver. Do you think that person is going to make another purchase from your company? Not likely. Keep it real about what products and services your business can provide.
Admit when you make a mistake
No one’s perfect. We all make mistakes; it’s part of learning. So, once you do make an error, don’t attempt to cover it up or deny it. Just admit it and if necessary, do something to fix it. Your customers will appreciate it and they’ll be more likely to remain customers.
So how does your customer service measure up? Are you implementing these 10 steps into your customer service solution? If not, I challenge you to step your service up a notch.
Approach it like Ken Blanchard and rather than just being satisfied with happy customers, create “Raving Fans” (a great little book if you haven’t read it). Commit to putting these 10 tips into practice. Get to know your customers. Make them the focus of your business. It’s one of the keys to marketing success and best of all, it doesn’t cost very much!