Great product. Fantastic price. Amazing advertising campaign. All that means nothing if your business doesn’t have smiling customers walking out the door. Those customers are the most valuable asset you have.
How to define good customer service?
There are many definitions out there, but the ACA Group says that customer service is the ability of an organisation to constantly and consistently give the customer what they want and need, and to exceed the customer’s expectations. Obviously then, good customer service starts with knowing what your customers want and need.
Customer service is not just for the sales team, or for those serving at the counter. If any part of your business is conducted online, those unseen customers also must be satisfied. The customer service mindset has to become second-nature to every member of your staff.
If any part of the service, such as delivery, is contracted out to another company, make sure they also have high standards of customer service. If they don’t, find someone else. It’s that important.
6 tips for good customer service
1. Don’t make customers wait
Time is money, and the less of their time you take, the more of their money they’ll spend. This applies not just to over-the-counter sales, but even more so to resolving problems. We all know how aggravating it can be to have to call back or be transferred and have to explain the problem over and over again.
Stuart Leung, of Salesforce, says, “Customer service representatives who have neither the authority nor the ability to resolve problems on their own, and are thus forced to take those problems to higher levels, run the risk of alienating customers.”
2. Answer your phone
It’s difficult to think of any reason why a business phone would not be answered. And remember that no one likes to talk to a machine. Hire staff if necessary, and make sure their phone technique is not a liability.
3. Communicate clearly
Tell your customers what good things they can expect from your business. And tell your employees exactly how to fulfil that expectation. Any unexpected hiccups, such as an interruption of supply, should be fully explained as early as possible. Offer alternatives.
4. Keep your promises
Do this even if it means a loss to the company. You will easily recoup it with repeat sales. Customers will remember what you promised and expect you to deliver on all the details. Not doing so will put them off, and they won’t be back.
5. Train your staff
Susan Ward, at The Balance, explains that employees who are dealing with customers need to do more than just be friendly if they are to deliver good customer service. Get over the idea that enthusiasm and a smile are enough (although they are a great start).
Effective customer service training must be reinforced and taught on a recurring basis. The whole team needs to be helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable. It may be a worthwhile investment to hire someone to train them.
6. Give your staff some authority
Every member needs to know enough about the products and the company’s policies so that, at least with small decisions, they never have to defer to an absent or busy manager.
While you’ll never be able to please everyone, you can increase the proportion of happy customers. After all, that’s the group that will build your reputation in the community. Given enough time, good customer service will bring in more new customers than any glitzy promotions.