We have all heard the time honored adage that “The customer is always right!” Keeping the customer happy and coming back for business should be every company’s first priority – whether they are actually “right” or not. Maintaining a satisfied customer base is easier, more cost effective and takes less time than finding new customers. How, then, can businesses deliver excellent customer service, create personal relationships with customers and make customers feels appreciated?
Customer service is emerging as a critical differentiator for businesses. Small changes and personal interactions can mean a world of difference for clients to go from being a “customer” to being a “loya”l customer. Let’s look at some key components to meeting those customer satisfaction goals.
- Customer Service Plan – As a company, brainstorm and decide on your service goals. These goals should reflect interactions with both internal and external customers. What is the ultimate goal? Do you want to be known as efficient, helpful, honest, cost effective, or all of the above? Possibly list every time an interaction may happen. (In the lobby, on a sales call, via email, social media, or in person) What ways can customer service come into play in those circumstances?
- Explore the needs of the customers – Each customer has unique needs so try to explore what needs those are for your typical client base. Do you usually deal with small businesses so they are cost conscious and need to be made aware of special deals or sales? Do you service large companies that need large volumes of items? Look at the specific needs of your clients so you can solve their particular problems quickly and kindly.
- Go back to basics – A smile, a personal greeting or even a kind word can go a long way with customers. Don’t just hear what they say but really listen to what their needs are so that you can anticipate those needs as your relationship with them grows. It goes without saying that you should always be courteous and polite with the customer even if you don’t agree with their assessment.
- Follow up and Follow Through – Do what you promise and when questions and problems have not been resolved follow up to try to rectify the problem. In our digital age it is far too easy for a customer to post a bad review due to customer service issues. When you follow up on how the service went you will be confirming that the customer had a positive interaction and let them know that they matter to you and your business.
- Establish “customer friendly policies” -There really is nothing worse than having someone tell you that they don’t have the ability to help. Give employees the power and knowledge to fix problems that arise. Make rules bendable in case special circumstances come up with loyal customers. Eliminate policies that make dealing with customers rigid or routine in nature. Make it as personal as possible.