Customer service is the great equalizer when it comes to business, as large and small companies all start on a level playing field when it comes to treating customers properly. When done right, excellent customer service can create a customer for life, or conversely, when done poorly, instantly lose a customer.
A high level of customer service sets you apart from your competitors, so following these tips on how to do it properly is crucial to commercial and corporate success.
1. Be available
Every well-run business must offer an outlet for their customers to contact them. Make your contact details clear and easy to find; a potentially disgruntled customer will be further frustrated if they have to search hard to express their concerns. Furthermore, if your contact details are difficult to access, your company will seem unprofessional and secretive.
2. Be prompt
Once a customer gets in touch, you should always respond as soon as possible. Set yourself a time limit on initial replies and stick to it. If you think you require more time to respond adequately, reply with an acknowledgment of their complaint or comment to let them know you've received it.
If you're clear and honest about your time frame, your customers will be accepting, so communicate as efficiently and promptly as possible. A quick response will make customers feel valued, and they'll be much more understanding as a result.
3. Listen and learn
When your customers talk, you must listen. Often the customer will be satisfied just knowing that you've heard their complaint and may not choose to pursue it any further.
Once the customer is satisfied, assess what went wrong for them to complain in the first place and make changes to your operation to ensure it doesn't happen again. Listening to and learning from every complaint or comment is the best way to improve your business.
4. Don't argue with the customer
It may be hard at times, but you must bite your tongue and refrain from being sucked into arguments with your clients.
They may be wrong, and you may be right, but bitter disagreements are unprofessional and only serve to alienate the customer and anyone that trusts their word over yours.
5. Look at the bigger picture
Dealing with obnoxious or dishonest customers is easier when you have the bigger picture in mind. Realize that providing a satisfactory experience to individual customers is vastly more important to the overall health and image of your business than saving a small amount of money on a single complaint.
Taking the high road, going the extra mile, and conceding small defeats is collateral damage in the pursuit of greater customer trust and loyalty.
The road to excellent customer service may at times seem to be both common sense and counter intuitive, but getting it right is a massive step on the way to great business operations.
Many good companies have failed because their customers have felt isolated or cheated by ineffective customer service, so train yourself and your staff properly to see immediate and long-term rewards.
Customers who feel respected and listened to will often give you their business for life.