The key to good customer service is building relationships and providing EXCELLENCE in customer service so they keep coming back. This means you have to go above and beyond what you are currently doing.
“Customer service isn’t a department, it is everyone’s job”
To build good customer relationships you need to:
- identify and understand what their needs are
- concentrate on improving your products according to your customers needs
- keep your customers informed about upcoming industry news and product launches
- make the experience all about them
Competition for your business is higher than ever before, particularly with the internet making everything so accessible, the world is shrinking and we need to do more to stand out. On the other hand, your business is potentially exposed to more customers and it’s just a matter of how you can capture more of the market.
Providing memorable customer service sets you apart from your competition
It goes without saying, you can’t thrive in business without customers, so you need to understand what your existing customer service behaviours are-what’s working well, what’s not and come up with a simple strategy to capitalise on your existing customer base and build on that. Identify what your business can do to stand out above the rest. If you can improve on your products and services to satisfy your existing customers, they will endorse you and you will gain more customers through referral. That’s a win win!
This will require a continuous improvement strategy and process to identify and understand your customers needs, then implement, monitor and manage those processes regularly (the life of your business), so that your customers won’t want or need to look anywhere else.
You will also need to provide your staff with the skills and values required to effectively solve your customers issues and positively represent your company.
Basic fundamentals of good customer service
Thank you is something that you don’t hear too often these days but the simple act of saying thank you will go a long way to leaving your customers feeling good about themselves and their purchase. They will feel special, valued and it will leave your customer with a lasting impression. A happy customer will return often and are likely to spend more.
Thank you should happen either immediately face to face, with a follow up phone call, personalised email or text message.
A smile is polite and contagious. It is the universal symbol for happiness and friendliness.
Meet the customer with a sincere smile and friendly greeting and they are more likely to buy from people who are happy, positive and enthusiastic. If the customer was undecided they would more likely feel swayed to buy.
A smile costs nothing and is heard through the tone of your voice, the words that you speak and tone of your text or email.
Use people’s first names, it makes them feel special and seen as an individual, not a number. It develops a relationship and creates a personal experience for the customer.
With return customers, greet them with a “welcome back Fred”. Take note of their first name from their credit or debit card when they pay, or you can simply ask for their first name when you thank them for their purchase.
Make it all about them. Listen, I mean really listen. Your body language should be open and relaxed, yet attentive, facing them square on-mirror their body language. It shows your interested and engaged. Understand what they are looking for, ask questions and repeat for clarification to show your understanding. It shows your interested and engaged. Makes them feel valued and heard.
Empathy is a fundamental customer service skill, that I don’t see very often in this day and age. It seems to be a lost art, instead of being empathetic, people get offended when customers complain or provide feedback and staff respond by arguing.
Understand that when you show empathy through listening and understanding the customers point of view and showing genuine concern, customers will feel respected and heard and understood. If you respond with empathy, you will have a much greater chance of winning their respect and build a stronger relationship.
Exceptional customer service
Conduct surveys to understand your customers needs, wants, expectations and level of service your customers are looking for. Tailor your services to your customer demands. This may include improved training of staff or having a ‘Mission Statement” that reflects your customers expectations.
This means responding to your customers needs quicker than they expect, going above and beyond their expectations. Exceptional customer service combines manners, trust, courtesy, respect and genuine interest. You will find your customers will become loyal consumers, spreading the love through word of mouth.
Caring for your customers will get you more customer loyalty, more sales, referrals and strengthen your business.
Give something away for free. Remember the days when you would go to the butchers and he’d give you or your kids a free cheerio. Well, I’m not saying you have to give your customers a cheerio, it could be something as simple as giving them a 20% off gift card to use when they come in for their next purchase. Or you might have a bowl of beautifully wrapped mint chocolates on the counter to add to their purchase. Offer a free bottle of water, scratch lottery ticket or flower with every purchase.
Free advice, tips, how to cards are great too.
Give a handwritten ‘thank you’ card or note to every customer that buys from you. Express your sincere appreciation for the time and money they spend with you. Do everything you can to serve well. Your customers will appreciate it and deserve it and your company will benefit.
Take care and make your wrapping special. It doesn’t have to be expensive, actually, the simpler the better. It should look like you have made a special effort will be noticed and appreciated. Presentation is all about perception.
You can use plain brown paper or newspaper and wrap with a contrasting ribbon or raffia. If your artistic you could even draw a smiley face or just add your handwritten thank you in bold.
Frequently asked questions is a fantastic opportunity to improve the effectiveness of your online marketing. Providing a list of frequently asked questions on your website will assist your customers with navigating your website.
The right questions and answers can be instrumental in advancing potential sales. Not only will FAQs be helpful to your visitors, they could also save you and your staff time, and likely reduce the number of inquiries you get asked about routine matters.
It allows them to quickly get an overview of your company’s product or service as well as answers to their more specific question.
More ‘excellence’ customer service tips
- Handwritten notes
- online, video chats
- free advice, tips and hints
- thank you packages
- exclusive custom products
- loyalty – referral programs
- birthday vouchers and or phone calls
- social media promotion/recognition
- Christmas cards
- quick communication
- surprise gifts
- personalised worksheets
- gratitude tweets or text messages
- free course access or PDF welcome package
- personal response for feedback
- use customers first name
- conduct surveys
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page
- quality wrapped product with handwritten thank you card
- find out customers’ expectations
- follow up on both positive and negative feedback
- ensure that you consider customer service in all aspects of your business
- continuously look for ways to improve the level of customer service you deliver