There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else. Sam Walton understood customers didn’t he? How often, as a customer, do you experience WOW customer service … the type that you normally can’t imagine? Average or less customer service seems like the norm in many industries. In some it’s so common that when we provide great service, we yield customers who feel like they’ve won the lottery, if only for a moment. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Using these customer service tips is not rocket science.
Many organizations have big challenges that can be obstacles to providing great customer service. But so do many other companies that find ways to provide the wow attention getter. They choose to overcome their challenges and they take care of their customers very well.
And they make a point to do it consistently.
We often get a questions and comments on improving customer service from clients and people commenting on our blog. Many relate to customer service actions that are reminders of what we already know (but we occasionally forget). These are bid enablers of customer service. They usually won’t create WOW service on their own, but their absence is noted by customers and makes excellent customer service just good or less.
As we work with companies to help them in improving customer service, some things stand out. These are things a lot of small businesses don’t do consistently. Yet if they did they’d find the quality of their customer service would improve and their customer loyalty would increase.
Here are ten things any company can do for improving customer service they’re providing. I know many companies already do some or all of these things. And for those that do, it shows. They are the organizations people rave about. They are the service superstars.
We all know not every customer request is easy or possible to fulfill. But rather than tell them “no”, try to find other ways to help them get what they want.
Always focus on finding a solution. And, when you do this, customers will come back more often because they know you you’ll do everything you can to help them.
Customer service tips … empower employees
Let employees make decisions in crucial customer moments.
No one turns an unhappy customer into a fan faster or better than a team member empowered to instantly fix the situation. Provide training and guidelines — then trust them to make the right decisions. This is the single most important thing a company can do to create great customer service over the long haul, in our humble opinion.
Seek first to understand for best customer service tips
When a customer is telling you his issue, give them your complete attention. Customers consistently tell us they hate dealing with employees who don’t listen or pay attention.
When you begin talking with a customer, stop whatever else you are doing and focus on them. Don’t multi-task. Don’t half-listen. Write down what they are telling you and get specifics from them. Make appropriate eye contact, listen, nod and show them you are paying attention. Then confirm that you understand.
Always greet customers promptly and with a smile
You may not be the owner, but you should care like you’re the owner. Not all owners or executives make great leaders, but the ones that are should be emulated. Watch how they take pride in how they deal with customers and employees. Then copy them. Act and care like you are the owner.
When talking with a new customer, give them your full name and get theirs right away.This makes your conversation more personal and enables you to better connect with your customer.
It also tells your customer you’re willing to be accountable for helping them because if you don’t, they know who you are!
Don’t forget to say, “Thank you!” It would be remiss of me not to remind you to show appreciation.
Remember 1 thing
Remember 1 thing about each customer you meet. People do business with people. Make your actions personal. Customers should want to do business with you because of you and your employees. Make your customers “feel at home.” You may have a great location, cool displays, great signage, etc. That’s all great, but if your people can’t make your customers feel welcome and appreciated, all of the other doesn’t matter.
Focus on details
Remember this, little details can often create big experiences. Pay attention to details. Figure out the details that your customers enjoy and make them a routine part of doing business with you.
Think creatively when solving customer issues. See your customer as someone who needs your help. But to deliver WOW service, remember your customers are there because they want and need YOUR help. And remember how good it feels to help someone in need! Go the extra mile.
Involve Your Customers
No one knows what your customers want better than your customers. If you ask them with genuine interest, they will tell you. So ask them and heed their advice.
Customer centric language
Use language that demonstrates you think in terms of customer centric. Put customer needs ahead of your own. Design your processes and policies with your customer in mind. An example often overlooked … update phone messages to be customer centric.
Customer service tips and tricks … secret competitive analysis
Personally mystery shop your own company and your competitors. Find out how easy everyone is to do business with through your own experience. Sure, you can hire a company to do surveys and mystery shopping, but learning through your own experience can be an eye opening experience.
Don’t forget to analyze when things go right. When a company receives a complaint people usually have discussions to find out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. Next time you receive a letter of praise, meet to find out what went right and how it can be repeated. Don’t, as the cliché goes, just learn from mistakes.
Focus on the can do’s
Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. Always follow up and follow through.
One of the biggest complaints people have is they never hear back from sales or service employees. Someone promises to do something and it never happens.
An easy way to thrill your customers is to simply do what you say you will. Whatever you promise, do it promptly, thoroughly and accurately. Then do a little more. It thrills them every time!
Set aside time
Be sure and set aside time to look at the big picture.Things are never constant or ever as they seem. Your big picture analysis is essential in helping you adapt to change.
To illustrate how simple things in customer service can happen without much notice, we like to use the following example.
We occasionally visited Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch until a disappointment with a KFC takeout order of soggy, unappetizing chicken and fries. We called the restaurant chain’s toll-free number to complain, but was told that complaints should be directed to the specific location’s manager. One call is worth the effort for us, but not two … especially if the company shows a lack of interest in the first call. We find it easier, given these two incidents, to find a new place for lunch.
KFC lost a customer without even knowing it had happened. You can bet your customers make “silent” decisions like this on a regular basis …so make it easy for them to complain. Don’t rely on feedback forms. Ask customers for direct, face-to-face opinions. Do it regularly and have them know whom they can complain to, if anything goes wrong. The image above is real and a great way to let customers know you are paying attention and care.
What your customer perceives about your company is what determines whether they will stay with you. And their perception is built one contact at a time. Even one bad experience can taint their perception of you. So make sure every contact they have is a great one. Create customer evangelists by caring about your customers and showing it with everything you do.
So what’s the conclusion? The conclusion is there is no conclusion. There is only the next step. And that next step is completely up to you.
It’s up to you to keep improving your customer attention and focus. Lessons are all around you. In many situations, your competitor may be providing the ideas and or inspiration. But the key is in knowing that it is within you already.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new lessons.
When things go wrong, what’s most important is your next step.
Try. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Are you devoting enough energy to improving your continuous learning for yourself and your team?
Do you have a lesson about making your customer focus better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
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