Good customer service turns one-time customers into loyal fans and increases the likelihood they’ll brag about you to their friends. This word-of-mouth advertising ranks among the most effective, yet elusive forms of promotion. Beyond satisfied customers contributing to your overall success, superb customer service prevents unhappy customers from spreading word of their displeasure.
Turn your patrons into your company’s biggest fans with these seven easy tips:
Interact. As your company grows, your employees will probably take on increasing amounts of daily customer interaction. The larger your company becomes, the more impact an email or even a smile from you will have. Start developing good habits now by connecting with customers. Think of the last time you dined in a restaurant and the manager came over and asked how you were doing. Didn’t that make you feel like he really cared? Create that same experience for your clients by personalizing your service, no matter how large you grow.
Hire the right team. Your employees are one of the largest contributors to your success. Sour faces needn’t apply. When interviewing people, ask behavioral questions designed to identify how they approach difficult situations. For example, ask job candidates to describe how they surmounted an obstacle in their own lives. People often prepare answers to expected job-related questions. Shifting the focus helps you elicit more honest answers.
Train your staff. Nothing fractures your company’s authority faster than an uninformed employee. Train your employees when first hired and again every few months to make sure they can thoroughly answer customers’ questions. Employees are a natural extension of you, and customers who trust the information from them will in turn trust and respect your company.
Spoil your staff. Happy employees will cheerfully help customers, so treat your staff well. Create incentives for employees to go beyond the call of duty. Offer perks such as ice cream or free lunch to those who customers point out as exceptionally helpful. Ask employees for their feedback, just as you would ask customers, to ensure they enjoy arriving at work every day.
Give your team authority to right wrongs. You’ve hired the right people and trained them. The next step is to give your staff the authority to please customers. Many times that means allowing your staff to offer disappointed patrons free items, up to a certain dollar amount. Handling small problems quickly prevents them from growing into big problems. Dissatisfied customers often feel better once their complaint has been addressed.
Follow up. Whether you sell computers or offer consulting services, connect with customers via phone or email shortly after the purchase and request feedback. Ask them how you did, what you can do better, and if they found value in your product or service. Following up with customers allows you to identify areas of strength and weakness. It allows you to respond to potential issues immediately and manage any dissatisfaction. It also makes your customers feel as if you care, which is key to providing personalized service.
Respond quickly. Nothing annoys customers more than waiting days for a response to a question or concern. During that time, they’re probably shopping around to your competitors or bashing you online. Quickly responding to emails and phone calls shows your customers you value their business and that your company is well run.