Guide To An Excellent Customer Service For Small Businesses
Traditionally, the first full week in October is tagged “The Customer Service Week”. This is the week when organizations around the world make an effort to recognize the importance of excellent customer service, and those that deliver it.
Now, some folks feel this celebration should not be a time-specific celebration of excellence, as they believe it is something we should celebrate and strive to achieve at all times.
However, this year I would like to take a moment to celebrate and thank you our customers, and not forgetting the VPCART team for doing an awesome with you guys.
In the spirit of gratitude, I would like to share with you possible customer service guides for small businesses.
Good customer service can be the difference between being able to compete and survive and failing for small businesses. Customer experience has to be a part of your company’s DNA. This is what sets companies apart in crowded marketplaces because they create passionate and vocal customers. This competitive advantage is hard for another business to break down because they have to battle that existing business-to-customer relationship first.
The question here is simple:
- Are you taking time to make sure the customer is at the heart of your brand experience?
- Are you in any way making your customers feel special?
If you're a good salesperson, you can sell anything to anyone once. But it will be your approach to customer service, that determines whether or not you’ll ever be able to sell that person anything else. To get started, here is a guide to teach you what good customer service is and give you tools to assess and improve customer service in your small business.
Answer Your Phone
The first rule of good customer service is that your business phone needs to be answered. Get call forwarding. Or an answering service. Hire staff if you need to. But make sure that someone is picking up the phone when someone calls your business. And then read How to Answer the Phone Properly to make sure that customers calling your business are thrilled with the way the phone is answered at your business rather than put off.
Don't Make Promises Unless You Will Keep Them
This may well be the most important of all of these eight rules for good customer service. Not plan to keep the promises you make. Will keep them. Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship, and good customer service is no exception. If you say to a customer, “Your new bedroom furniture will be delivered on Tuesday”, make sure it is delivered on Tuesday. Otherwise, don't say it. The same rule applies to client appointments, deadlines, etc.. Think before you give any promise and make them carefully - because nothing annoys customers more than a broken promise.
Listen to Your Customers
Is there anything more exasperating than telling someone what you want or what your problem is and then discovering that that person hasn't been paying attention and needs to have it explained again? Not from a customer's point of view. Can the sales pitches and the product babble. If you're truly interested in providing the best customer service, let your customer talk and show him that you are listening by making the appropriate responses, such as summarizing what the customer has said and suggesting how to solve the problem.
Deal With Complaints
No one likes hearing complaints, and many of us have developed a reflex shrug, saying, "You can't please all the people all the time". Maybe not, but if you give the complaint your attention, you may be able to please this one person this one time - and position your business to reap the benefits of good customer service. Properly dealt with, complaints can become opportunities. They give you the chance to discover issues and correct them, thereby improving your customer service. Market research has found that customers who have complained about a product or service and had that complaint successfully dealt with are 70 percent likely to order from the vendor again.
Be Helpful—Regardless of Profit
The other day I popped into a local watch shop because I had lost the small piece that clips the pieces of my watch band together. When I explained the problem, the proprietor said that he thought he might have one lying around. He found it, attached it to my watch band – and charged me nothing! Where do you think I'll go when I need a new watch band or even a new watch? And how many people do you think I've told this story to?
The shopkeeper made nothing during our exchange in his store. But I'll certainly be taking my business to him in the future and who knows how many other customers will be visiting him because I've told them how well he treated me? To provide good customer service, keep your eye on the customer, not on the profit.
Train Your Staff
If you have staff, train them to be always helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable. Do it yourself or hire someone to train them. Talk to your staff about good customer service and what it is (and isn't) regularly. (Good Customer Service: How to Help a Customer explains the basics of ensuring positive staff-customer interactions.) Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so he never has to say, "I don't know, but so-and-so will be back at..."
Take the Extra Step
For instance, if someone walks into your store and asks you to help them find something, don't just say, "It's in Aisle 3". Add the extra step; say, "Let me show you" and lead the customer to the item. Better yet, wait and see if he has questions about it or further needs. Whatever the extra step maybe, if you want to provide good customer service, take it. They may not say so to you, but people notice when people make an extra effort and will tell other people. And that good word of mouth will win you more customers.
Throw In Something Extra
Whether it's a coupon for a future discount, additional information on how to use the product, or a genuine smile, people love to get more than they thought they were getting. And don’t think that a gesture has to be large to be effective. A local art framer attaches a package of picture hangers to every picture he frames. A small thing, but so appreciated. Think about your product or service and find something extra that you can offer to customers.
Reward Your Customers' Loyalty
When you apply these eight simple rules consistently, your business will become known for its good customer service. And the best part? Over time good customer service will bring in more new customers than promotions and price slashing ever did!