How to Establish Great Customer Service
For many clients, a business that incorporates customer service excellence into its culture will stand out.
Late one afternoon, employees from a Salt Lake company were preparing booklets for a workshop when the copier had a meltdown. With the workshop looming the next day, a call was quickly placed to the service department at the copier provider.
After being told that a service technician wasn’t available until the next day, the copier provider made arrangements to bring computer files to their store, where they finished the booklets. The copier provider even stayed late and let them finish the booklets at their expense. In the process, they made a customer for life.
Stories of great customer service abound, as do the examples of customer service gone wanting. For many clients, a business that incorporates customer service excellence into its culture will stand out from among competitors selling similar products or services.
Customer service is essentially everything you do for the customer that is above and beyond the product or service you sell. Therefore, customer service excellence comes from all of the “extras” you provide that set you apart from your competitors. Furthermore, customer service extends beyond titles and positions within the company. Every employee within the business is a customer service representative.
To improve the customer service in your business, take a step back and try to see your operation from the eyes of your customers. Sometimes the daily mechanics of doing business can blur the vision of your operation and overshadow the very reason you’re in business. To prevent this, take a mystery shopper approach and occasionally look at each area of your business as a customer would experience them. Ask yourself how you would like to be treated, and then make changes accordingly. Remember to be proactive toward your customers as well as reactive to their concerns and questions.
The Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) says customer service should be as routine as paying your bills or ordering office supplies. And you don’t have to take elaborate measures to make a good impression. Often it’s the small things that customers remember: a friendly receptionist, a phone call returned on time, a card to mark a special occasion, a thank you note or a gift — the little things that make the customer feel like an individual instead of one pea in a pod.
Some additional tips from SCORE include:
1. Communicate with Your Customers. Keep your customers apprised of the status of their accounts. If someone’s order is held up, let them know as soon as possible. If you promise to have a job done by a certain date and there are glitches, tell your client right away and let them know when you expect the issue will be resolved.
2. Respond to Customers Quickly. When dealing with customers or clients over the telephone, try not to put them on hold for longer than a minute or two. If you expect to be tied up for longer than that, take a message and respond as soon as possible. When you plan to attend an important meeting or event with clients, call beforehand to remind them of how they should prepare. After the meeting, check back with the clients to find out their impressions. Your clients will appreciate your concern, and you will gain valuable feedback.
3. Let Customers Know You Appreciate their Business. Thank customers for their business. If customers regularly visit your place of business, make them feel welcome with coffee. Also, if customers are likely to bring children to your store or office, keep a basket of toys handy. Harried parents will appreciate the distraction, and are likely to stick around longer if their children are occupied.
4. Ask Customers for Feedback. Finally, when you sit back and ask yourself how your business is doing, be sure to ask your customers as well. Send them postage-paid response cards or make a questionnaire available in your place of business.
As you adjust your business routine and processes to be more customer-focused, you’ll want to follow up periodically to be sure things haven’t slipped back into the status quo.
Learn more tips for entrepreneurs at Zions Bank’s Online Business Resource Center.