Good customer service made simple

Good customer service is all about bringing customers back and sending them away happy, happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business to others, who may then try the product or service you offer for themselves and become consequently ‘repeat customers’.

The essence of good customer service is forming a relationship with customers - a relationship that an individual customer feels that he would like to pursue. Here are some points about forming such a relationship.

Answer your phone: Get call forwarding, or an answering service. Hire staff if you need. But, make sure that someone is picking up the phone when there is a business call.

Don’t make promises unless you will keep them: Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship which includes good customer service. If you say, “Your new bedroom furniture will be delivered on Tuesday,” make sure that it is delivered on Tuesday. Otherwise, don’t say it. Think before you make any promise 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 the person hasn’t been paying attention and needs to have it explained again? From a customer’s point of view, I doubt it. Let your customer talk and show him that you are listening by making the appropriate responses such as 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.

Be helpful - even if there’s no immediate profit in it: 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?

Train your staff to be always helpful and courteous: Talk to them about good customer service and what it is (and isn’t) regularly. Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so that 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 him find something, don’t just say, “It’s over there.” Lead the customer to the item. He may not say so to you, but people do notice ‘extra effort’ and they tell other people about it.

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.

If you apply these simple rules consistently, your business will become known for its good customer service. The irony of good customer service is that, over time, it will bring in more new customers than promotions and price slashing ever did!

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