One of my first questions to a business owner is, “Why would someone buy from you and not your competitor?” The number one answer is, “We have great customer service.” I hope that is true, and that there are other differentiating factors as well.
So, what is Great Customer Service?
There are two perspectives on customer service, yours, and the customer’s. In a business that truly does have great customer service, they are aligned with each other. Many people narrowly define customer service as what happens when there is a problem. True customer service encompasses the entire customer experience.
Let’s do a few examples.
At Lily’s Boutique, the space is warm and welcoming, with enough merchandise to be interesting, yet customers are able to easily navigate the store and locate items. Lily or a staff member pleasantly greets each customer and offer to help locate items for them, and also tells them about specials. The cost so far, $0.00. If a particular item is not available, the salesperson offers to locate it and call when it arrives. At checkout purchases are neatly wrapped and bagged, then handed to the customer with a thank you, after they have been invited to join a mailing list/rewards program. Cost to the business? Still $0.00. Reward to the business? No need to fix problems after the sale and a loyal, repeat customer.
For an online experience, the same principles apply. The customer should be able to easily navigate the website and locate items. There should be a way for them to get questions answered, whether it is a chat function or the ability to contact you via phone or email. All inquiries should be answered as promptly as possible. No, you do not need to have the chat monitored 24/7. Let the customer know what hours someone is available, and when they can expect a response. The checkout process should be simple and secure. Similar to an in-person transaction, this is the time to ask about joining a mailing list/rewards program. Once the transaction is complete, say thank you. Repeat the thanks in your confirmation email.
Treating your customers well allows you to bank trust and goodwill. There are times when there is a problem or a mistake. If you have plenty of goodwill built up, addressing the issue is a withdrawal from the bank of goodwill. A prompt, honest response goes a very long way to keep the customer happy. Too often we are tempted to hide behind a chat or email. It is essential that you treat each customer like they were standing in front of you.
No, the customer is not always right. However, doing what you can to explain and mitigate the situation is always needed. Have documented policies on how to handle common complaints and concerns, and when to elevate them to a manager. Customer-facing team members should be well versed in policies and procedures, and well trained to deal with customers.
Listen, Listen, Listen
Businesses who listen to their customers have great customer service. Often, your customers have great ides. They are not hindered by a resistance to change. Small changes can have a large impact on the customer experience. Even when you do not agree with the customer, show them respect by listening to what they have to say.
Listen to your team members. They too have great input. Pay attention to recurring problems and fix them. Consider it an investment that will result in future customers.
Great Customer Service is about more than no-hassle returns. It starts from the moment someone enters your place of business, physical or on-line and continues until the customer is satisfied. The payoff is loyal, repeat customers who will promote your business for you. For very little cost, your business can see huge returns.
Not sure where to start? Let’s schedule a time to talk: https://calendly.com/sandymerritt/30min
Author: Sandy Merritt, Business Coach in Louisville, KY