I have become a really big tipper – most of the time. It’s pretty simple. I get excited about good Customer Service. I understand that Chat Bots are efficient and it is a challenge to find good customer service people. However, as a customer, there is nothing better than an actual, engaged human being interacting with me. Is that a lot to ask?
Unfortunately, we have become accustomed to so-so or poor customer service.
Giving Great Customer Service
There are so many opportunities here I could write a chapter. For the sake of my audience, I won’t address all of them. To get started on building great service, take a look at the customer journey from the customer’s point of view.
Start with your online presence. Does your website have clear information: services and products, hours, locations, how to contact you, testimonials, Frequently Asked Questions?
When you get a lead, what happens next? If you get a call or email from the lead, does someone call or email the lead? Who and what do they say? A quick response is crucial to landing that customer. Does that mean responding at midnight? No, but please respond early the next day.
When a customer calls, how is the phone answered, and who handles the call? Is there a script? The caller can tell if you are smiling or not, so please remember to smile!
If someone walks into your place of business, how are they greeted? “Good Morning. Have you been in before? Yes, great – welcome back! Can I help you find something?” Or, “Good Morning. Have you been in before? Welcome! My name is Sandy. Let me show you around.”
Continue with the journey. How do you deliver your products or service? Can appointments be scheduled online? Do you have a way to confirm appointments? Are there options for shipping and shipping costs?
Is it easy for the customer to pay you? I understand that not everyone is set up to accept online payments, however, it has become more affordable and is a timely way to get paid. Preprinted invoice forms should include all the information that the customer needs to pay the invoice. This includes the full address, a phone number for questions, and a way for me to send my credit card information. Anything handwritten, other than “Thank you for your business!” is very suspicious.
You have two free sources of market research. The first is your customers. When asked, most people are happy to share what they liked or disliked, and what offerings they would like to see in the future.
Your front-line employees who interact directly with the customers are another great source of information. They see the customer reactions and hear what the customers are saying, good and bad. They also have good suggestions for improvements, so listen to them.
Say Thank You!
“Thank you” are two of the most underutilized words in the business world. Yes, you probably thank the customer at the end of a transaction. A random email, phone call or written note goes a long way in letting a customer know that you truly do appreciate them.
When you do give great service, ask for a review, then make it easy for the customer by sending them a text or email with the link to do the review. They are such a great customer, ask for referrals – who else do they know who would enjoy your product or service.
It’s OK to be innovative and creative. Think of something that you can do that will make your customers feel special. A loyalty program is an effective way to reward customers and it does not have to cost a lot. Free samples are an unexpected treat, and may lead to more sales. Member-only pricing can also be an incentive, while showing appreciation for regular customers. Exclusive shopping events or pricing is another option.
Great customer service is a series of small tasks done really well. You may not get everything right 100% of the time. However, start building each piece now, show your customers that you love them, and you will see the rewards!
Author, Sandy Merritt, Business Coach in Louisville, KY