Having been in business a number of years, I’m amazed at the number of people who don’t have the slightest idea of what customer service is. Customer service is not a way of doing things – it’s an attitude.
I always love it when company’s send their people to seminars to learn about customer service. All the seminars will discuss the customer’s needs and expectations and the orator will package these ideas as new and cutting edge when in fact these very ideas were in practice over 30 years ago!
Somewhere along the line, we forgot the customer in favor of the bottom line. Some of this may also be attributed to different mind sets over time and how people tend to treat one another.
Let me wax poetic here a moment. When was the last time you could go to a gas station and have an attendant in a white shirt and tie wait on you, check your oil, clean your windows, and fill your tires just as a way of saying thanks for your patronage?
More than likely the station you went to had an attendant who’s appearance was disheveled, wearing more jewelry than you own, and here you are passing money through a bullet-proof panel!
It is said that Doctor’s make the worst patients, well my friend I’m here to tell you that Customer Service people make the worst consumers! With all the customer service people I’ve known over the years from both sides of the fence there’s a real lack of wanting to “champion” the cause of the customer. Few people posses that trait and those that do don’t last long as they’re viewed as oddities and pushed out in favor of the group consensus.
On the other hand, I have also met customers who no matter what approach you used they were bound and determined to make your life miserable. These people make the “fight” personal and will never be satisfied regardless of what you do.
Delivering great customer service is easy! We just need to get back to the basics that were laid down decades before – what we’ll call the tried and true methods.
How do you deliver great customer service?
1.) Smile on the phone. This simple act will set the tone for the entire conversation.
2.) How may I help you? You’re asking their permission to assist them.
3.) Use a proper salutation when talking to a customer unless permission is given otherwise, ie: Mrs., Mr., Ms., Sir, etc.
4.) Listen to their concerns. No one likes to be ignored. Everyone wants to know that not only are they being heard but that they’re being understood as well.
5.) Repeat back to the customer what it is you heard them say.
6.) Be genuine. A lack of sincerity comes across easier than you think.
7.) Care for your customer. If you think your customer needs you, you won’t be in business long. This means what it says – too many times I’ve been in meetings where this was paid lip service and its importance downplayed.
8.) Put yourself in your customers shoes – What are their concerns? Are they legitimate concerns? Do you have a plan to assist them?
9.) Customers are looking to you to help them put to rest any fears, doubts, or apprehension they may have regarding a recommended repair, service, etc., do you posses the knowledge or skill to assist them? Often time people will try to guess at an answer rather than appear less knowledgeable when in all actuality the customer would prefer honesty.
10.) Be honest and sincere in your deliberations with a customer. This one simple act will be welcomed like a breath of fresh air. You have got to know that by the time a customer has reached you they are upset and feel that they’ve been getting the runaround or have been lied to.
11.) Never promise the customer anything you can’t deliver. That goes equally for a follow up phone call. If you tell your customer you will call – do it! Even if
it’s to tell them you have nothing to report. I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of times a customer was surprised to get a return phone call.
12.) Never forget what it’s like to be a customer! We are all customers in one way or another and deserve the same respect we demand from others.
By doing these things you will inspire a customer base that’s loyal and will return to you again and again. These customers will also provide the best free advertising imaginable – word of mouth!
By the same token one bad customer recommendation can cost you a large number of potential sales by the time they’re done spreading around how they were treated. Additionally, today’s consumer has the advantage of the internet to not only entertain but to educate them as well.
This is not rocket science just basic common sense and treating people the way you would like to be treated. Somewhere along the line, we lost this concept, and along with that, revenue, repeat business, our initial customer base and free advertising.
If your customer genuinely feels wanted and appreciated, you have succeeded in delivering exceptional customer service and you will have set in motion a winning formula that will guarantee your success!